It’s probably safe to say that the last budget of this government’s term was not met with unfettered joy by the public library sector. The expected focus on tax (well, OK, National Insurance) cuts means that there will be very little money left for councils, already facing perhaps the most serious budgetary pressures in their history. CILIP didn’t mince words in their response, saying that the budget represented a “material threat” to the sector.

And what this means in practice does not take much in the way of effort to imagine. Also this week, Birmingham voted through possibly the deepest cuts ever in the UK, with 25 libraries likely to be closed, 11 more to become co-locations and 47 staff to be lost. In London, two councils (Haringey and Sutton) are replacing paid staff with card-entry. Scotland had some (temporary?) good news with Stirling removing all cuts while it thinks about it again but some definite bad news with South Lanarkshire confirming closure of seven branches. The good news is that the people of Northern Ireland can have access to new library books again, something one imagines has been taken for granted for generations up until the last year.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Angela Rayner Points Out A Very Obvious Problem With Nadine Dorries’ Endorsement Of Libraries – Huff Post / Yahoo. “Angela Rayner pointed out that a large flaw in Nadine Dorries’ new attempts to encourage people to go to libraries. Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, noted that hundreds of libraries have closed since the Conservatives were voted into power back in 2010, after the newly appointed culture secretary Dorries endorsed them on Sunday. Dorries tweeted: “It doesn’t matter where you’re from – a library card is a ticket to anywhere in the world. “It’s a chance to escape poverty, to broaden your horizons, to change your life, even.”. Angela replies “Why did you close 800 libraries then?
  • Jeremy Hunt, here’s all the ways your Spring Budget can start to fix our broken country – Big Issue. “Libraries are so much more than places to get books for free. They provide internet access – crucial for those claiming benefits – and in some cases act as warm spaces where community members can avoid the freezing cold. They generate £3.4 billion a year in value but are being neglected. Hard-up councils have reduced library spending by almost half since 2009/10. Libraries are often an easy target for cuts, but save the taxpayer money by improving literacy, wellbeing, employment and digital inclusion …”
  • LGA statement on Budget 2024 – Local Government Association. “It is disappointing that the Government has not announced measures to adequately fund the local services people rely on every day. Councils continue to transform services but, given that core spending power in 2024/25 has been cut by 23.3 per cent in real terms compared to 2010/11, it is unsustainable to expect them to keep doing more for less in the face of unprecedented cost and demand pressures.”
  • Librarians, apply to be an International Booker Prize Reading Challenge Ambassador – Reading Agency. “The prize is looking for three librarians from the UK and Ireland who are passionate about translated fiction to become Reading Challenge Ambassadors. The Ambassadors will be featured on the Booker Prizes and The Reading Agency’s channels, and have the chance to win tickets to the International Booker Prize 2024 ceremony. Reading Challenge Ambassadors will be sent a set of the 12 or 13 longlisted books after the announcement on 11 March”
  • Libraries: Protecting them helps everyone in the community – Herald. Regustrion required to read full article. “If the concept of a public library were proposed today, there is no doubt in my mind that it would be rejected by a great number of people as some kind of socialist utopian pipe dream.”
  • Library organisations call on government for long-term funding to protect services – BookSeller. “Libraries Connected and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) have called on the government for fair long-term funding for local government to protect libraries, in response to the Chancellor’s Budget Statement today (6th March). ” … “While both organisations welcomed the government’s announcement of new real-terms investment in cultural programmes, including £10m for the British Library North project in Leeds, they stressed the need for long-term sustainable support for libraries”
  • Passions: Libraries have been a lifelong focus from student social hub to parental inspiration and source of the latest titles – Scotsman. Registration required.
  • Show your work – finding & creating inspiration in the library sector – Artefacto. “We love seeing case studies, posts and articles from libraries and library staff celebrating their wins, whether big and small. But we also learn a lot from libraries sharing their experiences when things don’t necessarily go to plan.”
  • Statement: Libraries Minister must protect local library services – CILIP. “We hope that Government will take this final opportunity to avert further loss and hollowing-out of library services and to invest in the literacy, wellbeing and opportunity of future generations before it is too late.”
  • Sustainability in NHS Knowledge and Library Services Community of Practice joins the Green Libraries Campaign as a partner organisation – CILIP (press release). “The Green Libraries Campaign is the next stage of the Green Libraries Partnership, led by CILIP, which connects libraries across the UK through the annual Green Libraries Week and by allocating funding to enable libraries to launch green activities. It has also presented its inaugural Green Libraries Conference for knowledge sharing and green networking opportunities, and recently hosted free training workshops to support public library colleagues with tangible actions to embed and bring to life the pledges laid out in the Green Libraries Manifesto.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth asks “To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, if any, to protect spending on public libraries.”. Lord Parkinson replies “Local authorities in England have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service which meets local needs. It is for each local authority to consider how best to deliver this.”

