The Government has given out £4.9 million to English public libraries in a competitive bidding process. This is to be welcomed but it’s worth pointing out that (a) this is likely to be much less than overall funding cuts to libraries this year and (b) is for stuff that library services can’t now afford normally but in any well-funded service would have been able to. Plus also it’s sometimes for additional stuff when the core service is being cut. As Libraries Hacked points out it’s a bit like “watching a house burning down and asking for money to install a bouncy castle in the garden.”. This point is demonstrated this week by Kent where the deputy council leader says that the council cannot afford to reopen Folkestone Library (where apparently 50% of the children are in poverty) because “KCC has to be realistic that in the current challenging financial climate, any spend has to be prioritised”.


I may have mentioned last week that several newspapers had reported a story that Devon was censoring stock for what can only be described “woke” reasons. I understand from contacts in Devon that this is nonsense and that “sadly some newspapers have recently inaccurately reported” their stock management policy. and that “There is not, and never has been, a decision to “remove unedited copies of certain Enid Blyton books from the shelves” and that they do not “operate a trigger warning system”. So, heaven knows what the Telegraph, Mail and Express think they were reporting on. If I didn’t know that they were all unbiased high-quality resources, I’d say it was almost as if they’re trying to stir up controversy or something. And of course this places libraries in a difficult position. They can either feed the trolls by pointing out the mis-reporting or keep quiet and leave it unchecked. And that way can lead to the ridiculous position we see in the USA where some politicians are so sure of how terrible public libraries are that they’re now advocating churches getting the funding instead.

Finally, I wish to mark the farewell of Diana Edmonds from GLL libraries. Being overall for no less than five library services and over 100 libraries, she was de facto the most senior public librarian in the country. Although, some of us may harbour some doubts about the placing of library services under leisure trusts, this did not prove detrimental to the ones she led (the “gymbraries” some of you may know were differently managed) and she used her position, where she could, to protect libraries and the role of professional librarians. I’m glad to say that she will staying in the public library sector.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts, culture and libraries 2023 – Local Government Association. Peer challenges. “The LGA’s important partnership with Arts Council England enables us to provide critical support to our member councils by developing the knowledge and skills of both councillors and officers to champion cultural activity in their local areas during a period of rebuilding, where leadership is needed most.”
  • Culture boost of £12.8m for West Midlands – BBC. “More than £1m from the LIF will be shared between libraries in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Walsall.”
  • DCMS announces further £4.9m for 27 library services – BookSeller.
  • Edmonds steps down as GLL national libraries director – Bookseller. “Diana Edmonds MBE is stepping down from her role as national libraries director at the social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), effective 5th April 2023 … Rebecca Gediking will step in as interim head of libraries to oversee the management and direction of more than 100 libraries in Bromley, Dudley, Lincolnshire, Wandsworth, Wales and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”
