It’s not often that I get to report on Scottish public library closures. This is because, well, there aren’t that many Scottish library closures. Aberdeen, however, is bucking the trend by closing six libraries, despite sizeable opposition. The amount of money saved is £280k. Meanwhile, the same council is putting an art installation in, right next to a closing library, for £155k. So, there’s priorities for you. The new First Minister of Scotland had, as one of his first duties, the need to respond to why this happened with a SNP council in charge of Aberdeen. His response was not overly reassuring.

In other news, the beta version of LibraryOn is now open for people to look at. It’s hard to tell with such things and unfair to give an opinion on an unfinished product so I will refrain from commenting on it yet.

The normal madness in US libraries is continuing, with Republicans now trying to withdraw funding from public libraries because there’s some fight back over censoring stock. This, as Judy Blume notes this week, is a dark time for America and is downright embarrassing to look at. Great also to see Wil Wheaton getting in on the act. Not embarrassing at all, though, is a nice new library song to have a listen to. I’m also loving the Somerset idea of lending out activity monitoring watches.

Changes by local authority



National news

  • BFI Replay – BFI. “BFI Replay is a free-to-access digital archive exclusively available in UK public lending libraries. Thousands of digitised videos and television programmes from the BFI National Archive and partner UK regions and nations film archives are available to browse and enjoy, research or study – with some familiar and memorable, others rare and unseen for decades. If you are a UK lending library service and would be interested in knowing more about the service, use our enquiry form below.”
  • The Buildings of Philanthropist John Passmore Edwards – Historic England. “Over 70 buildings were constructed in 14 years due to his dedicated philanthropy, including libraries, literary institutes and art galleries.”. 19 libraries for 19 letters: “Taking advantage of the 1850 Free Libraries Act, he pursued opportunities for public self advancement. His ambition was to build a library for every letter of his name. The 1850 Act gave local councils the power to establish libraries open to everyone without a subscription, and many councils had technical schools for science and art.”
  • In celebration of small & thoughtful innovation – Artefacto. “Consider the significance of the fine-free library policy. This relatively minor adjustment has had a profound impact on making the library more inclusive and equitable.” …
  • Libraries in five London boroughs to benefit from £60m funding – Yahoo News.
  • Libraries Strategy Update – DCMS. “Baroness Sanderson began a series of 9 in-depth discussion sessions with a wide range of people – both within and outside the sector – looking at the successes of the sector as well as the challenges confronting it and possibilities for the future. These sessions are taking place in libraries all over the country from Ipswich to Leeds, focusing on one of the 7 strategic outcomes in Ambition, plus sessions on libraries governance and ‘blue sky thinking’.” … ” The conversations have been wide ranging and thought provoking covering issues such as the need for improved data collection to better showcase the impact of public libraries, how libraries can most effectively  raise awareness of their local and national offer and the importance of seeing libraries as an investment rather than a cost.”
  • LibraryOn – Site now in Beta, with very limited functionality. Includes LibraryMap to show where your nearest library is (many links not working correctly as of yet). Become a Beta tester here. Includes grants for public libraries.
  • Musician Natalie Merchant, poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley, library funding – BBC. “Libraries were awarded the smallest amount of money from the Cultural Investment Fund, which was announced last week. Front Row speaks to Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, the Library and Information Association.”
  • £5.8 million project to deliver a more sustainable future for Open Access books – University of Lancaster. “Led by Lancaster University, the Open Book Futures (OBF) project will develop and support organisations, tools and practices that enable both academics and the wider public to make more and better use of books published on an Open Access basis. “