They Work For You

International news

“We needed such a mega event with a focus on libraries to bring people towards books. There’s no doubt about it that libraries symbolise the progress of civilisation,” he pointed out. “Therefore, libraries need to be preserved, protected, promoted, developed, redeveloped and reshaped. As all of you know, there are multiple benefits of reading books, which can be “most conveniently done by visiting libraries,” he remarked.

Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi, at the Karachi Festival of Books & Libraries
  • Ukraine – Ukrainian libraries: two years under fire. An interview with Oksana Bruy – EUI Library Blog. ” The most recent data available suggests the war has affected all types of libraries in Ukraine, including national, regional, public, school, and university libraries. The number of operational libraries dropped to 26,281 by the beginning of 2023 compared to the previous year, representing a loss of approximately 4,000 libraries in the first year of war alone.”

“Ukrainian libraries remain central to communities, offering essential support services such as internet access, study spaces, legal or psychological consultations, language courses in English and Ukrainian and, of course, books. They also foster a sense of community cohesion and strength. However, in many communities in remote or frontline areas, many libraries are sadly closed, destroyed, or lack librarians. The constant threat of shelling makes it impossible for some to operate.”

  • USA – Haters attacked an inclusive public library. So its director made the whole city a book sanctuary – LGBTQ Nation. “no one from the Hoboken community, itself, seemed to oppose the event. The hate largely came from out of state, but it nonetheless made it clear that not even urban liberal enclaves in predominately blue states are safe from right-wing attacks. After the experience, Pu wanted to make it clear where her city stood. So she initiated the process of establishing the Hoboken Public Library as a book sanctuary.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Family fun at Bradford Libraries this Easter – Bradford Council. “here will be craft activities including making fluffy bunnies, designing Easter eggs, decorating bird houses, building Easter baskets, and creating Easter plant pots.” Easter egg hunts.
  • Buckinghamshire – New library collections will provide invaluable resource for families with children – Buckinghamshire Council. Available at two libraries. “Parenting and Childcare Topics (PACT) is a unique collection of 170 different books designed to help parents and carers of children and young people to navigate a variety of topics from pregnancy, to dealing with complex emotions and situations, right up to approaching university. The books cover everything from general parenting tips to specific situations such as being separated parents or caring for a child with special educational needs and disabilities.”
  • Calderdale – The joy of volunteering: why your community needs you – Yorkshire Bylines. Computer help volunteer describes experience. “Perhaps it’s too easy to imagine that the people coming for help with technology must be elderly and/or lonely. This is just not the case: they come from all age groups, all social walks of life, and with a variety of lived experience. IT knowledge isn’t age or class-specific, nor is the occasional need for a cup of tea, some cheery company from outside your usual circle, and someone to chat to, even if it’s just for an hour. Of course, some folks need more help than others, but even a little is often enough to get them started on the road to tech independence. There is not just a technological need, but a social need here that’s also being unfulfilled.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Listed Cambridge library back on market after last owner pulled out of deal – BBC. “The 19th Century Mill Road Library in Cambridge was sold last year. The buyer intended to use it as a charity headquarters, but then pulled out of the deal.”
Cheshire West and Cheshire
  • Cheshire West and Chester – World Book Day: Cheshire West libraries to give free books to children – Cheshire Standard. Libraries giving out £1 books and quiz. Fancy dress swap has ended. Theatre show.
  • Croydon – ‘The council is dismantling our borough, service by service’ – Inside Croydon. “So there’s yet another consultation over the closure of certain libraries in the borough. After fighting this for many years, I think this time we can all agree that the writing is on the wall.” … “The council has been trying to close libraries for over a decade now. The cost of running the service plus the high value of the land the buildings occupy makes them a good target for a council drowning in debt” … “if the people of Croydon are happy to see this happen, then so be it. As for me I still think seeing the look on a child’s face when they sit in the library surrounded by books and realise they can take some home is worth the fight.”
  • Cumberland – World Book Day: Carlisle offers best access to libraries – News and Star. “New data from TonerGiant has uncovered the areas in England with the best, and worst, access to libraries, with northern cities Carlisle and Lancaster taking the top spot” … “he data found that residents in Carlisle and Lancaster have the best access to libraries in England, with approximately nine libraries per 100,000 people in each city.”
  • Devon – After over 18s hours party with music, drinks and food at Barnstaple Library – North Devon Today. “Libraries Unlimited has held incredibly successful Library Lates at Exeter, and more recently at Paignton, and we’re really excited it’s now Barnstaple’s turn. “Our library building is perfect for a party. There’s plenty of room to roll out a huge variety of things for everyone to enjoy.”

