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

Read and have a think

Editorial

A quiet week, as befits one where almost all libraries were closed except for order and collect and PC use. Some great ideas though, including postcards to pin book packages, celebrity story-times plus also – my favourite – library zoom backgrounds. I’m therefore delighted that Barney Allan from DCA (their advert is below – thanks for the sponsorship, DCA!) send in an interesting piece. Read and have a think.

Advert for Niche Academy from DCA

A Digital Catch-22 for Libraries: Barney Allen from DCA on the problems with the library digital offer and worries over the “SDP”.

Libraries are seeing increased demand for digital services to reach users and meet their needs. Some have made good progress with digital loans, events and services. I work with service providers in these areas and it’s been good to see increased interest and take-up for our clients’ offerings.

I’m grateful for all this but more interested in a big anomaly here. Libraries say they are prioritising digital loans and services, diverting funds to e-content, striving to bridge the digital divide, promote digital literacy and other good things. Yet most UK library webpages, to quote one of our US partners,  ‘Look like someone threw up a bunch of code’. 

I’m interested to know why that is and if it can be fixed. Whenever I raise website issues with library people, they most often give me pitying head-shakes and say things like: ‘you don’t understand’ or ‘we’d get fired’ or even ‘but we have the Universal Offer’. It’s as if the impasse is absolute, the problems unsolvable and the finest minds in library leadership are resigned to a status quo of failure. It’s almost like it’s policy.

Digital circulations are still quite low – according to CIPFA – accounting for only a small percentage of total borrowings, which are themselves in steady decline. Measurement of anything in libraryland is always controversial and that’s probably fine too – maybe there are abundant unknowable benefits, it’s ‘not just about books’ after all, and who doesn’t have an aversion to capitalist KPIs? 

But data is well, data. If usage continues to decline, then funding is challenged and jobs are at risk, not to mention the whole edifice. Growing digital usage should be an escape route for libraries in danger. And if we can’t improve these dull, unnavigable websites, usage won’t go up, funding will go down and libraries will close. Most public library websites are entirely controlled by local authorities’ IT teams. They tend to prioritise practical things like clarity, utility and security to deliver services and protect data, which is fair enough. If I want to know the holiday bin collection rota or how to pay my council tax, I need no razzamatazz – just the facts, thank you.

But libraries seeking to establish a digital footprint in a teeming market have a different set of requirements. Whatever the goals – supporting reading and literacy, business, education, training, children and parents, inclusion, diversity, mental health, Covid – they all require the capacity to make us aware that these library treasures exist and engage us to the extent that we use them. If we can agree that online discoverability and engagement really are desirable if not essential qualities for library services now, how can we fix them if we can’t talk with the people who control them? Is there anyone else we can talk to?

On the fixing part, we can probably forget the current library leadership. Library strategy and leadership is in the hands of some powerful and well-funded agencies, including DCMS, The British Library, Arts Council England, CILIP, Libraries Connected, The Reading Agency, The Carnegie Trust and of course the local authorities. Big talk and mutual-admiration abound as does big spending on very little, here are just two examples:

  • Two out of three of the only blog pieces in the last 12 months on the DCMS library site were fanfares to imperial honours for librarians. So that’s alright then. 
  • The British Library has spent almost £1 million over the last six years producing world-beating reports on The Single Digital Presence,  the national digital library that remains conspicuous by its absence. 

So despite the plethora of management, reports and yes, money, UK digital library provision remains stunted and usage low.  And if it is to be a function of policy and leadership that libraries have unappealing websites that deliver unsatisfying experiences, there is probably nothing we can do about that.

Or is there? After all, locked-down libraries have smelt the digital coffee and some have achieved good things, albeit in a small way.  Users, God  help them, meanwhile may have had a look at their library websites and well, that’s all mostly. Could there be a workaround? Who else can we talk to? Some libraries already make good use of social media, and third party platforms to create and promote online events. Dave Rowe at Libraries Hacked has suggested libraries should be making new sites outside the arid local authority sandbox that are designed to serve the public rather than council and library management. Another way forward might be sponsorship. Whatever, the current toxic library mix of an absent leadership and a crippled web presence is preventing the sector from achieving it’s digital potential and failing the public. There has to be something we can do to unpick or go round this Catch-22. Next time we’ll have a look at the options in more detail.”

