Ian Anstice

Public librarian since 1994, user of public libraries since my first memories ... and a keen advocate of public libraries and chronicler of the UK public libraries scene. Library manager since 1998, winner of Information Professional of the Year 2011 and Winsford Customer Service "Oscar" 2012 and 2014, honorary CILIP fellow 2015, CILIP Wales Library Champion of the Year 2016.

Homepage: https://www.publiclibrariesnews.com


Posts by Ian Anstice

Don’t mention it

Editorial

Hmmm. It’s been an odd election. Themes which are extremely important to us all such as Brexit and the Environment have had barely a mention. A party to the right of the Conservatives is having the strongest showing of any such party I can remember in a national election. And the main argument appears to be all about taxation rather than the importance of what the taxes are for.

The Conservatives commit to “continuing to support” libraries and, in the same Manifesto, promise to help volunteers who take them over, presumably if councils unaccountably find for some strange reason they don’t have enough funding for paid staffing any more.

The Labour Manifesto, wait for it, does not mention libraries at all. And nor do the Liberal Democrats or Reform. The Greens say that they will keep libraries “open and thriving”, showing one can always count on the Greens to support libraries – after all, re-use is fundamental to what we do. Groovy news, too, with the Psychedelic Movement party who offer to protect libraries if they get in. Thank goodness for that.

Congratulations to those on the Honours List connected to the public library world. Nick Poole, formally of CILIP, Andrea Ellison (Leeds) and Julie Duffy (Portsmouth). To all three of you I say, it’s OK if you’re ever feeling down to go to wherever you keep the medal and handle it a bit while staring at it fondly. Works better than a stress ball.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Politicians urged to save UK grassroots music venues and libraries, by urgently investing in the arts – Left Foot Forward. “Actor Christopher Eccleston was among the speakers. Addressing an audience at Stockport Central Library on June 13, Eccleston shared his passion for libraries and books and highlighted some of the challenges libraries face, including funding cuts. He noted how Britian needs to proper arts funding system in place like the French and he hoped that there will be more change of getting arts on the agenda with the new government. “As an actor, words are the tools of my trade. When I was growing up in Salford the local library provided a vibrant lifeline to the wider world. Libraries feed people’s interests and passions and provide access leading to connections being forged,” said Eccleston.”
  • Power readers – BookSeller. “Here’s a fun thing to do, download the political manifestos of the leading contenders in the general election, and search for some relevant words, “book”, for example, or “arts”, if you must, or “library”, if you truly want to despair, or “retail”, if you want to go granular. The Conservative manifesto contains three references to books (none relevant to us), one mention of arts (venues), one of libraries, and one tangential reference to retail; the Liberal Democrats have plenty on arts education in schools (good for them), but not a single reference to books, or libraries, or retail. The word “author” is absent from both of them.” [There is no mention of public libraries in the Labour Manifesto – Ed.]
  • Why you might struggle to find this year’s International Booker winner in UK libraries – and why publishing suffers as a result – Conversation. Cataloguing quirk means Kairos may not be as easily found as it should be.

International news

  • USA – Banishing Captain Underpants: An investigation of the 3,400 books pulled in Iowa – USA Today. Iowa. “districts removed nearly 3,400 books and two DVDs to comply with the law, including nearly 1,000 unique titles.” Books include ““To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the Newbery Medal novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot,” 1984 by George Orwell also removed by several library districts. see also The effects House Bill 710 will have on one room libraries in Idaho – KMVT. “House Bill 710 explicitly states that a book that an adult deems inappropriate, has to be relocated to the adults-only section in the library. For one-room libraries, this poses an issue, of whether they will completely take the book out of the library as a whole or change their policies.”

Local news by authority

More than one kind of censorship

Editorial

A fair bit about censorship in the UK this week, although from a different slant to what we are used to from the USA. Over here the articles are from several generally right-wing newspapers, and whatever GB News is, complaining about the ease with which children’s books can be banned. One ban is because of the use of the word “n*****” and the classic Fungus the Bogeyman ban is due to the use of the “g******g”. Both words, to be fair, especially the n* one, that few would push for protection of. The articles are warning that we have library censorship in the UK but it’s more covert than in the USA. And of course another crucial difference is that the censorship is from what is seen as from the left-wing rather than from the right. A similar line of argument is also in an article this week from an ex-school librarian who has resigned due to not wanting to put what she considers overly woke books on the shelves for children. On the other hand, there is the anonymous and unverified source from Hampshire Libraries which says that Pride displays are not being allowed to be publicised due to one complaint. Put together, these complaints suggest that British libraries may not be entirely up the intellectual freedom fight. And that the media will be unforgiving.

Which is unfortunate, because CILIP clearly thinks this is very important. The CILIP ten pledges to the public and the incoming government which “sets out how CILIP, and the profession we represent, will keep libraries and their place in society as a trusted and essential service at the top of the new Government’s agenda”. The relative importance of various items is curious. “Access to culture” is half of the very first pledge, jammed together with the completely different “to deliver trustworthy information”. You’ll be glad to know that reading does get a mention, but at only number four as “the right to read”, again jammed together with the not-the-same-thing “and intellectual freedom”. However, there’s no mention of the word “book” or indeed even “ebook”, presumably because these are seen as the tool and not the use. As a call to arms, as you can probably tell, I think this is somewhat lacking and suggests campaigning-by-committee. But if I see a party leader, or indeed any politician of any level, waving it around then I’ll be glad to be proved wrong.

