I remember the first Save Libraries Day, back in 2011. It was a huge grass-roots explosion of events and protests back in the days when cuts to libraries was a shocking surprise. That day was soon co-opted by public library services to promote the sector and, I notice, in the recent review it was suggested that the date be moved to be more public-relations friendly. So, another year, and another austerity. This week’s post includes serious cut announcements by Birmingham and Croydon. So it’s not a surprise that campaigners are getting antsy again and Alan Wylie, who was there in the beginning (and the original instigator Alan Gibbons), are calling for national protest again. Question is, will this country, which has now had over a decade of getting used to libraries being cut, go for it?

The solution to the sector’s major problem, but not the only one (the others being major technological and societal change, accelerated by a global pandemic), has been neatly and humorously summarised by the I as “Give us some ****ing money.”” This simply won’t happen under the current Government. The Sanderson Report didn’t even try to list it as a suggestion. Indeed, what the sector is looking at now is more cuts, made worse by inflation (and the decision to spend any spare money on tax cuts rather than maintaining services). So “Let us keep at the least the money you haven’t taken away previously” may be more accurate. Less amusing, though.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • The best of times, the worst of times for public libraries – CILIP. Isobel Hunter: ” if you wind back 20 years where you had chief librarians. Now you look at our members and you don’t always have the word library in their job titles.” … “It feels like the best of times because there’s amazing innovation happening in public libraries, and the worst of times because the financial environment for local authorities is really hard” … “One of the options presented to councils 10 years ago was outsourcing their libraries. Asked if this was being discussed again she said: “Not at the moment. But spinning out is always on the table when councils are pressed by immediate and long-term funding pressures.”
  • Ex-pat left life savings to two Scots libraries – BBC. “Letitia McKell bequeathed more than £350,000 to libraries in Motherwell and East Kilbride when she died in 2001”
  • Jo Cornish to be Interim CEO of CILIP – CILIP. “Jo, a Chartered Fellow of CILIP, with a background in public libraries, has accumulated eight years of experience at CILIP, gaining extensive knowledge of membership needs, priorities, and the organisation’s offerings.”

“”Baby Bushka, the 8-woman strong Kate Bush experience of your dreams is headed to the UK + Ireland on Tour this Autumn! They are looking to add some intimate literary acoustic concerts featuring their re-writes of Kate Bush songs using famous poems, like this version of Hound of Love with Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven. Or this T.S. Eliot mashup “Running Up That Street with Prufrock” Please contact them at ilovebabybushka@gmail.com if you’re interested in booking them. “

Email received.
  • A method for library data storytelling – Library data blog.
  • NAG’s 14th Collection Development Seminar and Public Library Forum – National Acquisitions Group. “NAG’s 14th edition of the highly successful Collection Development seminar takes place at the Friends House, 173-177 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ, on Thursday 16th May 2024 alongside our separate Public Library Forum. For this edition, the topic is “Rise of the Machines.” NAG invites papers from those that can share knowledge, best practice, experiences and reflections around the impact of technology.
  • On the matter of the British Library cyber incident – Ciaran’s Crispy Cogitations. The hackers are Russian so unlikely ever to be punished; BL not considered that important a target to protect but it’s impact and vulnerability make such targets tempting; recovery was very slow.
  • Sanderson Report shows that libraries are part of something bigger – CILIP. “Nine minutes of BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting house was dedicated to the plight of libraries and the huge range of services they provide, recognising that libraries were taken for granted and misunderstood.”
  • Witherick leaves Libraries Connected for ASCEL – BookSeller. “Witherick is an experienced charity executive and chartered librarian and will join ASCEL at the end of March 2024. Formerly regional development manager at Libraries Connected, and head of library service and customer experience at Libraries Unlimited, she has a background in leadership and delivering development projects and programmes. “
  • You can’t put a price on the joy of libraries – I / Opinion. Lucy Mangan translates Isobel Hunter’s response to the Independent Review on public libraries as ” I think what is actually being said here is something along the lines of – “Branding campaign? Libraries laureate? National data hub showing the effects of libraries on communities? I’ll tell you what shows the effects of libraries on communities – libraries! Give us some ****ing money for libraries instead of laureates and posters and we’ll show you some ****ing effects!” Or, to put it more succinctly still – “Give us some ****ing money.””

International news

Part of me thinks we’re rediscovering libraries not as something new, but for what they’ve always been: a shared space of comfort.”

Arlo Platt Zolov,s a 15-year-old who lives in Brooklyn 

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Five libraries to offer extended opening hours – Aberdeen Council. “The changes reflect demand on provision where nearby libraries have closed, as well as information gathered from library consultations and library developments in Torry Library within the new Greyhope School and Community Hub.”
Staff shortages continue in Bristol to be severe enough to close multiple libraries at a time
  • East Riding – East Riding Libraries offer a wide range of free activities this February half term for children and families East Riding Council. “Sessions include the popular Lego Art, using specially designed Lego Art kits to make amazing pictures out of bricks. ”
    • Gruffalo puppet events to be held in East Yorkshire – BBC. “The events, which feature puppetry, are part of celebrations to mark the book’s 25th anniversary. The sessions, being held at libraries and community hubs, are free but booking is essential”
  • Edinburgh – Future Libraries engagement begins today – Edinburgh Council. “With the old Muirhouse library having been demolished in 2021, the new community hub at Macmillan Square is being developed in partnership with North Edinburgh Arts and will incorporate a creative arts space, our Early Years facility, employability support, six flats for social rent, and of course a thriving community library.” … ” With technological advances, changing public expectations and increasing budget pressures, we now need to consider what the future should look like for our library service and how it can best meet the needs of our city’s residents.”
  • Gloucestershire – 10-year-old girl raises hundreds for struggling library – Wilts and Gloucrestershire Standard. “story last week on the Fairford & Lechlade page of the Wilts & Glos Standard about Lechlade Community Library needing financial help has prompted ten year old Ella Bacon to start fundraising to help the library reach its target for the refurbishment work needed.”
  • Haringey – Haringey library cuts to pay for council to run leisure centres – Ham and High. “They provide a place for education, for technology and for community. It therefore came as a shock to find out that our Labour-run council has, as part of its budget, pencilled in a cut of over 30% to libraries over the next two years, shortening hours and leaving some buildings unmanned. Next year will see cuts of £700,000, which will lead to reduced hours across branch libraries at Alexandra Park, Coombes Croft, Highgate, Muswell Hill, St Ann’s, Stroud Green and Harringay.”
  • York – York: Row over proposed £600,000 cuts to library services – BBC. “Councillor Jo Coles, executive member for health, said services across the council had experienced cuts since 2010, with Explore “the one exception to this rule”. “We feel it is only fair that each service takes a share of responsibility for budget reductions,” she said.”
    • More than 2,000 sign ‘Save York’s libraries from cuts’ petition – Press. “Lib Dem councillor for Haxby and Wigginton Andrew Hollyer said: “York residents have not been consulted on Labour’s heartless budget. “Perhaps this is why over 2,000 residents have come out in support of our petition. “We have four more weeks to save York’s libraries and I would encourage all residents to sign our petition to reverse this heartless cut.””