By the look of the opinion polls, Public Libraries News will be reporting, for the first time it its 14 year history, soon on what impact a government without any Conservatives in it is having on public libraries. You already know the impact that the Conservatives have had. What will happen is unclear. Last general election, Labour’s manifesto was full of promises for public services including a likely bonanza for public libraries but it was all kind of moot because Labour stood no chance of being elected. This time around, everyone is more certain of Labour being elected than any other time I can remember in my 53 years, but there is not a single mention of libraries in their manifesto. So it’s unlikely to be a bonanza.

But I will most definitely vote. I read somewhere that a general election is better thought of as voting for a bus and not a marriage partner. You’re not voting for someone who you completely love and want to spend the rest of your life with. You’re voting for the one that gets you nearer to your desired destination. Which is why I will be voting for the party for that will take me closer to what is desired, rather than the one which most agrees with my beliefs (which stands no chance of being elected here). Because we live in a country with the first-past-the-post system and not proportional representation. Any other vote other than the one for a party likely to win is therefore, in this harsh winner-takes-all world, a wasted vote. It may make you feel better and principled and that’s great, do what you will. But for me, 14 years of Conservative Prime Ministers has taught me pragmatism. Public libraries need a vote. And not voting, or voting for someone with no chance of getting in, is not going to help anyone. So vote to make a real difference if you can. And heaven knows, many people think we need that.

Please email any news or comments to ianlibrarian at live co uk. Thank you. As stated elsewhere on this webpage, this website represents my personal opinions and is entirely my own work. It does not represent that of anyone else, including my main employer.

Changes by local authority

National news

“The average public library is not only a provider of the latest Anne Enright or Julia Donaldson: it is now an informal citizens advice bureau, a business development centre, a community centre and a mental health provider. It is an unofficial Sure Start centre, a homelessness shelter, a literacy and foreign language-learning centre, a calm space where tutors can help struggling kids, an asylum support provider, a citizenship and driving theory test centre, and a place to sit still all day and stare at the wall, if that is what you need to do, without anyone expecting you to buy anything … The trouble comes when libraries – and the underpaid, overstretched people who work in them – start to become sole providers for all these things”

  • Libraries are a lifeline that we cannot afford to lose – Guardian / Letters. North Yorkshire Libraries volunteer regrets that library could close without volunteering. Reminiscences and positive thoughts about the library. Folkstone Library has been closed for 18 months as council cannot afford to repair it. “They fill the many gaps left by the state, yet they are constantly under threat of closure.”

International news

  • Gulf – As Gulf countries continue to grow, they need more public libraries – National News / Opinion. “in 2022, the five Gulf countries for which data is available all had less than 0.5 public libraries per 100,000 people, as compared to more than five public libraries per 100,000 in the UK and US.”
  • USA – NYC public libraries have their funding restored, will reopen on Sundays – CNN. $11m. Initial cut due to flat funding and rising costs. Reverse of decision due to public unhappiness.
    • No computers. Keep books. Seattle library network outage nears a month – Seattle Times. “The library and its 27 branches continue to struggle through a ransomware attack that has disabled its networks, rendered its hundreds of public computers useless and turned its normal operations upside down.”
    • The Quiet Crisis Facing U.S. Public Libraries – Publishers Weekly. Written by Tim Coates. “The latest IMLS data show library visits are half what they were a decade ago—where is the response from library leaders?”. Author sure that reduction in books is to blame. “The data suggests that the shrinking gate counts is largely coming from existing users visiting libraries less often, rather than a falling number of people using libraries at all. There is no evidence to suggest that people’s need or desire for libraries has waned.” … ” the U.K. stands as a cautionary tale, where library funding has been slashed by more than 50% [sic – ed.] over the past decade, and a third of the U.K.’s public libraries have now closed.”
    • Urban Public Libraries in the 1980s: Evolving Library Services for an Information Society – Public Library Quarterly. ” As the U.S. shifted from an industrial society of large workplaces linking whole communities toward an “information society” with a more heterogenous workforce divided by educational attainment, urban public library workforces, target audiences, collections, and programming both adapted to and mirrored these changes.”

Local news by authority