Changes by local authority

National news

“Take a short break on Saturday afternoon, 15 June, to swap notes with other library supporters and chat to a best-selling author – in London, or online. It’s TLC’s mini-conference and AGM. It’s free, and open to non-members. The venue is Victoria library, 160 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 9TR. It’s close to Victoria Coach Station and a short walk from Victoria station and tube (or take a 170, 185, 211 or C10 bus). Or, of course, just put your feet up at home… Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served from 1.30pm. The meeting starts at 2pm. 

We’re delighted to have as our guest Louise Candlish, best-selling writer of psychological thrillers – now shortlisted for this year’s Dagger in the Library award from the Crime Writers’ Association (pic below.) We already know her as a supporter of libraries, who will have insightful answers to your questions. We’ll then move on to discussing your concerns, and what The Library Campaign is up to, with a short AGM, finishing at 3.30pm. (We have vacancies for trustees. If you want to know more, contact us at thelibrarycampaign@gmail.com). Please register here – if you plan to attend online you must do so to receive the link.”

Email from the Library Campaign
  • Are little libraries doomed to be filled with rubbish books? An argument with myself – The Spinoff. “Why does it feel so sacrilegious to throw away a book? And do the little free libraries that dot our suburbs primarily exist to assuage our guilt? ” … “Big public libraries are more pleasant to visit, have a bigger selection of books that people actually want to read, provide heaps of services to the community. And get this: they’re also free.”
  • Fungus the Bogeyman and a Jules Verne classic are among the books banned from libraries after a single complaint – LBC. “More than a dozen books have been removed after members of the public complained about their content or because librarians deemed the books offensive. They include Briggs’s Fungus the Bogeyman, McKee’s Three Monsters, Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, Chris Claremont’s The Uncanny X-Men and Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift series. Louise Cooke, emeritus professor of information and knowledge management at Loughborough University, said the increasing tendency to remove anything that could offend someone is “massively” dangerous.” … “Jo Cornish, interim chief executive of CILIP, said: “Our general view as a profession is that it’s better for the reader to have access to material, not proscribed by law, than it be banned.” article also covered in multiple other titles – GB News; Daily Mail; Daily Express; Times.
  • How libraries changed from local sanctuaries to antisocial behaviour hotspots – Telegraph. “Colchester Library is just one of the latest reading idylls to be affected, with incidents including fires and physical assault” Good look at library, with lots of people saying how well they use it but main focus is on the bad behaviour of kids these days.
  • Incoming ministers ‘will face UK public services on brink of collapse’ – Guardian. “The IfG said it was not plausible for the victorious party on 4 July to stick to current spending plans at a time when the performance of hospitals was arguably the worst in the history of the NHS, prisons were at crisis point, and councils were shutting libraries and cutting back on waste collection and social care.”
  • Libraries Connected Awards 2024 winners revealed – Libraries Connected. “he winners were chosen by an expert panel including Lesley Parr, the award-winning author of children’s historical fiction. Parr was joined by judges from organisations including Arts Council England, The Reading Agency, the Queen’s Reading Room, the Guardian Foundation and digital book platform OverDrive, creator of the Libby reading app for libraries and Sora reading app for schools, which again generously sponsored the Awards. Celebrated crime writer Ann Cleeves – creator of the Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn series – was chosen as recipient of the inaugural Public Library Champion award.”
  • New Libraries Connected President Ed Jewell sets out his agenda – Libraries Connected. “Our communities need free, well-funded, properly staffed and dynamic public libraries if they in turn are to constructively engage with the challenges ahead; be that in dealing with immediate issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, mental health and educational attainment, or developing challenges, such as the advent of AI, climate change and the changing nature and make-up of those very communities. ” … “I want to ensure our funders and key stakeholders fully appreciate the potential that properly funded public library services can achieve. That libraries are natural partners within local authorities to work with, to deliver programmes that achieve broad educational, health and cultural ambition”
  • Trust Libraries: 10 Pledges for libraries to a new Government – CILIP. Pledges are (1) Information and Culture (2) inform better decisions in government (3) Warm and welcoming spaces (4) Reading and intellectual freedom (5) learning (6) imagination (7) green (8) business (9) research and innovation and (10) ethical.
  • We Make Music Instrument Libraries – North Edinburgh News. “Scotland’s flagship Tinderbox Orchestra announces Live in Libraries UK & Ireland Tour to spread a campaign that gets musical instruments into public libraries so people can borrow them for free, just like borrowing a book”
  • Why I quit as a school librarian Progressive activism is now considered the norm – UnHerd. “I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I decided to quit my post as an assistant librarian at a private school, but it was most probably when Andersen Press defended its decision to publish a book intended for under-sevens that contained illustrations of men in fetish gear.”

International news

Local news by authority

“All staff had to apply for their own or another job. They had to fill in a long, detailed application and then be interviewed … There are 40 (!) vacancies altogether on Dorset Council Jobs website for Libraries Customer Adviser posts, full time and part time.  The new hours are to start 1st July – but [they’re] obviously never going to get new people in post by then are they?  Getting rid of casual staff but trying to keep them on whilst short staffed – and then not use them again … So it looks like staff decided they didn’t want to jump through the hoops of applying.”