National news

  • Could libraries help us tackle loneliness? – Happiful. “A £3.5 million award to The Reading Agency has injected new life into libraries’ mental health and wellbeing programmes”
  • Covid: £2.25m National Library Wales jobs rescue package announced – BBC. “An extra £3.95m will go to National Museum Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru. The money will be provided over the current and next financial years. The Welsh Government has faced criticism for failing to increase its grant funding for the library, including an accusation from one senior source at the institution that ministers failed to “recognise the importance of our cultural institutions”.”
  • Covid: Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs to be given in old mobile library – BBC. “When the health board was searching for a suitable vehicle, Neath Port Talbot council donated a mobile library that had reached the end of its life transporting books”
  • Episode 82 Ian Anstice – Public Library News UK – Library Pros. Podcast. “Joining the podcast from across “The Pond” in Wales, UK is Ian Anstice, who publishes Public Libraries News, an online publication sharing what libraries are doing in the UK. Ian was so much fun to speak with. We talked about the origins of PLN as a blog and how it developed over time. We also talk about the forced evolution of digital programming because of the pandemic and whether it is sustainable or part of the “new normal” and how we quantify attendance and satisfaction.”

“Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion at all ages. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England, providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital skills. Libraries help tackle the combined barriers of skills, confidence and motivation by offering skills training, helping people to understand the benefits that using the internet and accessing online services can bring. Their vital role has been recognised during the current lockdown, with the new regulations enabling libraries to continue some services during this lockdown period including access to public PCs for essential purposes.”

Gillian Keegan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

International news

Local news by authority

Not yet the tsunami

Editorial

Two cuts announced this week. The first is in the wealthy (and apparently obsessed with the word “royal”) borough of Windsor and Maidenhead which is looking to close four branches. The reasoning for this appears to be as much ideological as for any other reason. The second is in Warrington – actually announced in early January but missed here – where the leisure trust Livewire’s income is suffering due to lockdowns and is looking for redundancies. Elsewhere, there’s a few co-locations. So, not yet the tsunami of cuts that has been widely feared. Let’s hope the wave never comes.

Changes by local authority

Advert for Niche Academy from DCA

National news

  • The changing world of public libraries in the pandemic – University of Strathclyde. “The prevalence of lending digital books, which had already been increasing for a number of years, has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left them as the only option for many library members during periods of lockdown. The study will examine changes in information behaviour, issues around the potential emergence of a ‘digital divide’ and concerns over privacy.”
  • Coaching yourself through the times we’re in – British Library. Friday 4 February webinar. “Overall this session will help you stay clear, calm, centred, energised, organised and resourceful and be best placed to survive and thrive personally and professionally in the days, weeks and year ahead and in our emerging new world.”
  • Library computers to play important role in economic recovery – Lorensbergs. “The latest netloan public library survey results predict library PCs will play a significant role in the UK’s economic recovery. 80% of library services rate the People’s Network of computers as essential for supporting jobseeking. From the 80 library authorities that participated, over 90% had provided PCs in the second half of 2020. It offers a lifeline to jobseekers, benefit claimants, and many others without other means to get online as the pandemic continues.”
  • LUSH Libraries Unleash Such Happiness – Eventbrite. Thursday 4 March. “Our inaugural conference welcomes representatives from Libraries Friends groups from all over the country. The event provides a treasure trove of ideas for activities, fundraising and community elevation. We are delighted to welcome keynote speakers Lemn Sissay, poet and performer, and Ron Finley, guerilla gardener as well as Chanje Kunde who will be performing a specially commissioned piece to uplift us all.12 thought-provoking workshops, spaces to share practical suggestions and ask questions. A place to listen. A place to be heard. A place to be inspired. Join us and bring some oomph to your Friends group.”
  • Mozfest bursaries for libraries – Libraries Connected. “MozFest is a seven-day celebration for, by, and about people who love the internet, showcasing world-changing ideas and technology through exhibitions, talks and interactive sessions. This year’s festival will be held virtually from the 8 – 19 March and we are delighted to announce that we are offering a number of bursaries to public library staff who would like to attend.”
  • National Library of Wales: Ministers accused of ‘lack of political will’ – BBC. “Thirty jobs are at risk at the library in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, and services are expected to be cut significantly. The source added: “It isn’t a lack of money, it’s a lack of political will.” The Welsh Government said it was “looking at every option” to protect jobs.”
  • Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant Award – NAG. “NAG are pleased to announce that their Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant will run again for 2021.   This grant, launched in 2019, aims to enable public libraries to take forward an innovative project, which may have already had a pilot phase, and develop it further.  We have doubled the grant pot to £10,000 this year and we are open to either making two smaller awards or supporting one large project depending upon the strength of applications.”
  • World Book Day Book Club – World Book Day. “We’re thrilled to bring you news of our brand new World Book Day Book Club. Talking about books together makes them more fun, memorable and magic. From March, tune into YouTube and read with us. We’ll share our favourite monthly read, talk to authors and more. Join in at home, in school & in libraries”
    • For Libraries – World Book Day. “Have a look at our Libraries Tool Kit for ideas and resources to help you make World Book Day happen in 2021. World Book Day will work more closely with libraries this year than ever before. We hope to get every library authority involved in this major reading event.”