“Bring your friends and make a zine, or just make a noise! We’re promising a great, low-cost night out for everyone to learn something new and meet new people. There’s even a free wristband for a proper festival feel!”

  • Haringey – Councillors clash over cut to libraries service during budget debate – Haringey Community Press. “A Lib Dem proposal to find a new leisure centres provider instead of cutting the libraries budget was rejected by Labour councillors” … Lib Dems “heavily criticised the proposed library service cuts, which the council announced late last year, representing a 31% cut to spending over the next three years. The plans include reduced opening hours and using volunteers instead of professional librarians.” and “criticised the council’s decision to insource leisure centres following the termination of the council’s contract with Fusion, saying the council should have found an alternative external provider to take on the responsibility.”
    • Haringey Council defends library cuts and tennis charges – Tottenham and Wood Green Independent. “Plans for the year from April 2025 would move libraries to a ‘self-service’ model, with users given a keycard to enter library buildings, professional librarians replaced with volunteers, no toilet access without staff present and no CCTV monitoring.” … “Haringey Council said the reduction in the libraries budget was “based on efficiencies, not cuts”, and that it would be co-producing its libraries strategy with local people and staff.”
  • Manchester – Package for Val campaign launches in libraries to fight city-wide period poverty on International Women’s Day – Manchester Council. “The Package For Val campaign was first trialled at Manchester Central Library and after helping countless women and girls who endure period poverty, it has now expanded to 18 other libraries across Manchester including Newton Heath, Gorton and Withington” … “The package contains 2 sanitary towels in a discrete paper bag, supplied to anyone who asks at the library counter for a Package for Val. Posters are put in public loos to raise awareness of the scheme to anyone who needs it”
  • North Ayrshire – Kilwinning banking hub open for business in the town library – Ardrossan Herald. “Cash Access UK have opened the hub in a temporary location for now – Kilwinning Library, on St Winning’s Lane. They are now looking for a permanent base for the banking hub in the town, which opened for the first time on Monday, March 4.”
  • Northern Ireland – New library books: £1m of funding announced for NI Libraries – BBC. “In September, Libraries NI said it did not have money to buy new books as it had a “significant funding gap” in its annual budget. Libraries NI chief executive Jim O’Hagan said the organisation was “very grateful to be able to buy books again”. The £1m award brings the total funding for book stock to £3m for 2023-24.”
    • Woman with disabilities ‘sat and cried’ after news that library service was suspended – Impartial Reporter / Yahoo. “A woman with disabilities who avails of the Libraries NI Homecall service, calling it her “last lifeline”, said she “sat and cried” when she was informed that it would be suspended over the summer months. The Homecall service enables readers to contact their local library and request a selection of books to be delivered to their home if they are unable to visit the library themselves or do not have someone who can go to the library on their behalf.”
Nottingham – “Take a virtual tour of your new Nottingham Central Library from the comfort of your own home. Accompanying poem written and performed by Georgina Wilding.”
  • Nottingham – Nottingham City Council statement as 500 jobs to go and sweeping cuts to services approved – West Bridgford Wire. “Reviewing Library Service provision while maintaining a comprehensive and efficient service offer appropriate to the needs of our citizens.”
  • Orkney – Read all about it: TV’s Simon and Trish ‘Race Across Libraries’ from Exeter to Orkney – Orkney Council. “Two intrepid literary explorers are hoping they won’t be ‘overdue’ when they attempt to travel 1,100 miles across the UK to visit seven libraries – including Orkney Library & Archive – in six days to promote accessible reading services. Taking part in the challenge later this month (March) are Simon Savidge from Libraries Connected and Trish Sail from RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). Simon is the man behind the Savidge Reads YouTube channel and broadcasts on books on Sky Arts while Trish, who is registered blind, last year won series three of the BBC’s Race Across the World with her best friend Cathie.”