Email received anonymously from Dorset
  • Dudley – Dudley libraries to host authors at first writer’s festival – Halesowen News. “Running from June 8 to 22, the new book festival will feature crime and thriller authors Lindsey Davis, Priscilla Masters, Natalie Marlow, Caz Frear and Angela Marsons; family saga authors Annie Murray and Joanna Toye; romance writers Miranda Dickinson, Sally Jenkins and Suzan Holder and fiction writer Mike Gayle among others.”
  • East Riding – Get set to go Live ‘n Loud in local libraries – Bridlington Echo. “The festival runs from Monday 22 July until Saturday 31 August and includes a varied and exciting programme – featuring live music, forensics, activities, author visits and much more. “. Funded through Arts Council England.
  • Guernsey – Woman recognised for improving library accessibility – BBC. “Jackie Burgess, the community and wellbeing lead at Guille-Alles Library in Guernsey, was named first runner up in the Vision and Print Impaired People’s category at the Libraries Connected awards.” … “Mrs Burgess has been recognised for spearheading the library’s Stories on USB service, which provides blind and visually impaired islanders with free audiobooks”

Hampshire Libraries have instructed staff not to post any pride displays on social media, and a planned pride month promotion of books for teens has been removed from Borrowbox. Staff are disappointed, but cannot speak out publicly, both because they’ve been told the pre-election period applies. if you look at Hampshire Libraries Branches social media you can see the lack of posting, and look at Borrowbox to see there are no pride bookshelves”

Hampshire – anonymous email

Pre-election period

Editorial

Public libraries were clearly not a major focus for electioneering this week, without a single article spotted. CILIP is hoping that this will change and we can hope, although of course currently employed library staff would get into potential hot water if they were political in their jobs at this time. Certainly, wherever cuts are announced, such as in Nottingham, people mobilise but they do so in an ad hoc fashion and not in any meaningful national way. Speaking of that city, it’s sad to see that one of the proposals is to cut the opening hours of the new Nottingham Central Library, which has only been open for a few months. This is reminiscent of the cuts in hours to the mega-expensive Library of Birmingham a decade ago, under the same government. Other than that, it’s fairly quiet out there, as perhaps one would expect in a pre-election period where councils scramble to remove anything political from their schedule.

I would recommend. though, a couple of happier stories this week: first, watch the amazing pianist who walked in with this builder team into Edmonton Library in Canada. It’s good for the soul. Then have a read of the poor (fool-hardy?) reporter who got locked in a Scottish library at the start of the bank holiday and was only saved from an undignified escape through a window due to the timely arrival of a cleaner. Having people stuck in closed libraries is a recurrent nightmare of many staff who have a to look up the building at the end of the day so it’s interesting to read about it from the other side’s point of view.

Changes by local authority

National news

International news

  • Finland – Better late than never! Book borrowed in 1939 returned to Finnish library after 84 years – Yahoo. Finnish librarian says ““Our purpose is not to guard the books, we are here to promote reading and enable access to books and knowledge to everyone. The library is a very humane place, and people in Finland use the libraries a lot and understand how they work. Library books belong to all of us and late returns are not a big problem.””
  • Spain – Spanish design duo reveal secrets behind award-winning Barcelona library – Euro News. Gabriel Garcia Marquez Library. “From the outside it looks like a huge, white stack of books and that is precisely the idea at the self-styled ‘Cathedral of books.’ Inside, the red spruce finish throughout gives it a clean, airy, feel which helps make it seem like a pleasant place to enjoy books.” … “People spend a lot of time in the library. They don’t just come in and get a book. They feel more comfortable here than at home,” Elena said. “That is the real idea of the palace of the people,” Guillermo added.”

Local news by authority

National election called: public librarians know which way they will be voting

Editorial

So, an election has been called. The British public can now decide on who they think is best to govern them. On hearing the news, I immediately ran a poll to see which political party the nice people on Twitter who follow me think should win. The result wasn’t really open to interpretation. I could be wrong but I think a 87.3% vote for Labour would mean they take government. Out of 142 votes, the Conservatives and Lib Dems tied on five or six votes each, with Reform getting none. Twitter polls only allow four options so I went with the biggest polling parties but responses suggest that the Greens would have got a good showing if they had been included. Clearly, not many Reform voters – shocker – follow me, as they received zero votes.

Last week’s editorial suggested the Single Digital Presence / LibraryOn received £3m of budget in the last three years. I have been contacted since then with more accurate figures. The project actually received £3.4m of funding but £1.54m was for direct grants to library services. I was heartened to be told in the same email that ACE and the DCMS have not lost their ambition for a single library card but, considering there are 153 very independent councils and the move would be voluntary then the challenge will be considerable. If not impossible. Perhaps a new Labour Government could do better, however much of a hard act to follow this – checks notes from Conservative Central Office – uber-competent, stable and well-loved Conservative Government will be.

Changes by authority

National news

Hi, I’m Maddie, a Masters student researching green libraries and environmental education and am looking for public librarians to interview. If you’re interested in participating or want more details, please contact me at 22560062@stu.mmu.ac.uk Thank you

Email received
  • Public Libraries as Social Innovators – Public Library Quality. “This reflects a change in service logic, moving away from the mobilization of technical capabilities in a low interactivity context and toward the mobilization of human capabilities in a high interactivity context. Public libraries now stand as social innovators in that their activities modify interaction patterns among individuals.”
Britain’s Got Talent : “Robert Statham gives an unexpectedly brilliant book-themed rap for the Judges, and even Alesha can’t resist singing along.”. Includes a “book drop” at the end.