International news

  • Argentina Libraries on the margins – Medium / Edward Civallaro. “Libraries that operate on the margins are countless in Latin America. Those spaces have become (sometimes unwittingly or without realizing it, others fully aware of it) into havens that allow resistance, activism, struggle, solidarity, and even militancy: militancy for social and environmental justice, for equality, for inclusion, for memory, for one’s own and others’ rights…”
  • Australia – Library Map Part 1 – Library Flanneur. Map of all Australian libraries with details, including on if they fine, included.
  • Germany – The Berlin State Library’s priceless treasures – MSN. Pictures. “Soon, people will once again be able to browse to their heart’s content in the spacious reading room, which architect HG Merz designed in a bright orange color. The institution is a historical research and reference library, with little of the holdings digitized. So, if you want to do research, you have to physically visit the site.”
  • Iraq – Artist Edmund de Waal Donates 2,000 Books to Iraqi Library Decimated by ISIS – Hyperallergic. “The University of Mosul (UoM) once held one of the largest libraries in West Asia, housing over a million books and rare historical materials, including a Quran from the ninth century and periodicals dating back to 1700 BCE. After Islamic State forces captured the city in 2014, much of its invaluable collection turned to ashes. Militants of the terrorist group burned down the building and its contents in what UNESCO described as “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.””
  • USA – Designing for the Future — The Post-Pandemic Library – Medium / Ditto Press. “In the midst of ongoing turmoil, libraries must still plan for the future. For some, this means reorganizing and reopening. Others must prepare for renovations or new construction in the face of grave uncertainties. Nobody knows — or can know — what the patron of 2022 wants. Will our struggles today will lead us to greater comity or further division? These questions remain unsettled. Essential services still move forward, however. Scheduled renovations must be planned. New libraries cannot wait for society to settle before they are built.” Multiple ideas.

Local news by authority

Safety and fines

Editorial

Safety is at the top of everyone’s minds at the moment so it is reassuring seeing the statement from Libraries Connected. I know from personal experience that library services up and down the country are taking the health of their staff as a priority and being very careful with the services they offer. However, I also hear from heart-rending emails and private and public social media messages that this is not the case in every service in the country. With 150 in England alone, perhaps that is too much to hope for, but it is disappointing nonetheless.

Going fines-free was a movement really taking hold before Covid in the UK and, ironically, pretty much every service in the country had to waive fines as the buildings were closed. It’s therefore newsworthy that Walsall has decided to jumpstart the movement again by getting rid of fines from April. Interestingly, the arguments they put for the move – that fining print items but not digital is starting to look odd and that people are holding on to late books to avoid paying fines – are not ones I’ve seen overly before. So perhaps more will follow suit, assuming that the need for income does not over-ride everything. And, hanging over it all, there is the worry of all those thousands of books gathering dust in houses since March last year. What will happen to them we will find out this year.

Advert for Niche Academy from DCA

Changes by local authority

National news

  • ACE makes £152,000 grant for library e-books and audio – BookSeller. “Arts Council England (ACE) is awarding £152,000 to help public libraries buy e-books and digital audio products after demand soared during the pandemic. Each of England’s 150 public library services will be given £1,000, with £2,000 going to Libraries Connected to cover costs in distributing the funds. ACE said there had been a 146% increase in demand for digital stock at libraries during the coronavirus crisis. The grants would help increase supply of products like children’s books, health and wellbeing titles and popular fiction while also benefiting publishers, who will receive a large share of the grant through purchases made by libraries, the organisation said.”
  • Digital Delivery Services – Carnegie UK Trust. “we want to support organisations to develop their capability and confidence to explore providing services online or test new out new digital techniques where appropriate, to ultimately ensure that individuals receive the services they need to support their wellbeing through and beyond this pandemic”. Various reports.
  • Libraries Connected statement on English libraries in lockdown – Libraries Connected. “all decisions on services should be driven by a comprehensive risk assessment carried out with staff and unions. This should also include individual risk assessments, where appropriate, that reflect the specific circumstances of individual staff. “
  • Oak National Academy launches virtual library with NLT – BookSeller. “The launch of the free digital library comes as over 2.2 million pupils accessed Oak National Academy in the first week of term, taking part in over 15 million lessons after measures were taken to close schools across the UK to the majority of children on the first day of term.”

“Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers, and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained on digital skills to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital. Their vital role has been recognised in exceptions to tier and national restrictions, where after the first lock-down public libraries have been permitted to allow people to use library buildings for public PC use to access essential public services.”

Carol Dinenage MP, Secretary of State. in parliament.
  • Virtual library ‘a wake up call’ for sector over promised national website – BookSeller. “… following news this week that Oak National Academy has launched a new virtual library in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, some have expressed their frustration over the SDP’s slow progress and warn other organisations could fill the gap. Ian Anstice, who runs website Public Libraries News, told The Bookseller: “The announcement that an academy is supplying e-books rather than the public library service should be seen as a combined wake-up call and kick in the teeth to the sector. A national website is something that is highly possible and should have been done years ago. The fact that there is nothing, not even a nationally organised ‘find your local library’ webpage, is an embarrassment to a sector that is, after all, based on information provision.””
  • Virtual library gives children in England free book access – BBC.
  • Welcome to the Future Funding programme – Libraries Connected. “We are using a development model to guide this so that libraries can align the generation of sustainable income with the needs of their communities.” … ” Future Funding will help libraries to generate the income they need to continue and grow their key role in our social infrastructure.”

International news

  • Kenya – Catalogues of three McMillan libraries to be digitised – Star. “The project by the county government of Nairobi, British Council and Book Bunk will enable access to Kenya’s colonial history. 137,705 books at the McMillan Library and two of its branches in Eastlands, Kaloleni and Makadara  will be digitised.”

Local news by authority

Not all that key or critical then, plus a national humiliation

Editorial

A couple of things to talk about this week. The first is that this is the busiest week for a long while in terms of changes to budget, and all of it is bad. Croydon, Leeds and Lewisham are looking at some serious cuts. It’s nothing we’ve not seen before but this is the first time such cuts have been announcing while at the same time library workers are being described as “Key/critical workers” by the minister of state for Digital and Culture.

Secondly, and I know I have been here before but nothing has changed, I would like to flag the general frustration at the continuing lack of a “single digital presence”, or national public library website. This is made especially obvious today by the announcement that an academy is being paid to offer a free e-book to every child in the country. Well, that should have been through public libraries. And we could have done it a whole lot better (just the one e-book at a time? Good grief) but inertia, atomisation and a general lack of urgency from the DCMS on down has led to the current and continuing no-show.

This was embarrassing and obvious at the start of lockdown in March and is doubly so now, almost a year on. The British Library are currently finishing off a (hopefully) final research project on the subject and I hope then that it all hits the ground running. Because this lack of a site is a humiliation for the whole public library sector. And it needs to be addressed. Now.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Downloading a new normal: Privacy, exclusion, and information behaviour in public library digital services use during COVID – New Normal. “This project explores the ‘digital turn’ brought about by COVID, the experience of the compelled move from analogue to digital in public libraries, from multiple perspectives :– (1) Organisational and sectoral issues (2) Ethical issues (3) User information behaviour issues”
  • Libraries are part of the Covid frontline – and they need our help – Penguin. “I was pulled (not literally, as we must keep two metres apart from our colleagues at all times) aside and warned that I had been caught breaching our Covid safety rules, putting myself and others at risk and potentially earning me a formal disciplinary or worse. I had allowed a member of the public to place their mobile phone in my gloved hand. I tried to explain that the library user in question had asked me to print off a series of photographs for them; the user was severely dyslexic, and our print system can be difficult for even the most IT-savvy of users.”
  • Lockdown made our library better – BookSeller. “I have seen so many library services just disappear due to lockdown, both in France and England, and I am so proud of what we achieved. Even if not everything worked out the way we wanted to, whether it was in terms of attendance or technical problems, we always managed to find a solution and to take something from everything we did, either a new skill, a new way to work together or a new tool to develop in future projects. I think the best side of all that is that we are already thinking about the future and creating hybrid events, both digital and physical, and new ways to interact with our customers in the future. “

“So we have learnt and enjoyed a great deal from delivering services and engaging with the community in 2020 and very much looking forward to innovation in 2021. It was a difficult year for everybody but in terms of my job, I absolutely had a brilliant year, developed events and projects I never thought I would have time to work on, and it was really good to have this space to innovate and try new things.”

