There have been many different new types of library governance since austerity began in 2010. We’ve seen Leisure Trusts taking over (a mixed picture), private companies (failure), local charities/parish councils taking them over and volunteers (at least 621 and rising, proving surprisingly resilient). A different type of Trust, though, has had – at least from my inexpert eye – been entirely successful. This is the Library-only Trust (Devon’s “Libraries Unlimited”, Suffolk Libraries and “York Explore”) which apparently have been able to combine providing traditional library services with a great deal of innovation, fund-raising, and an ability to stand up for themselves against councils keen on budget cuts. Not having to go through council publicity departments, whose eyes are often elsewhere, they are also very good at raising public awareness.

There are downsides to them of course but then there are – sometimes in spades – with council-run services. Just this week, if you don’t believe me, look at the poor library staff at Dorset, where many are losing their jobs at the moment while the council is trying to downplay the whole thing. Or in Birmingham, with a huge number of libraries are at risk. Or in Buckinghamshire which is looking to get rid of nearly a third of its staff and replace them with (checks notes) automatic doors and keypads. Such cuts have not happened in the Library Trust Three yet. I trust they will at least put up a fight, like York did, if such things are mooted. So, why are there not more? Well, it takes quite a different type of management skill to run one and a council will to give up control. A lack of trust, if you will.

Let me know your views by emailing ianlibrarian at live.co.uk.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Coelho and Becker on their Yoto Carnegie wins – BookSeller. “Coelho’s relationship with libraries goes all the way back to when he was a child himself, visiting the library to discover new books, study for his exams and meet up with friends. He also got his first Saturday job at his local library, and worked at The British Library when he was studying at university. As a writer, Coelho is constantly visiting libraries for festivals and events, most recently as part of the Library Marathon—one of his laureate tenure projects—through which he sought to encourage people to visit their local branch.”
  • Our message to the next government – Libraries Connected. “But public libraries cannot function effectively without adequate funding. This is why we are calling for fundamental reform of local government financing from the incoming UK government. Fair and sustainable local authority funding will enable libraries to fulfil their manifold roles: inspiring lifelong learning, supporting health and wellbeing and enriching our economic and cultural life.”

International news

Dublin – Can you see the 100 books? Scan the QR code too
  • President Higgins condemns “censorship” attempts by far-right groups targeting libraries – Gen. ” those who intimidate library staff and destroy books “hide behind the mask of ‘protester’, but must be called out for what they are: vigilantes attempting to censor, some of whom are committing criminal offences”.” … “In one instance last year, the Cork City library had to close for one day to protect library staff and patrons after a small group of far-right nationalists blocked the entrance with a banner.”
  • The Week in Libraries: June 21, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. “Targeting books in public schools and libraries is purposeful. Create a frenzy over lies and disinformation about the content in libraries and classrooms, then profit by claiming students are being indoctrinated”

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Maxine Peake says libraries are more than just for borrowing books after refurb – Bolton News. “And if they’re trying to cut everything here, it is because they are scared working people will educate themselves. “Because libraries teach us to ask questions, and to explore, so we should be teaching people this.” Maxine called libraries a “safe haven” for people in Bolton.”
  • Bradford – City library reopens after ‘nature’ revamp – BBC. “Manningham Library in Bradford was one of just six in the country to get funding from Natural England for its Culture Nature project, which aimed to turn libraries into “thriving hubs for nature enthusiasts”.” … “Large graphics showing local green areas and parkland have been put up at the library, as well as details of how visitors can best access them. Other improvements included a children’s sensory space, ceiling repairs and meeting equipment, Bradford Council’s library service said.”
Bromley – Empathy Day in Bromley – GLL. “Empathy Day was recently celebrated in Bromley’s libraries with a range of innovative activities to encourage kindness and compassion in young people. The library team would like to encourage libraries in other areas to take part in future.”
  • Bucks Council to replace librarians with self-service machines in cost-cutting measure – Bucks Herald. £555k cut. “The savings plan – dubbed ‘library flex’ – will be introduced at eight county libraries: Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Hazlemere, Marlow and Princes Risborough.” … “The council claims that this will allow it to cut staff hours by 25-30 per cent, while increasing public access by 50 per cent or more. At High Wycombe Library, services will now only be delivered from one floor in a bid to reduce staffing, while at Burnham, the council will try to increase volunteer numbers to save money.”

“As many of you know we will shortly be losing 5 skilled and experienced staff due to redundancies. I would like to thank Jo (Library Manager) Liz (Library Assistant) Penny (Library Assistant) Andrea (relief librarian) and Julia ( relief librarian). Between them they have clocked up nearly 60 years working at Swanage Library, it will be very sad loss to the library and the community.”

Dorset – Swanage Library Friends.
Suffolk – “We’ve launched a new engagement campaign for the summer is designed to encourage more people to get actively involved with their local libraries” See story below.
  • Suffolk – Chantry Library launches children’s story competition to remember a much-loved staff member – Suffolk Libraries. “‘Sally’s Stories’ is a children’s story writing competition being launched to encourage local children to use their imagination and creativity to come up with their own story.”
    • Introducing Move It – Suffolk Libraries. “The equipment you can borrow includes: 4kg and 6kg kettlebells, a dumbbell set, resistance bands, mini pedals, wobble cushion, weighted hula hoop, rounders set and football and cones. Other items such as swing ball, skipping ropes and yoga mats are also available from a previous initiative.”
      • New pop-up library launched in Beck Row, Suffolk – East Anglian Daily Times. “Finance for this new project comes from Section 106 development planning money via Suffolk County Council.” … “”Suffolk Libraries Local pop-up library sessions have been a success elsewhere in the county and enable us to bring a slice of library life to local communities where there is not an existing library branch.”
      • What happens in the library? Please help us to pass the message on – Suffolk Libraries. “Creative workshops for young people, lively singing and storytimes for toddlers, social meet-ups for adults and even free exercise sessions – it’s all going on at Suffolk Libraries! This is the message behind our new campaign to let Suffolk residents know ‘what happens in the library’. We want to get the word out to even more people so they can benefit from our many free services and activities. “
  • West Dunbartonshire – Summer Reading Challenge 2023 [sic] – West Dunbarthonshire Council. Webpage about 2024 challenge has wrong date at top. Non-Reading Agency. ” The West Dunbartonshire Council primary school with the biggest improvement in completion rate from the previous year will receive a beautiful trophy, fabulous books, and a special prize for their school”. Those completing the local challenge will entered into mystery prize draw.
  • Westmorland and Furness – Council responds to library shutting for The Coro events – The Mail. “The Coro has been used as a temporary library space since the building on King’s Road was closed last year due to issues with the electrics during routine statutory checks. On Friday June 7, the library was closed between 11am and 2pm due to an event taking place in the building. The library closed for four days over the May bank holiday due to Printfest taking place in the The Coro.”
  • Wokingham – New library opens in former school building – BBC. “The former Old Polehampton Boys School, in Twyford, Berkshire, has been leased to the council by Polehampton Trust after sitting empty for many years. The library space has high ceilings, large windows, a specially-designed children’s area and an extension which offers an accessible entrance and additional space.”
  • Worcestershire – Worcestershire libraries announce new digital skills learning programme – Evesham Observer. “Worcestershire County Council’s Library Service is excited to announce the launch of the new Learn My Way digital skills learning programme, provided by Good Things Foundation. The programme offers a variety of self-led courses which can be accessed on a mobile, tablet or computer.”