International news

“Sarah Brimelow is offering a short, fun video to any group that wants to promote their library service. You can view it here. It was made by her partner, ‘part-time musician’ John Phillips. He says: ‘During lockdown I started making videos to accompany my home recordings. I was inspired to make “My Local Library” because I was impressed with the range of services offered at Grove Vale Library in Southwark, and concerned about the threatened loss of libraries to local communities in the UK.””
  • Australia – In this sleepy Sydney suburb, a 24-hour venue is thriving – Sydney Morning Herald. “the suburb has become an unlikely champion for the 24-hour business district, as the home of Sydney’s library that never sleeps.”. Staffless over the small hours.
  • Global – Public Library of the Year – Systematic. “To qualify in 2023, the library must be built and opened between January 1st 2022 and December 31st 2022. “
  • USA – Judy Blume worried about intolerance and book banning in the US – BBC. “I came through the 80s when book banning was really at its height. And it was terrible. And then libraries and schools began to get policies in place and we saw a falling off of the desire to censor books. Now it is back, it is back much worse …”
    • Libraries Need More Freedom to Distribute Digital Books – Atlantic. ” if Controlled Digital Lending sought to provide an alternative pathway for the possession and use of digital books, it did so only after a new, highly constrained marketplace arose that disadvantages the mission of libraries. The frustration libraries feel about this state of affairs has reached a high enough level that bills are making their way through a number of state legislatures trying to regulate the library-ebook market.”
    • “The library is a safe place.” – Wil Wheaton Dot Net. “Why libraries? Because the library is so much more than a building with lots of books, internet access, 3D printers, D&D programs for kids, and all the other things. The library represents and offers equal access for everyone to all of those things. Not just the wealthy. Not just the privileged. Not just the in-group. It is a safe place for everyone to be curious, to find inspiration, to sit in the stacks, as far away from the door and the world as possible, and just quietly exist for a minute. (Don’t you love the way those books smell?) The public library is a safe place for all of us, whether we are a kid who feels invisible, a woman who is lost, or a New York Times bestselling author who has the privilege of sharing their story with you.”
    • Missouri House gives initial approval to $45.6 billion state budget that defunds libraries – NPR. “Democrats and Republicans repeatedly clashed over language that bans staffing for any programs or vendors “associated with diversity, equity and inclusion.”
    • Programming with Constructive Destruction, a guest post by Austin Ferraro – Teen Librarians Toolbox. “our library can be the center of absolute chaos on Friday afternoons.”

Local news by authority

“… Equally, it is often the case that members across the chamber quite rightly believe, as I do, that decisions for a local authority should be made by the local authority. Aberdeen City Council’s plan to close libraries will be extremely difficult for the library staff and the community. However, we recognise the financial challenges that local authorities are facing.” AberdeenHumza Yousaf Scottish National Party