International news

Palestine
  • USA – Donnelly Public Library will become adults-only to comply with new ‘library porn’ law – Boise State Public Radio. “Donnelly Public Library will no longer allow anyone under 18 to visit unless accompanied by a parent starting July 1. That’s due to the implementation of House Bill 710 passed earlier this year, which requires all libraries – both public and private – to relocate a book to an adults-only section within 60 days of receiving a written complaint. If the library declines to do so, it could face a civil lawsuit under the law. That comes with a mandatory $250 fine for the library and plaintiffs could receive uncapped damages. “Our size prohibits us from separating our ‘grown up’ books to be out of the accessible range of children,” the library’s statement reads, noting it’s only 1,024 square feet.”
    • Jodi Picoult: ‘It’s not a badge of honour to be banned’ – BBC. “Picoult said her books My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes were affected by the bans.” … “She said the reason Nineteen Minutes, which is about a US school shooting, was banned, was not because of the shooting scenes: “They have no problem with that. The problem is that on page 313, I use the term ‘erection’.””
    • Librarians: Watch authoritarians in action – Coeur d’Alene Press / Post Falls. Idaho. “Is it OK for library trustees to freely impose their wills while they discount citizen, expert or staff views? Is it really OK if our community belongs only to some of us now?”
Julia Lysiuk calls herself a ‘wandering librarian’, because her permanent library building is under Russian occupation.
  • Making Democracy Work: How local libraries work toward sustainability – TBR Newsmedia. Some libraries “offer a wide range of talks, activities, and displays to answer patrons’ questions or broaden their expertise. Some sponsor “carbon crews,” which are small groups of residents working toward reducing their carbon footprints with support from a leader and other members. Some have started “repair cafes” where patrons can get help from other patrons to fix items they want to keep using.”
    • Not your childhood library – New Yorker. “An ambitious experiment in Minneapolis is changing the way librarians work with their homeless patrons and challenging how we share public space.”. Gives away free clothing . “The police regularly clear the city’s streets of encampments, but officers don’t run unhoused people out of Central. As long as they follow the rules, any patron—and everyone at the library is called a patron—can stay all day, every day.”

Local news by authority

Welsh libraries are aiming to have real presence

Editorial

The move by Wales towards the ambition of having one library card to be able to be used in all library services in the nation is highly laudable. Public libraries should be about reducing barriers to access and this is an obvious one – you’d need 22 library cards at the moment to get the full Welsh set. And some of these services would be big enough to justify a mere single library in a lot of England: Merthyr Tydfil has a population of 43,000, Caerphilly 41,000. But the nation as a whole has a bigger population than that of all of Greater Manchester. So it’s great to see the Welsh Government is providing £1m towards that goal. If scaled up to England’s population, this would be a very respectable £18m. Which would be six times more than the last three years of funding for the English Single Digital Presence, which has now lost its never-fully-believable ambition to be single and becoming “LibraryOn”.

There are considerable challenges, as Orkney have found (currently actively asking people to stay away) or Bournemouth Christchurch Poole just this week. But it’s do-able. Various English library consortia of library services have shown this. But perhaps the biggest challenge is in terms of scale – it’s 18 times harder in England – which would need considerable funding in library terms. But this would bet tiny in national terms. The Rwanda scheme alone has cost £240m until the end of last year. Crucially, though, it would need a strong directing hand and interest. Which the current English situation is distinctly lacking.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brought to book: Library cash plea amid ‘brutal cuts’ to budgets – Scottish Sun. Labour criticises SNP policy. “The party’s analysis indicates the number of facilities dropped from 627 in 2009/2010 to 538 in 2022/2023. Its culture spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “Years of brutal cuts to council budgets have devastated communities, causing the closure of one in seven libraries and threatened the future of more.”
  • Greater Manchester Festival of Libraries 2024 – University of Manchester. “From June 12-16 2024, Greater Manchester will once again celebrate the Manchester City of Literature Festival of Libraries – which promises a rich tapestry of vibrant events for all ages and interests”. See also main webpage.
  • How are libraries adapting to the rapid advancements in AI technology? – Cryptopolitan. “Libraries are a place where artificial intelligence can have a greater positive impact. AI can reduce librarians’ workload so that they can focus on community engagement. Virtual presence is becoming an essential part of library culture.” … “The librarian’s role is important in keeping everyone on board. AI can be used as a tool, but it can never be a replacement.”
  • Library Campaign mini-conference and AGM – The Library Campaign. Saturday 15 June, London or online. “Author Louise Candlish will talk about her books, and why libraries matter.”
  • The Reading Agency launches Reading Well for Dementia collection – Bookseller. “The Reading Agency is launching a curated list of books, Reading Well for Dementia, at libraries across England and Wales to help those affected by the condition. The series, dubbed by the charity as a “curated collection of books and resources designed to… support the health and wellbeing of those affected by the condition”, launches, in partnership with public libraries during Dementia Action Week”

Welsh libraries receive almost £1m for new shared digital platform – South Wales Argus. Welsh Government funded. “the digital library will allow people to share their resources with other libraries.” and “pave the way” for a single Welsh library card. [If sized up to England’s population, this would be £18m – LibraryOn, the closest English comparator, receive £3m – Ed.] see also Welsh libraries to get new digital platform – UK Authority. SirsiDynix, project led by Gwynedd.