  • Enid Blyton’s racism doesn’t deserve to be in libraries. Read Terry Pratchett instead – Big Issue. “He’s not always perfect but, unlike Enid Blyton, he evolved. A mid-90s Discworld novel, Jingo, has its heart in the right place but is guilty of some fairly broad stereotypes about an Arab-like culture. You can see Pratchett pushing at the edges of the idea, but still falling into some of the traps he set his own characters. But Sir Terry’s mind never sat in one place. He soaked the world up as he moved through it, and as the world around him changed, so did he. At the heart of his work was always the idea that people were complicated. That they were never one thing”
  • Government announces almost £60m in cultural funding for regions outside London – Independent. “They will share a pot of £58.8 million as part of what the Government has billed as plans to “make sure everyone, no matter where they live, can access the UK’s world-renowned culture”.”
  • Green Libraries Manifesto– working together for people and planet – CILIP. “As libraries we occupy a place at the heart of the communities we serve. Through this manifesto, we want to come together towards a shared vision: to lead by example through our own environmental actions and use our power and reach to inform and inspire people to take positive action and build resilience in the diverse communities we serve. We recognise the diversity of our sector which is why this is an inclusive initiative for all libraries to help them make the changes they can, with the resources they have.”
  • Libraries Connected welcomes £4.9m Libraries Improvement Fund investment – Libraries Connected. “While competitive funds can make a huge difference for recipients, without a more secure long term financial settlement many councils will have no option but to consider making cuts to frontline public services, including libraries. We need Government to take decisive action now to avoid a crisis in our libraries over the coming years.”
  • Manchester libraries and Salford and Bury museums to get boost to funding – Manchester Evening News. “Under the government’s Libraries and Improvement Fund, Manchester Libraries will receive £198,872, and Oldham Council Libraries £151,520.”
  • Over 70 cultural venues, museums and libraries supported with £60 million boost – Gov.uk. “£135,000 to Leicester Libraries. £124,355 to Nottingham City Council Library Service. £50,586 to Inspire Libraries (Nottinghamshire), £337,500 to Essex Libraries. £219,000 to Suffolk Libraries, £255,554 to Kingston Libraries, £231,500 to Brent Libraries, £150,000 to Croydon Libraries, £125,000 to Barnet Libraries, 73,354 to Merton Libraries, £266,066 to North Tyneside Libraries, £225,000 to Darlington Libraries, £200,000 to Hartlepool library service, £50,000 to Stockton Library Service, £275,960 to St Helens Council Library Service, £198,872 to Manchester Libraries, £260,000 to Hertfordshire Library Service, £150,031 to Hampshire Libraries, £102,000 to Portsmouth Libraries, £75,000 to Surrey Libraries, £151,520 to Oldham Council Libraries, £300,000 to Stoke on Trent Libraries, £265,000 to Staffordshire Libraries, £241,950 to Shropshire Libraries, £202,349 to Walsall Libraries, £50,000 to Barnsley Libraries”
  • Uncensored Enid Blyton books with ‘outdated’ language are ‘being stashed in off-limits spaces by librarians’ – Mail. Rightwing sensationalist article aims at whipping up hatred of public library.