  • Aberdeen – Anger as council confirms plans to close libraries and swimming pool – STV News. “An emergency meeting was held at the Town Hall in Aberdeen for councillors to have a second vote on budget cuts. Following deliberations, the decision was confirmed by a vote of 24-21.It meant plans to close Bucksburn Pool and Cults, Kaimhill, Woodside, Northfield, Cornhill and Ferryhill libraries were confirmed. Protesters said they won’t stop their fight, despite being unable to voice their concerns at Monday’s meeting.”
  • Anger as £155k to be awarded to ‘inferior’ Woodside Gateway project over saving library just yards away – Press and Journal. “Opposition councillors have slammed the decision to spend £155,615 on an art installation in Woodside while shutting the library around the corner.”
    • Opinion: Not just books – Public libraries and their role in communities – Robert Gordon University. “The public library quality framework for Scotland, ‘How good is our public library service?’ helps to inform what ‘adequate’ might look like by suggesting that it is a ‘planned strategic network of branches offering core functions’. The danger with piecemeal reactive cuts to branches as part of annual budget-setting processes is that services end up without that ‘planned strategic network’ of libraries, delivering services to communities for whom it really matters.”
    • Protestors against library closures at Aberdeen council meeting – Herald Scotland.
    • Scotland’s Makar slams ‘uniquely cold’ move to shut Aberdeen libraries – National. “She said it meant communities would be deprived of literature and learning and insisted Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie – who donated money to build thousands of libraries – would be “spinning in his grave”.As Makar, I’m dismayed to hear of Aberdeen Council’s determination to close six local libraries,” said Jamie.“There is something uniquely cold and shrivelling about closing down libraries.”
    • Six libraries to close in Aberdeen, despite efforts to save them – Guardian. “Many of the buildings are in deprived areas, say Save Aberdeen Libraries, while Aberdeen City Council argues facilities will be moved to cheaper ‘hubs’”. SNP says “We’re closing buildings, we’re not reducing library facilities and services,” the newspaper reported him as saying. “For example, the one in Torry – we’re closing the building but the Torry library service will go into a hub in the school two minutes walk away. We’re closing buildings which are old, expensive to heat and need staff, so we’re co-locating the service in schools and community centres.””
    • SLIC criticises Aberdeen City Council’s decision to close six libraries – BookSeller. “Pamela Tulloch, SLIC chief executive, told The Bookseller that the decision “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what a library service is by those elected members who voted to close one third of the Aberdeen’s public libraries”.”
  • BarnsleyBarnsley’s libraries set for huge overhaul after securing £50k grant – Yahoo News. “The LFT aims to increase and improve digital access within communities by increasing the number of users accessing services and increasing the number of PCs available to users.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Relaunching Brighton & Hove’s toy library – Brighton and Hove Council. “An additional smaller toy collection has been set up in Coldean Library and a new satellite toy library established at Portslade to provide wider accessibility for residents. Toy libraries are a fantastic way to keep your toy box full without breaking the bank, provide mental stimulation to your child, make friends and meet new people. “
  • Coventry – Libraries provide a much-needed home for digital cultureArts Professional. ” how bringing digital culture into Coventry’s libraries is building communities and helping to bridge a digital divide.”
  • Devon – Unlocking the Cage at Tavi Library – Tavistock Today. “The installation features a uniquely designed book which you use to navigate your journey. With the turn of each page, narration, original music and stunning animations bring the stories to life. The exhibit can be enjoyed alone or in groups of up to four people at a time, taking around 28 minutes to complete, no need to book. Find out more at librariesevolve.org.uk”
    • Future uncertain for Devon’s mobile library service – BBC. “The mobile library vans were “expensive to maintain” and “far fewer” people now used them, Devon County Council said.Roger Croad, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said three of the county’s four vans were coming to the “end of their serviceable lives”.Replacing them would cost between £500,000 and £800,000, Mr Croad said.” … “Despite an uncertain future for the mobile service, a report to the committee revealed that, across the whole library service in Devon, the number of visitors and active library users had continued to increase.” Consultation.
  • Inverclyde – Libraries team up with arts group for workshops this Easter – Yahoo News.
  • Kent – Save Folkestone Library – Facebook group. “Kent County Council have announced the planned closure of our 135 year old library, one of the last free, warm, communal safe spaces in Folkestone. The library was gifted to the people of Folkestone, and is not Kent County Council’s to sell. We must fight back.”
  • Lincolnshire – Works start on Boston Library building this April – Lincolnshire Council. “Boston Library is based in the County Hall building in the town centre. The private owner of the building is carrying out extensive work over the coming months to turn a large part of the building into a hotel. As part of these works, the area occupied by the library needs to be made stand-alone, to separate it internally from the hotel.”
  • Merton – Mitcham Library receives funding boost for education and digital hub – Merton Council. Library Improvement Funding. “The funding will make adaptations to the building to increase access using self-service technology (already deployed at our four branch sites) and create a makerspace using 3D printing, coding and virtual reality equipment, a large TV screen and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources. “
  • Nottingham – Council has spent £24,000 storing books amid fit-out of new Central Library – Notts TV. “Nottingham City Council opted to retire the facility and keep it closed during the development of the new £10.5m Central Library, which forms part of the new Broadmarsh Car Park and Bus Station. Residents have been left without a main city library ever since, and the project to build a new one has been hit with numerous delays.”
  • Nottinghamshire – £1.2 million for rural gigabit broadband for libraries and schools through devolution deal – Nottinghamshire Council. “The Government have made £1.2 million of funding available for new gigabit broadband for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Nottingham. It means that an extra 118 rural public sector schools and libraries will be connected to gigabit broadband. When complete, it will help librarians and teachers and allow whole classes to be online at once with no interruptions.”
  • Somerset – Somerset libraries offering activity tracker by SASP – Bridgwater Mercury. “Each Activity Tracker Watch can be loaned completely free for up to six weeks and every watch is cleared of all the data and information when you return it, ensuring your privacy isn’t compromised.”
  • Southend on Sea – Your Library Needs you! Apply to become a Summer Reading Challenge volunteer – Southend on Sea Council.
  • Staffordshire – Mobile library service now available in Burton – Staffordshire Council. “A mobile library service is now available in Burton outside the main library building after it closed temporarily on Monday due to safety concerns.”
  • Suffolk – Discover your new favourite reads with Suffolk Libraries DiscoveReads programme – Suffolk Libraries. “DiscoveReads is a reading programme launched by Suffolk Libraries in 2020 to help people broaden their reading horizons and find exciting new reading experiences. It includes a lively Facebook discussion group with nearly 700 members, and each month the group discusses an unlimited audiobook title on our free BorrowBox service.”
  • Swindon – Library becomes first in town to abolish late fees for under 10s – Yahoo News. Old Town Library. “Until now, only children aged between 0-4 were exempt from late fees, but that is now being extended to all children aged 10 and under in a year-long trial.” … “”Families tell me they are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, and while they like to use the library the fear of overdue fines is a barrier to them letting their children borrow.”
  • Wiltshire – New chapter as library officially opens at new home – Yahoo News. Durrington: “The library has been relocated to the Robinson Room at Durrington Village Hall, a much-anticipated feat made possible by Wiltshire Council. The previous location was a well-used portacabin which had reached the end of its structural life. The new home will help to preserve the future of the library and the essential services that it provides to local residents.”
  • Wirral – Extended opening hours to return to Wirral libraries – Wirral Globe. “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.”