International news

  • Global – Are librarians non-playable characters? – IFLA. There is “a sense that librarians do not have any agency”. Librarians are controlled by others, e.g. councils or universities, and so are not independent. This gives a sense of powerlessness. “we need to be ready to challenge, both when we see fatalism and passivity in our own attitudes, but also when we see others discount libraries and what they bring to the table.”
  • Australia – Cumberland Council’s book ban has been overturned, but what is really happening in Australian libraries? – Conversation. “The change was short-lived. People fought back. More than 40,000 signed a petition to lift the ban. Only two weeks later, the Council reversed its decision, voting decisively (13-2), following impassioned pleas by residents, and with many people protesting on the streets.”. Bans “are also part of a wider reactionary movement” … “As the outcry over the short-lived Cumberland City Council ban shows, everyday Australians value libraries and the information they provide to their communities. Public support is needed to defend against future attacks and to send a message to governments that banning books is not acceptable.”
  • How are N.Y. libraries adapting to people’s needs? – Spectrum Local News. New teen areas, social workers.
  • Ivanka Trump’s Tweet About Libraries Is Getting Trolled By Librarians. Here’s Why – Fortune. Ivanka “tweeted a recognition of the work libraries and librarians do around the country, but some librarians didn’t appreciate her support. That’s because her father, President Donald Trump, released a budget proposal earlier this year that, if passed, would cut federal funds for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency that provides the main source of federal support for the country’s libraries museums. Library organizations used Trump’s tweet to disparage her father’s budget blueprint”

Local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Comics Plus eComics – Cornwall Council. “Access a collection of over 19,000 titles. Work is available from publishers like Disney, Dark Horse, IDW and more.”
  • Edinburgh – Council to scrap library fines permanently – Edinburgh Reporter. “Overdue book fines are to be permanently scrapped by Edinburgh libraries – as the council prepares to write off almost £50,000 owed by library users. Since the pandemic no overdue fines have been issued in the capital, and now the local authority will join a growing number across Scotland to completely do away with them. Council officers said the charges are “increasingly viewed as being out of step with a modern, accessible, and welcoming service” and the move could result in increased use of a more “equal” service and help tackle poverty.”
  • Fury at cuts to library opening hours – Edinburgh Reporter. “Officers were accused of putting elected members in a “very difficult position” and acting “dangerously” by seeking approval for a consultation on changes to library service times against their expressed wish. Council officers say the library estate could be “maximised” by “redistributing” operational hours across the city – closing some branches earlier and others later. All options currently on the table, set out in a report, would result in “an overall net increase to opening hours across the city” and save the cash-strapped authority between £70,000 and £225,000 a year. However as councillors agreed to review the library service to develop a new “strategy and vision” in December, they agreed it should not lead to any being closed or having their opening hours reduced.”
  • Essex – Library booking charge paused thanks to avid-reader – BBC. “the councillor responsible for libraries said he would “not proceed” with the proposal “in its current form” after being told about an avid reader in Holland-on-Sea. Mark Durham told a full council meeting that she reserved and borrowed about 20 books every fortnight and returned each one “diligently”. “I, therefore, came to the conclusion that rather than unfairly disadvantage this lady and others like her,”
  • Gateshead – New look Pelaw Library now open – Gateshead Council. “This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.”
  • Hampshire – Helping new parents and their babies to flourish at Hampshire libraries – Hampshire Council. ” free weekly event at selected libraries across the county, specifically for parents and carers with newborns.” … “New Parents Meet and Connect is one of two pilot health schemes being delivered through the Library Service that aim to support new families. The second, called First Words Together, supports babies – from birth up to their second birthday – with speech, language and communication development.”
  • Havering – East London borough plans to axe nearly half their libraries to save £300,000 – Evening Standard. “The council has also proposed slashing their budgets to buy new stock by a one-off reduction of £161,000 (around 61%), and then decreasing it by a further £60,000 over the next two years. By retaining just six centres – which see more than 80% of visits per year, according to council data – the authority hopes to put the extra £300,000 towards a more balanced budget.”

Do you feel more Irish than Australian?

Editorial

The big news for me this week was the spreading of the idea that councils can decide what books libraries should have on their shelves to that normal paragon of library-ness, Australia. In descriptions that sound almost identical to similar debates in the USA, one said it was a matter of following their religion. Meanwhile, in Ireland, such challenges are being met with a strengthening in the power of libraries in being able to oppose those who wish to direct what others are allowed to see and read. There’s been no such strong challenge in the UK as yet to that common in the USA and now in Australia. When there is, we’ll see if we are non-geographically closer to the USA or Ireland.

Some things happen over time so slowly that one does not notice them happening until years afterwards. I had one of these “oh” moments a while ago when thinking about children’s fiction and non-fiction sections and then adult non-fiction sections. The realisation was that, actually, there’s no hard difference between them now in terms of why they’re used. If one can get the answer to most factual questions by speaking a question to one’s watch, as one of my daughters does, there’s no need for a Library of Alexandria type approach to non-fiction sections. What this means in practice is that the purpose of most non-fiction books, child and adult, are essentially leisure now. And, scarily, that means that all of the books in a library are essentially for leisure purposed. That’s not to say they’re not important, due to their power in health and welfare, literacy, awareness etc. But it does mean that those staff who want one of everything are missing the point. For that, see the internet. For the library, see the stuff people actually want to read. And that is overwhelmingly the fun stuff, one way or another.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brought to book: Library cash plea amid ‘brutal cuts’ to budgets – Scottish Sun. Scottish Labour says “Years of brutal cuts to council budgets have devastated communities, causing the closure of one in seven libraries and threatened the future of more.” … ““The SNP must give a cast-iron guarantee it will not inflict more cuts on these vital services by reducing the Public Library Improvement Fund.”” … “Investment fell from £135million to £92million in ten years.”