International news

  • USA – American Library Association reports record number of demands to censor library books and materials in 2022 – ALA. “1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. “. Nearly double 2021. Most in school libraries, 41% in public. Most challenges are now for multiple titles so number of books challenged actually far more.
    • Library director fired for trying to relocate book reading – Wear News. “The library director, Allan Morales, suggested the event be moved to a large church due to interest. Some, including Cameron, viewed this as retaliation for the book’s biblical principles. However, emails between Morales and the publisher – obtained by The Tennessean – show that the library director showed genuine concern about the library building’s ability to handle such an event.”
    • Public Knowledge Disappointed in Decision Restricting Ability of Libraries To Lend Books – Public Knowledge. “Under this “Controlled Digital Lending” (CDL) system, only one patron can access a copy of a book at a time – just like with lending physical books. The Internet Archive argued that any additional copies made during this process should be “fair use” under copyright law.” see also Book Publishers Won’t Stop Until Libraries Are Dead – TechDirt. “We’ll get to some of the details in a moment, but we’ve joked in the past that if libraries were new today there’s no way that book publishers would let them exist. In some ways they’re a legacy holdover from before publishers had that much power. The attack on controlled digital lending (CDL) more or less proves this.”

Local news by authority

  • Leicester – New digital suite created at iconic Leicester library – Leicester Council. “isitors to the Grade II listed St Barnabas Library, on French Road, can now make, edit and share their own video content, thanks to new cutting-edge facilities that have been created as part of an £85,000 project. Twelve new PCs have also been provided for library members to use, along with a new performance area, projector and viewing screen. New bi-fold doors will allow the area to be separated off or opened up to the wider library for large performances” … ” The project has been made possible thanks to a £65,000 funding award from Arts Council England’s Libraries Improvement Fund, with Leicester City Council providing an additional £20,000 of funding.”
  • Liverpool – New chapter for library of the future – Liverpool Express. “Previously Spellow Library, situated in the heart of Walton in North Liverpool, was open just three days a week and typical for a 1960s building had poor accessibility, no toilets and limited services. Now following a radical, community-led makeover – the renamed Spellow Hub will be the first facility of its kind in the north of England to offer a complete “education to employment” service for people of all abilities.”
  • North Ayrshire – Irvine mother and daughter star in promo for North Ayrshire libraries – Irvine Times. “Jen and her two-year-old daughter are at the forefront of the ‘Every Child A Library Member’ initiative which promotes the area’s library services and urges parents to sign their children up for a free membership. Showcasing the libraries’ extensive physical and audio book collections and their BookBug events for toddlers, the videos will be shared via social media and the NHS Health Visitor app over the next few months.”
  • North Northamptonshire – Kettering’s £4.5m Cornerstone art gallery and library project needs community ‘support and understanding’, says councillor explaining extension leaks – Northamptonshire Telegraph. ““North Northamptonshire [Council] are now working to rectify the issues, which include long-standing defects with the library roof that have further deteriorated, impacting the new extension. “The issues with the rapidly deteriorating library roof have impacted the new build part of the project as water is travelling through the roof space from one building to the other. A decision has now been taken to ensure the library building is watertight before we open Cornerstone”
  • Nottinghamshire – Service Disruptions – Inspire Culture. Gotham Library closed due to fire.
  • Shropshire – Six Shropshire Council libraries to share in £236,000 Arts Council England funding – Shropshire Council. “It will be used to purchase 1:1 interview pods with supporting technology, enabling private consultations with the public, both face to face or online, for example by offering Shropshire Local customers privacy when discussing their individual needs. It will also fund new mobile shelving to create flexible space to accommodate health and wellbeing sessions offered through social prescribing and creative health models.”
  • Staffordshire – Burton Library closed over ceiling safety concerns – BBC. “A new ceiling is due to be installed later this year as part of a planned renovation of the site. The council said it was working on providing an alternative service as soon as possible.”
  • Stoke on Trent – Stoke-on-Trent Libraries Secure £300,000 funding from Libraries Improvement Fund – Stoke on Trent Council. “The first project that will benefit from this funding, includes the installation of self-release printing on four library sites plus WiFi printing in all six libraries. A second project is also planned, which will modernise Stoke and Longton libraries, making them flexible community spaces for various groups and customers.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries officially launches Menopause & Me – Suffolk Libraries. “programme is being run with funding from the Department of Health and Social Care. It aims to help people who are experiencing the menopause and perimenopause, with a focus on empowering local employers to provide as much support as possible for their staff. Suffolk Libraries will be working with Suffolk Mind and other partners on the project.”
  • Suffolk: Museums and libraries receive £3m for improvements – East Anglian Daily Times. ” £219,000 from a separate fund to pay for the creation of an online tool providing tailored recommendations for people looking to find out more about local activities.”
  • Surrey – Surrey Libraries receive £75k funding – Surrey News. Flexible shelving. “The recent funding of £75k from the Arts Council Cultural Investment Fund will help libraries to continue to deliver their “Dynamic Spaces” project in eight libraries. The first part of this project was completed in 2022 with the provision of flexible shelving in ten libraries, which has meant that libraries can move furniture around to reconfigure spaces to accommodate far more events and services, and for many more of our residents.”
  • Wirral – Extended opening hours to return to Wirral libraries – Wirral Globe. Trial: “The four central libraries at Bebington, Birkenhead, Wallasey and West Kirby will be open until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Monday, April 3. Six community libraries will also have extended hours to include opening on four weekdays, plus every Saturday morning. This improved offer provides an additional 91 hours per week across the library service and improve residents’ access to books, technology, study space and all other services provided at the local library”