In a shocking expose from the ever-balanced and fair Fox News, we discover that American public libraries are drug-infested sex dens. This must come as something of a surprise to their users. Also, to their library staff too, it seems, as many have taken to Twitter to ask where these libraries are (including, suspiciously, wanting their precise addresses, presumably for private research purposes).

After we have stopped laughing, it’s worth considering where this headline is coming from. It’s from the classic exaggeration/slander/don’t-look-behind-the-curtain realm of propaganda. To impose one’s views on a democratic country, there needs to be a reason, and this is it for libraries: we are a bunch of pro-drug gender extremists that need to be controlled. It’s nothing to do with freedom of speech, heaven’s no, it’s protecting the children. Thankfully, it has not quite come to this in this country, but it’s getting closer each day. Heck, it’ll probably be an item on officially-not-a-news-channel GB News any day now.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • CILIP Appoints Louis Coiffait-Gunn as new CEO – CILIP. “Louis was introduced to public libraries at a young age as his grandmother was a librarian in a neighbouring village. As he currently finishes a period of parental leave, he has continued this tradition by taking his baby to storytime at libraries across Hackney.”
  • CloudLibrary finds a new home in OCLC – Bibliotheca.
  • Fun Palaces Workshops – Fun Palaces. Various workshops on who to involve, what they are, where and how, funding, sustainability and advertising.

Libraries, join the Blue Peter Book Club this May! We are inviting librarians to join this online workshop at 4pm on 16 April 2024 to hear about how you can get involved in the Blue Peter Book Club and encourage children in your library to explore the world of books together. There are some exciting things lined up for the Book Club in May with opportunities for public, community and school libraries to join in, and we want you to be the first to hear about them. Join us in this webinar to find out more about the Book Club, the selected books, and how your library can take part and support children to earn their book badge. The webinar will be recorded and shared to catch up on. Register today – 

The Reading Agency, by email.
  • Sir Roly Keating to step down as Chief Executive of the British Library in April 2025 – British Library. “Under Sir Roly’s leadership, the Library has undergone a transformation in its public impact and its visibility across the UK and internationally. With a focus on openness, creativity and innovation, his tenure has seen the establishment of major new partnerships including the Knowledge Quarter around its London HQ, the Business & IP Centre National Network and the Living Knowledge Network of public and national libraries across the UK.”
  • The vorfreude secret: 30 zero-effort ways to fill your life with joy – Guardian. ““Making a regular trip to your local library is a great way to insert vorfreude into your life””
  • ‘Weathervanes of their Communities’ – The Sanderson Review, public libraries and information literacy futures – Edinburgh Napier University. “Recent independent reviews of public library services in England have argued for a more comprehensive and cohesive strategy to promote the many benefits of these services. However a critical lack of quality data to support these conclusions, particularly on the impact of information literacy formation, means that such reviews are in danger of missing further opportunities to develop the wide and varied roles public libraries play in their communities.”

International news

What are our library leaders thinking about the future? Erik Boekesteijn (National Library of the Netherlands) interviewed many library leaders from around the world and put them together in one documentary video.
  • Pakistan -Tall tales but no dessert: the storyteller of Karachi and his ice-cream cart library – Guardian. “About 15,000 children have attended more than 700 Kahaani Sawaari storytelling sessions since the project was launched in 2021. Erum Kazi, GoRead’s programme director, says parents have told her how their children have developed a love for reading since the scheme began”
  • Ukraine – Send a mobile library to Ukraine – Crowdfunder. “To date over 600 public libraries and 2,000 school libraries have been damaged or destroyed by Russian troops” … “When we asked our partners in Ukraine how we could help, they said they needed a mobile library. With a mobile library they could continue to provide a service when their library buildings have been destroyed or damaged.”. £10,000 needed for reconditioned mobile library: £160 given at time of accessing webpage.
  • USA- ALA Releases State of America’s Libraries 2024 Report – American Libraries. “ALA recorded 1,247 attempts to censor materials and services at libraries, schools, and universities in 2023. Of the 4,240 unique titles that were challenged or banned in 2023, here are the top 10 most frequently challenged”
    • Analysis: A Statehouse rite of spring — a showdown over libraries – Idaho Ed News. “The 2024 legislative session is ending the way the 2023 session did. And the way the 2022 session did. With a showdown over libraries. Something that has become an informal rite of spring at the Statehouse. On Wednesday, the Senate and the House passed a bill that would require school and public libraries to take steps to keep obscene materials away from minors. House Bill 710 now goes to Gov. Brad Little, who vetoed a library bill at the end of the 2023 session.”
    • MAGA Rage Targeting Local Librarians Is Getting Uglier – New Republic. Podcast.