“Our local volunteer-run library has recently reopened after being unceremoniously dumped by the local council as a cost-saving measure: a common occurrence as I understand it. We took over the original building, which was a small branch library (and I mean small!). Again, like so many similar enterprises, refurbishment has been protracted but we now have a popular, pleasant space which is also destined to become a small community hub. So, we have a staff toilet downstairs, but in no way shape nor form is this accessible by anyone but an able-bodied person. Building costs and lack of space mean that we can’t afford to get a loo installed on the ground floor and the downstairs loo is unlikely to change. I don’t think this problem is widely discussed(?) but I’d appreciate any other readers’ experiences and hopefully solutions to this tricky problem! Can you help? “

“Captain Bogbrush”
  • How rental ‘libraries of things’ have become the new way to save money – Guardian. “Clothes rental for children is one of the latest chapters in how “libraries of things” are becoming an increasingly common way to save money, space and waste. The theory is simple: instead of buying a household item or a piece of clothing or some equipment you might use once or twice, you take it out and return it.”

“Libraries Change Lives, 24-28 June 2024 – building on a proposal from Baroness Sanderson’s review of public libraries this will be a week of advocacy demonstrating the value of libraries ahead of this year’s General Election.

Green Libraries Week, 7-13 October 2024 – our annual celebration of libraries with a focus on the climate and sustainability.”

CILIP explains the about the two Weeks
  • TikTok bookshelves to open across UK to get young people reading – Independent. “TikTok is teaming up with the National Literacy Trust (NLT) to place “BookTok Bookshelves” in 11 UK areas that need a boost in literacy levels. Cities like Birmingham, Blackpool, Bradford, Doncaster, Manchester, Middlesborough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Peterborough, Stoke and Swindon will get 20 BookTok Bookshelves starting with around 100 books each. The shelves will be placed in areas which see a lot of children over 13, like youth clubs and community centres.”

