One of the strange things about covering public libraries since 2010 is seeing how things could have gone with more funding. The Library of Birmingham was one such. Opened in the years of coalition government but planned before, this was seen as a big shining symbol of the city and for the future of libraries generally. But the money ran out. Now it is open only 40 hours per week, areas of it hired out and many other libraries in the city under threat of closure. In an alternate world, the Library of Birmingham is a world leader. Not in this one.

Similarly, there is the movement to going fines-free. The arguments for an against are many and are listed here but a report by libraries in New York last week suggested that if was a big success, with an increase in issues, visits and late books being returned. But fining customers creates income, at least in the short-term and if one ignores associated costs (which, to be fair, like staff, may be built-in to some extent) and so cash-strapped English libraries have started not only stalling on going fines-free but also, this week, one service has returned to charging fines again after being fines-free. The reason Havering gives for this is, simply. financial. Sadly, I suspect, the future historian looking for the reason for the decline of public libraries in the UK – as opposed to success stories like New Zealand or Ireland – may give the same reason.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Blue Peter Book Club Live to kick off at Manchester Central Library – Literacy Trust. “Local primary school-aged children can come and join Blue Peter presenters and top authors at the free launch event at Manchester Central Library. They’ll enjoy a fun day of stories, crafts and lots of books. A special Blue Peter Badge Trail will also launch on the day, which will challenge families to discover massive Blue Peter Book Club inspired badges at 12 different venues across the city with an additional bonus badge in the Blue Peter Garden in Salford.”
  • Development of the residents’ protest campaign against the closure of public libraries in the UK – Bulletins of Japan-UK Education / J-Stage. “This study analyses an intensified residents’ campaign against cuts in public library services(library campaign) in Lincolnshire. “

International news

“Libraries are supposed to be a quiet place for learning. However, across the U.S., many libraries have found themselves under siege by crime. Calls coming from libraries are inundating many police departments. According to police records, more than 500 calls were made to police from the San Diego Central Library in the past year. To see for ourselves, Inside Edition spent the day at the library. It was not long before we witnessed cops rushing to the scene of a suspected overdose.”
  • USA – 2024 Library Systems Report – American Libraries. ” a handful of large organizations with considerable resources—Clarivate, EBSCO Information Services, Follett School Solutions, and OCLC—continue to expand their portfolios, covering multiple business sectors and library types. Middle-tier companies, including Axiell, ByWater Solutions, The Library Corporation (TLC), and SirsiDynix, offer growing suites of products used by thousands of libraries. And finally, a group of smaller companies round out the industry, covering specialized libraries with niche products and services.”
    • Adams Hints $58M Funding That Forced Libraries to Close on Sundays Could Be Restored in Near Future – Westside Spirit.
    • City Libraries Eliminated Late Fees Three Years Ago — How Has it Gone? – The City. “In October 2021, the city’s libraries abolished fines on overdue materials and predicted it would unlock hundreds of thousands of people who had their cards blocked. The result two-and-a-half years later has been a resounding success with a spike in materials taken out, library cards issued, and program attendance, according to officials in charge of New York City’s three library systems. ” … “In New York City, patrons returned thousands of long overdue items shortly after the fines were lifted, the New York Times reported in March 2022.”
    • How Ben Franklin Invented the Library as We Know It – Smithsonian. In the next issue, how the Americans invented soccer and fish and chips.
    • Libraries Without Borders: Using Outreach to Build Community – Information Today. “it’s harder for decision makers to say no or be dismissive when they know your face, your name, and something about you as a human being.” … “When your policies take into account the needs of the community, your library is positioned for maximum outreach impact.” … “The modern library is a place and an idea. Consistently engaging in the improvement of people’s lives through community outreach leads to strong libraries that are part of the solution.”
    • Viva La Library – Nautilus. “Rebel against The Algorithm. Get a library card.”

Local news by authority

South Lanarkshire
  • Staffordshire – Perton Library Science Fair & Spring Festival is back – Staffordshire Council. “The event, being organised by Perton Library and Wild About Perton, is packed full of family fun and is part of the celebrations for Green Libraries Month.” … “Dr Phil Jemmett and his team of scientists from Warwick University will be demonstrating experiments all day”
    • Libraries going green to highlight sustainability and environmental issues – Lichfield Live. “Sessions across Staffordshire include exhibitions, author talks, craft workshops and recycling projects. Among the initiatives will be a trial of biodegradable library cards at Shenstone Library.” … “Green Libraries Month is being delivered in partnership with Staffordshire Community Learning, who are offering taster sessions in things such as upcycling, mini-bug hotels, cress caterpillars, kitchen composters and saving money by growing your own veg. “
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries launches daisy chain fundraising campaign – East Anglian Daily Times. “The Make a Difference with a Daisy campaign from Suffolk Libraries is to raise money for the 45 libraries across the county, and projects they run like the period poverty service and warm spaces project.”
    • New base in Lowestoft for East Suffolk’s customer services? – Eastern Daily Press. “East Suffolk Council leaders are set to discuss potentially spending £165,000 to move its customer services from the Marina Centre, in Lowestoft, less than half a mile away to the town’s library.”. Part of plans for new “cultural quarter”.
    • Suffolk Libraries Day book binge is the height of fundraising for Maureen – Diss Express. “Maureen John, who manages Debenham and Stradbroke libraries, read the equivalent of around 18,000 pages, which works out at 5 foot, 2 inches when the books are stacked on top of each other.” She “raised £2,200 for Suffolk Libraries Day last month as a result of the challenge”
    • We welcome our new Environmentalist in Residence – Suffolk Libraries. “During his residency Martin will be working on the development of a project called Seconds of Sound (S.O.S), inviting people to take part in weekly sound walks that connect all 45 of our libraries (plus some of our local prison libraries too).”
  • Wirral – Former library set to become gym – West Kirby. “Plans have been submitted to turn the former Hoylake Library into a gym and wellness centre. The building was closed by Wirral Council in 2022 as part of a series of budget cuts, and a bid by community interest company The Life Tree to turn it into a venue for book clubs and events was rejected as not being viable.”
  • York – Young Reporter: Explore Libraries are turning 10. Sorcha L, Huntington – York Press. “Explore is an important part of York, with the libraries acting as community hubs and education centres, with multiple around the city. Each library is running its own events. “