It’s great to see mention of the combined Sidcup library and cinema, “Storyteller”, in Bexley. Some co-locations of libraries with other services don’t work – you can normally tell which by the prominence of the library or otherwise when you enter the building – but combining a library with a cinema or, as in the case of the similarly named Storyhouse, with a theatre, strikes me as a natural combination. Seemingly also naturally combined at the moment are announcements of cuts and refurbishments all in one week. Ah, the joy of an atomised public library service. Much of the bad news is down to further cuts in funding for local government. It is to be hoped that the extra funding announced this week will help. Or doing this website is going to get pretty depressing in 2024.


In other news, thanks to a reader of the previous post who sent me a list of libraries named after men. Of course, the biggest number of all – Carnegie – is almost so big as to be invisible (like water to a fish) but apart from him we have:

  • Haringey – Marcus Garvey Library, named after a Jamaican political activist (his life story is fascinating) who moved to London.
  • Hull –  Fred Moore Library, named (I think?) after a councillor.
  • Lambeth – Minet Library. The Minet Library was built by William Minet and opened in 1890. Minet was a descendant of French Huguenots who immigrated to London in the 1700s, and 1889 he also gave 14½ acres of land to the London County Council to create Myatt’s Fields Park.
    • Durning Library, Kennington, also in Lambeth. Durning Library is a public lending library in Kennington, London. The Durning Library was built in 1889, designed by Sidney R. J. Smith the architect of Tate Britain, in the Gothic Revival style. It was a gift to the people of Kennington from Jemina Durning Smith.
    • Brixton Tate Library, yet another in Lambeth. The Brixton Library (also known as the Brixton Tate Library) is a public library in the London Borough of Lambeth in Brixton, South West London. It was built in the 1890s by the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate and is a Grade II listed building. Also Tate South Lambeth Library so that is no less than four libraries named after a man in one service.
  • There are also several Passmore Edwards Libraries, including one in Shepherd’s Bush and in Newton Abbot. Built and funded by John Passmore Edwards, a philanthropist that paid for no less than 24 libraries.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Britain faces a literacy crisis that could make us fatter, less employable and depressed – Standard. “One fifth of public libraries in Britain, moreover, have closed in the past ten years”
  • How to lose a library – Public Books. “On October 31, 2023, the British Library suffered a massive cyberattack. As of publication, the Library remains physically open, but its digital infrastructure is almost completely disabled.”
  • Making more of libraries – BookSeller. “the success of partnerships with retailers can be easily tracked through book sales; collaborations with libraries may offer a more subtle and longer-term halo effect. But the public library network, with up to 4,000 libraries in every part of the UK, cannot be matched for its scale, reach and influence on our reading habits. As the forums demonstrated there is a real opportunity to build the relationship between libraries and publishers and an enthusiasm to see how mutually beneficial partnerships can be established. By working together to help readers explore new or unfamiliar authors and genres, libraries and publishers can foster a more diverse literary landscape – something that will benefit everyone who writes, sells, lends, or reads books.”
  • The Reading Agency announces Quick Reads will be gifted for World Book Night 2024 – Reading Agency. “36,000 copies of the 2024 Quick Reads will be gifted through libraries to reach emerging and lapsed readers in settings such as hospitals, prisons, care homes and shelters in the community”
  • Volunteers step in to take on cut council services – BBC. “Councils are not legally obliged to run leisure centres or libraries [untrue – Ed.] which means that without the help of volunteers, the library in Wilsden, Bradford, would have likely closed.”. Bradford, “which is close to declaring bankruptcy” says “”We have a lower budget for libraries than many other places so are grateful to these and other great volunteers who run the 15 community-managed libraries across the district.”” 
  • Where should libraries go now Twitter *HAS* become a wasteland? – Ned Potter. For public libraries: “For all Facebook’s problems (across all demographics except 55+ people are leaving FB, but so many 55+ are on there it is still the biggest social network – and daily use is consistently falling whilst leaping ever upwards on Instagram and TikTok) it remains a really useful tool for Public Libraries. It can act almost as a branch online, and Cape May County Library in the US and Hampshire Library Service in the UK are good examples of places doing that well. However, I think Instagram is the coming platform for this sector”

International news

Local news by authority

West Dunbartonshire