International news

  • Australia – I’m no stranger to having work banned. If you want to protect kids, this is not the way to do it – Guardian / Opinion. ” I know a book ban is not something we can simply spin as good publicity. These bans come from a rightwing playbook designed to continue a culture war against LGBTQ+ people that chips away at fundamental human rights protections in policies. These attempted bans – whether they are upheld or not – do real world harm to members of my community.”
    • Labor councillor stands by vote to ban same-sex parenting books in Sydney council libraries – as it happened – Guardian. “This decision was made in line with my religious beliefs and I will not be comprising those beliefs.”
    • Rainbow Street Libraries Launch in The Face of Book Ban – Star Observer. “Following the recent decision by Cumberland City Council to remove books about same sex parenting in local libraries, local organisation Street Library Australia have launched a colourful campaign against the book ban.” … “The group took to their facebook page to offer free local libraries to residents in the area, on the proviso they paint them rainbow in support of the issue.”
    • Sydney council bans same-sex parenting books from libraries – video – Guardian. “Western Sydney’s Cumberland city council has voted to place a blanket ban on same-sex parenting books from local libraries in a move the New South Wales government warns could be a breach of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The amendment, put forward by a councillor, Steve Christou, proposed that the council take “immediate action” to remove same-sex parents books and materials in its library service. Six councillors voted in favour of the amendment and five voted against, while four councillors were not present to vote”
  • India – Beyond shelves, binding selves – Times of India. A look at public libraries in the country.
  • Ireland – Dublin City Council condemns recent anti-LGBTQ+ library protests – GCN. “Following the recent spate of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations and actions targeted at Irish libraries, Dublin City Councillors have passed a motion condemning the attacks and have endorsed their faith in the Library Management” … “the Dublin City Libraries’ management has confirmed that no publications have been removed as a result of the protests.”
  • Italy – Public libraries as social infrastructures: libraries’ response to the COVID crisis in the Emilia-Romagna region – Cultural Trends.
  • USA – John Oliver on public libraries: ‘Another front in the ongoing culture war’ – Guardian. “You do get the sense that people who want to censor these books can have no real idea of what’s inside them or, indeed, if they’re even at the libraries they’re protesting at all,” Oliver said, citing a case in Idaho where activists demanded that more 400 books be removed from the library, even though it already didn’t have them. “As far as protests go, that’s about as meaningful as marching to the Hollywood sign to demand that Frankie Muniz return his Oscar for Schindler’s List,” he joked. “He’s not there, he wasn’t in that, and the very fact that you’re protesting this tells me you’re probably not familiar with the material.”
    • SNF Dialogues Recap – Beyond Books: How Libraries Can Serve the Publ”ic – National Herald. “he first SNF Dialogues discussion in the US explored the multifaceted role of libraries as cornerstones of democratic societies, and how they transcend their traditional role as repositories of books to actively facilitate community participation and advance civic engagement.” … “They are community centers, safe havens during crises, bastions of knowledge and equality, and shining examples of democracy, especially in uncertain times”
    • The Week in Libraries: May 10, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. Legal action in defence of library rights in Alabama.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Portsoy and Whitehills communities asked to help shape future provision of local library services – Aberdeenshire Council.
  • Birmingham – Umbrella group launched in Birmingham to help save city’s libraries – Planet Radio. “Local campaigners are urging others to have their say in the council’s public consultation to save as many as possible. Acocks Green campaigner Joe Simpson’s told us they’re making good progress so far and that locals should use it as incentive to keep fighting.”
    • Hundreds gather to protest against council cuts – BBC. “”What we’re seeing today is the people of Birmingham people coming together to protest about the council cuts that have been forced upon Birmingham City Council by austerity that’s been implemented through government cuts to council funding,” “
  • Bournemouth Christchurch Poole – Residents asked about future of libraries – Bournemouth Echo. “BCP Council wants to know how you currently use the library service and what you hope to see in the future.Library open hours have been slashed by an average of 10 hours per library each week, as part of cost-saving measures for its 2024/25 budget.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Twyford Library announces opening of new location next month – Bracknell News. “The new library will open in the newly refurbished Old Polehampton Boys School on the opposite side of the close. The beautiful new space will benefit from improved library spaces with high ceilings and large windows letting in natural light.” Open 21 hours per week.
  • Bromley – Orpington Literary Festival 2024 – Orpington 1st. “A week of town centre events celebrating the written and spoken word, brought to you by Orpington 1st in partnership with Bromley Libraries, supported by Orpington Rotary.” … ““We’re really pleased to work with Orpington’s business community for this year’s literary festival. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of literature and the vital role which libraries play in our community.”
  • Cheshire East – Fears Bollington Library could be shut down within months – Macclesfield Nub News. “The recently-formed Friends of Bollington Library Committee claims that Cheshire East Council is planning to consult the public on proposals to close Bollington Library with effect from January 1 2025.”
  • Devon – Beach toy plea for seafront libraries – Mid Devon Advertiser. “Teignbridge Leisure is looking for donations of unwanted buckets, spades, balls and beach toys to fill its seafront libraries in Teignmouth and at Dawlish Warren.”
  • Falkirk – Falkirk Council libraries branch out with new garden lending initiative – Falkirk Herald. “Gardening bags can now be borrowed from all eight libraries across the area and are designed to equip budding gardeners with th -e tools and knowledge to cultivate fresh, home grown fruit and vegetables.” … “Each bag contain hand tools, gardening books and kneeling mat, as well as seeds, plant markers and growing advice cards and recipe cards so people can start cooking with what they have grown.” Due to  £8300 from The Europe Challenge Fund.
  • Hampshire – Blood pressure monitors now available from Hampshire libraries – Hampshire Council. “Each monitor is borrowed on a ‘first come-first served’ basis. It comes in a box, with a leaflet containing easy-to-follow instructions on how to use the device and understand the results, as well as what to do if you are concerned about the readings. “
  • Haringey – Haringey Council’s Head of Libraries, Brian Mihayo, receives nationwide Top Talent recognition – Haringey Council. ” Brian helped secure trust and foundation funding for a major project supporting young people to design and organise diverse cultural events and innovative programmes across Haringey libraries, including concerts, comedy nights and spoken word performances.”
  • Havering – Havering launches new library strategy – Havering Council. “The library strategy consultation, which will run for 12 weeks until 2 August 2024, comes at a difficult time for the borough. The Council continues to face financial challenges while delivering our legal duty to provide services for the most vulnerable along with the services residents say they value most.” – £300k cut. Five libraries to close: Collier Row, Elm Park, Gidea Park, Harold Wood an South Hornchurch.
  • Manchester – The Enlightenment – Simon Armitage lyric shines a light on libraries for Manchester’s Festival of Libraries – About Manchester. “The track has been specially commissioned for Festival of Libraries 2024, with words by poet laureate Simon Armitage, music by Richard Walters and Patrick Pearson, and guest vocals from Josephine Oniyama. The Enlightenment will be released on streaming platforms on Friday 7 June and will be performed live for the first time at Manchester Central Library as part of the festival on Wednesday 12 June (doors open at 7.30pm)”
    • Blue Peter Book Club live takes off in Manchester Central Library – Manchester Council. “Blue Peter, the BBC’s iconic children’s TV series is partnering with Manchester Libraries and The Reading Agency on an exciting new project – Blue Peter Book Club Live. It launches in Manchester Central Library on Saturday 18 May with a fun-filled, free event, open to all and the chance to meet Blue Peter presenters Abby, Joel, and Shini along with Henry the Blue Peter Dog. ” … “A book inspired art-installation created by 10,000 local school children, creative crafts, special story times, masses of books and a chance to meet some magical classic book characters will make it a day of adventure and fun where classic stories come to life in the library.”
  • Norfolk – Plans for new library and bus station in Hunstanton – EDP. “Norfolk County Council has finalised plans to redevelop the former library and revamp the bus station at Hunstanton and hopes to start work later this year.”
  • Somerset – Could you volunteer to help the Home Library Service? – Somerset Council. “olunteers are needed across Somerset to help keep a vital Somerset Council library lifeline thriving.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Award-winning authors back protests to save libraries in Cambuslang, Halfway and Blantyre – Daily Record. “Just under 40 authors and literary figures have shown their support for the Save Our Libraries protest taking place this week.” … “Author of Fallen Angel, Chris Brookmyre, added: “We all appreciate that in these difficult times, difficult choices must be made but, in my opinion, libraries should always be among the last things a council cuts when it needs to save money.”
  • Southend on Sea – Pub-goers see ‘light’ – and save burning library – BBC. “At about 21:00 BST on Tuesday, drinkers at a table in The Old Walnut Tree, Southend-on-Sea, noticed a ‘light’ inside Southchurch Library. They realised it was on fire. With the help of pub staff they filled “large containers” with water, dashed over, and poured it through a broken window.””
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries Board member takes on tandem skydive – Suffolk Libraries. See Just Giving page..
  • Wirral – Gym sorry over library bench ‘alcoholics’ claim – BBC. “A firm which wants to turn an ex-library into a gym has apologised over comments suggesting a bench outside is “popular with local alcoholics” and should be removed. Nomad wants to convert the former council building in Hoylake, Wirral. A document lodged with Wirral Council said the use of the bench by “alcoholics” jarred with its brand.”
  • Worcestershire – Dementia in Focus at Worcestershire Libraries – Worcestershire Council. ” Library Service is teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, and The University of Worcester for Dementia Action Week, taking place from 13th May to 19th May.” Reading Well books. “Groups include Classic Film Club, Reminiscence Groups, Knit and Natter, Hook Buddies, and Scrabble, all of which offer engaging activities beneficial for individuals with dementia.”
    • Libraries Unlocked to be introduced at Malvern Library – Worcester News. Once the system is up and running, library members aged 15 and above will have the chance to upgrade their membership.They will then be able to use the library facilities outside the regular hours of operation”
  • York – ‘It’s a safe space, welcoming and free’ – York’s unique library service celebrates ten years – York Mix. “Explore York Library and Archives is marking a whole decade of providing the community of York with a public library and archive service with a series of family-friendly fundraising activities and events.” … “There is currently no further comment on the contractual dispute” between Explore and York Council over proposes budget cut.