Local news by authority

Croydon – “We are fighting to keep our library open! #bradmoregreenlibrary #oldcoulsdon” via Twitter.
  • Devon – Devon libraries launch reading adventure for under-fives – Tavistock Today. “Almost 7,000 children have so far signed up to read 50 books on The Secret Book Quest, and we are hoping to reach just as many little ones with Libro’s Friends.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire Council strikes “short-term” deal with Aura for running of county’s leisure and library services – Deeside. “The authority is understood to be planning to bring the management of libraries, museums, and play areas back in-house, while exploring an “alternative delivery model” for leisure services.” .. ” the council had offered the company £1 million to continue delivering leisure services in the short-term from April, which would last for approximately three months. But proposals related to libraries, museums, and play areas were described as “less clear”, with Aura unwilling to use its reserves to fund services.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library of Things helping Charlton Kings residents save money – BBC. “The Library of Things was launched by CK Futures – a division of the parish council – Vision 21 project Planet Cheltenham, and Gloucestershire Libraries. Residents can borrow pressure washers, carpet cleaners, tools and even chocolate fountains, alongside the library’s books.”
  • Hackney – Stoke Newington Library’s refurbishment gets £500k funding boost – Hackney Citizen. “The cash will go towards a redesign of the library’s interiors, with the council hoping to kit it out with the “best facilities possible”. Those include improved reading rooms, study spaces, a new children’s area, and a cultural and digital hub. The community library service will also get its own integrated space.”
  • Lancashire – Rawtenstall Library to close it’s doors for ‘investigation into staircase’ – Lancashire Live. “Rawtenstall Library will close for around four weeks from Monday, while investigative work is undertaken on the staircase. A precise schedule for the closure will not be given until the work begins. However, customers are being reassured that fines for overdue loans from Rawtenstall Library will be waived while the building is shut.”
  • Monmouthshire – Borrowing a laptop as easy as borrowing a library book with Monmouthshire County Council – Monmouthshire Council. “The laptops that will be available were initially purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic to help pupils continue their learning remotely. Now, residents can use them to access online resources from the comfort of their own homes.”
  • Norfolk – Norwich man threatened to kill library staff in The Forum – Eastern Daily Press. “Jamie Turner, 32, became violent and abusive when he was asked to leave the Millennium Library at The Forum in Norwich on January 7. Norwich Magistrates’ Court was told he assaulted one member of staff telling them: “If I see you in the street I’ll kill you.””
  • North Northamptonshire – Doors open at new community library and well-being hub in Higham Ferrers – Northamptonshire Telegraph. First library provision in town since 2019.
  • North Yorkshire – Discover Skipton’s hidden heritage with three new trails – Craven Herald and Pioneer/Yahoo. “The four trails produced for the HSHAZ programme join three other North Yorkshire trails based on collections from Harrogate, Scarborough libraries and one for Northallerton curated by North Yorkshire County Record Office on the ‘What Was Here?’ app, created by East Riding of Yorkshire Archives, which is free to download now on Google Play and the App Store. Check out the accompanying website at www.whatwashere.org.”
  • Sheffield – Stocksbridge 519 library plan approved – BBC. “The three-storey building will replace the town’s existing library and community shop.” Existing library to be demolished to make way for £24m new build.
  • Shropshire – Library to close for a week while council spends Arts Council money on new shelves – Shropshire Star. “Last year Shropshire Council was awarded £236,950 by Arts Council England to install new equipment that will make library spaces more accommodating and accessible to the wider community.” … “Shropshire Council has used the funds to purchase 1:1 interview pods with supporting technology, enabling private consultations with the public” … “It has also purchased new mobile shelving to create flexible space to accommodate health and wellbeing sessions offered through social prescribing and creative health models.”
    • Anger as school library service cut to save money – BBC. “Parents and teachers have reacted angrily to a decision by Shropshire Council to end a service providing schools with new books and learning material. The School Library Service has a catalogue of more than 250,000 books, artefacts, DVDs and online resources. Two-thirds of schools across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin pay to use it. Shropshire Council, however, has said it can no longer afford to subsidise the service. An online petition has been started by the head teacher of Christ Church CE Primary School in Cressage, which paid about £1,300 for the service last year.”
    • Whitchurch Library ‘pop up’ service expanded – Shropshire Council. “Library staff have been running a temporary ‘pop-up’ service on market day every Friday morning since Whitchurch Civic Centre was forced to close for safety reasons in September 2023”
  • South Gloucestershire What South Gloucestershire Council library cuts mean for your branch – Bristol Post. “The local authority is slashing £273K from its annual spending on the vital community facilities, including £25K for books”… “South Gloucestershire’s libraries will be closed for an extra 40 hours every week in total as part of huge cuts. But that is about half of what was originally proposed. This is becauser the authority managed to find some savings elsewhere to cushion the blow for the books budget, which was initially going to be slashed by a quarter – £50,000 – but will now go down by £25,000.”
  • Suffolk – New Stoke Library Open Day – Suffolk Libraries. “The new library occupies a slightly bigger space and has new carpets and furniture with flexible wheeled shelving to make it easier to hold events and activities in the library.”
    • Suffolk Libraries shortlisted for national library awards – Suffolk Libraries. “The Be Kind to a Kid appeal was run by Suffolk Libraries in partnership with BBC Radio Suffolk in late 2023. All the county’s libraries acted as collection points for 2,500 donated new toys which were then passed on to over 20 local charities and organisations who then got them to families in need to ensure their children got an extra much-needed Christmas gift.”
  • Surrey – Weybridge Library and Weybridge Centre co-locating as part of Hub plans – Elmbridge Council. “there will be a temporary relocation of Weybridge Library into the Weybridge Centre for the Community, while it undergoes a major refurbishment to create the Weybridge Hub, which is expected to open in Spring 2025. “
  • Wakefield – Wordfest 2024: Popular celebration to bring hundreds of free events to Wakefield libraries next month – Wakefield Express. “Hundreds of free and exciting events, from author talks and storytelling, film showings and music, will be held in the district’s libraries and other community settings during the month-long festival celebrating words – which aims to encourage residents of all ages to explore their own creativity. The annual celebration has become a staple within the community, with a full programme that has been developed with community partners and features activities across the district.”