South Lanarkshire: CILIPS give this caption to it: “‘Dear Library’ by Jackie Kay, created by South Lanarkshire Libraries for National Poetry Day. Closing libraries now appear at 0.23-0.30, 1.08-1.35, 2.10-2.20 and 2.27-4.26.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Dear Blantyre Library – CILIPS. ” I, along with countless others in our community, were heartbroken this weekend to hear confirmation of Blantyre Library’s closure, alongside six other branches across South Lanarkshire.” … “Here at CILIP Scotland, such news remains shocking but sadly unsurprising – you can read our archive of open letters to local authorities considering or implementing similar cuts to library services or consult the heat map we have created to visually illustrate our advocacy engagement throughout the last three years. Invariably, community campaigners with unparalleled local knowledge prove critical in calling decision makers to account. “
  • Stirling – Libraries Secure Reprieve in Budget After Massive Public Support, £100K Review Funded – BNN. “Following public support, libraries won a budget reprieve, avoiding closures and receiving £100,000 for future reviews, highlighting the community’s role in safeguarding essential services.”
  • Stoke on Trent – Longton Library refurbishment nears completion – Stoke on Trent Council. ” Longton library will temporarily close on Saturday 16 March, and will re-open to the general public on Monday 15 April. Work has been ongoing on the refurb of Longton Library since £300,000 of funding was secured from Arts Council England, as part of the Libraries Improvement Fund.”
    • Stoke-on-Trent Family Hubs introducing community book collections to mark World Book Day – Stoke on Trent Council. “Stoke-on-Trent Libraries will work with the Family Hubs to provide a wide range of books for younger readers while also catering for parents who enjoy reading. Community Book Collections will be available at Bentilee and Westfield (Normacot) Family Hubs as well as Thomas Boughey (Shelton) and Stoke North (Chell Heath) Children’s Centres.  This will complement the recent introduction of library memberships in Family Hubs, continuing the city council’s commitment to giving children in Stoke-on-Trent the best start and increasing reading levels.”
  • Suffolk – Bury St Edmunds Library team are pedalling for pounds – Suffolk Libraries. “Anyone visiting the library is welcome to join in the challenge and hop on the exercise bike in the library foyer and add as many miles as they like, making a donation in the process.”
    • Menopause & Me: the first year – Suffolk Libraries. “Suffolk Libraries runs the project in partnership with Suffolk Mind and over the past year has developed a new range of support, guidance and resources to help people in Suffolk experiencing the menopause and perimenopause. New support groups have also been launched in some libraries and courses offered to local employers and those affected by menopause.”
  • Sutton – Sutton libraries to open for longer – Sutton Council. “councillors agreed plans to introduce self access technology in all eight of the borough’s libraries.” … “he busier libraries, Sutton Central and Wallington, will be fully staffed from 9am to 5pm and will be self-access during extended hours.  Smaller libraries will remain staffed at least one day a week, but will be open for longer with extended periods of self access.” … “Lack of money means we have to find ways to save money and self-service does this.”
  • Tameside – Tameside libraries prepare for World Book Day events – Quest Media Network. “two story telling sessions, ran by the theatre company 2 Boards & A Passion.” Crafts and giving out tokens.
  • Warwickshire – Warwickshire Libraries enhance sensory offer with introduction of social stories – Warwickshire Council. “The guides include plenty of photos to help customers to the library familiarise themselves with the look, feel and layout before they visit, as well as highlighting environmental factors that may impact people with sensory differences, such as noise levels and crowded areas. “
  • Worcestershire – Great news for Rubery’s library members as Libraries Unlocked launches this week – Worcestershire Council. Staffless technology introduced “extending Rubery Library opening hours for Libraries Unlocked members to 8am – 8pm, Monday to Saturday.”. Those 15 or under can visit if accompanied someone aged over 15 who is a member.