The reason for it

Editorial

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

Halton
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. “

Irish Libraries Are Smiling

Editorial

A few news pieces catch my eye today. The first is an ex-magistrate sating in the Mail – where else – that libraries could be turned into court venues as they are under-used public buildings. Words fail me sometimes. Sadly, they don’t fail the Mail. Then we have the normal US madness of censorship, with 17 states now considering imprisoning librarians for their stock choices. There’s also a heart-rending story from that torn country about a child, are regular visitor to a library, whose parents decided to play the story-time song at the funeral. Oh my.

The thing that really caught my eye though was news from Ireland. The government there is spending – get this – £21 million to provide 11 new libraries and 12 new mobiles in rural areas. That’s twice as much as the Libraries Improvement Fund right there. But then scale that up to take into account the relative populations and you’d have, if it happened in the UK, £210 million in capital expenditure with 110 new libraries and 120 new mobiles. Then lift your jaw off the floor. Ireland led the way a few years ago in national publicity and national initiatives like removing all fines and now it is apparently reaping the benefits.

National news

International news

“Founded in 1905 under segregation, Louisville’s Western Library helped lay the foundation of Black librarianship in the U.S. The oldest library in the U.S. run independently by and for African Americans, Western was also the earliest training ground of Black librarians from around the South.”
  • USA – 17 States Are Considering Laws That Would Imprison Librarians – Vanity Fair. “Ron DeSantis has been forced to limit certain Floridians to only one book-banning attempt per month.”
    • Beloved Bunny’s Death Shows How Libraries Help Parents – Ms Magazine. “rather than forcing children to think a certain way, libraries help us find our words in life’s most challenging moments.”. When a child passed away who was a regular attender at story-time, ““They sang the goodbye song from story-time” at the funeral.
    • Does The Future of Libraries – or Narrative Itself – Include Books? – Indiana Public Media. Podcast. Book issues down. Non-fiction section “irrelevant” in age of the internet. More library events. “more librarians now have a performance mindset”. People are still reading but doing it digitally. Libraries “are for bringing people together in a free and open space”.
    • It’s Time to Take a Hard Look at Public Libraries – Cato. “Like local post offices, neighborhood libraries once served an important community function but are now becoming increasingly irrelevant. And, as with post offices, libraries continue to receive funding because they enjoy support from a relatively small but vocal segment of the population, while the rest of us are usually too reluctant to question their utility.”
    • The Week in Libraries: April 26, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. “a deadline looms for federal library funding; the FCC votes to restore net neutrality rules; Maryland passes a law designed to discourage book bans; and why Alabama librarians are feeling exhausted”

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – Book festival attracts more than 3,000 visitors – Rotherham Advertiser. “saw locals enjoy a packed schedule including 49 library and six partner events and 42 authors and artists.”
  • Birmingham – Future of Birmingham’s libraries sparks row as campaigners pledge action – Express and Star. “Asked why steps were not taken to notify ward councillors and communities in good time of the consultation programme, cabinet member Saima Suleman responded: “There were some online consultations that were registered last week which I believe councillors were not informed of.” … ” in Hall Green, residents gathered once again on Saturday for a ‘read-in’ at the local library – following similar events elsewhere in the city. The demonstration was attended by over 100 people, spanning all ages and backgrounds, as well as authors and renowned woodcarver Graham Jones.”
Blaenau Gwent. Musical “Nye” has public library scene

Not a ban

Editorial

Not a big week for news with, sadly, the main theme being the continued issue of difficulties in American libraries. There’s continued pressure in many states to make librarians accountable for the books that children can access, up to an including fines and prison sentences. Not that this is apparently banning books according a large comment free-to-access piece in the pay-to-view Telegraph this week, which is perhaps an unsurprising indication of how that newspaper feels about the subject. Another article, not in a right-wing national newspaper, argues that such banning (of events as well as books) does exist and is showing signs of spreading to the UK. Unconnected with this, perhaps , is the news that there’s also a sign (or rather, no longer a sign) that Norfolk Libraries are not quite the “safe space” for Trans people that they were once advertised as being.

Local news by authority

National news

  • Book banning: warnings the UK must heed – The Boar. ” if you think this is a purely American issue, you are sorely mistaken. As protests sprout here in the UK, we should prepare to fight the growing culture of censorship, lest we lose the right for expression, integrity, and inclusivity that facilitates great literature.” … “the urge to suppress unconventional and under-represented topics remains constant. However, research suggests that these efforts of suppression are much more harmful than the content within the books, particularly for children.”

International news

Local news by authority

Libraries turning into drug-infested sex dens

Editorial

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.”