Marion Tessier, Kingston Libraries. 
  • Poor families’ living costs have surged during pandemic, UK study finds – Guardian. “Normal coping strategies employed by poorer families – visiting friends and families for occasional meals, or using the library for free internet access, and charity shops for cheap clothes – became harder as a result of household mixing restrictions and the closure of libraries and non-essential retail.”
  • Virtual library gives children in England free book access – BBC. “Children in England will be able to access books online free during school closures via a virtual library. Internet classroom Oak National Academy created the library after schools moved to remote learning for the majority of pupils until February half-term.”

International news

  • Austria – The living room behind the bookshelves – Designing Libraries. “The building’s curved shape can only be experienced on the inside at the reading spots arranged along the outer walls of the open-access library on the ground and upper floor. A two-storey atrium is cut out of the volume, forming a rectangular space provided natural light by skylights.”
  • Global Over 100 Public Libraries Exceed 1 Million Digital Book Checkouts in 2020 – PR Newswire. ” A record 102 public library systems from around the world empowered readers to borrow over 1 million ebooks and audiobooks from their digital collections in 2020. This represents the most systems ever to reach this milestone through OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform. Contributing factors include increased digital book usage due to the pandemic, elevated interest in social justice titles and BIPOC authors and strong circulation growth for children’s and young adult titles because of remote learning.”
  • Netherlands / Norway – Designed to inspire – Designing Libraries. Netherlands: “The library is part of a completely renovated multifunctional centre in the heart of the municipality of Cranendonck, The Netherlands. It has a theatre hall, meeting rooms, spaces for workshops, a sports hall, as well as the library, and is a home to various clubs and associations.”. Norway: “You easily get a cathedral feeling from the light in the large windows in the high, open space. The number of visitors in the library has tripled and lending rates have also increased significantly. The increased number of visitors is partly due to the central location in the local culture house, where the library is located in the middle of Vindafjord’s social and cultural hub.”
  • Taiwan – Taiwan’s Tainan celebrates grand opening of main library – Taiwan News. “The library comprises six above-ground floors and two below. It houses about 600,000 books, including 500 for the visually impaired and 16,000 authored during the Japanese colonial era. In addition, the building features a cafe, an independent bookstore, a culinary arts classroom, a co-working space, three public art spaces, and a memorial exhibition that pays tribute to more than 200 deceased notable figures in Tainan. A playground and an outdoor reading area are also under construction.”
  • USA – The Surprisingly Complicated History of Conan the Librarian – CBR. Who made the joke first? Nope, it wasn’t Monty Python.

Local news by authority

Tower Hamlets – There’s an open meeting about the proposed cuts to @ideastores
this Tuesday at 7pm. Attend via Zoom at http://bit.ly/THLib19Jan

The third lockdown: damned if you do ..?

Editorial

Rather than commenting directly on what is going on, this editorial will be an overview of the current state of play in this country’s libraries. Full details can be found here. After checking the status of each and every service, this appears to to be at least an acceptable rough-draft first estimate of what is going on:

  • more than two thirds of English public library services are offering some sort of click and collect service, normally from a small selection of branches. Over one-third are offering PCs for “essential use” and around a quarter have an operating home library service. On other hand, at least a fifth are entirely closed – apart from online of course.
  • in Wales, most are offering click and collect, but PC use is far rarer.
  • in Scotland, barely a quarter are offering click and collect, with very few offering PCs
  • Northern Irish libraries are providing click and collect in all branches but not PC usage.
  • In the whole country, it appears to be only Guernsey that is operating in any way similar to normality.

This completely mixed bag is the new normal and indeed reflects the variety present in library services before Covid. However, what is new is the intensity of the debate on social media about the wisdom of offering even click and collect in libraries.

Those in favour point out the lifeline library services can be for people, especially in such lonely times as now. They also point out that this service may strengthen the library’s hand when it comes to budget setting. Those against, including Unison, are worried about the possibility of infection, especially amongst staff and the most vulnerable, and doubt whether opening would have much impact on budgets at all. The strength of feeling appears stronger this time than in the second lockdown, presumably due to the increased rates of infection. Interestingly, everywhere appears to be sticking with quarantining books, even though this is a practice which has not taken place in many European countries.

It seems odd to discuss anything but lockdown at the moment so I’ll leave it there. I wish you all a safe and healthy week.

National news

  • £7.5m to be distributed to help tackle winter loneliness – UK Fundraising. “£5 million will go to Arts Council England for arts and library services, of which £3.5 million has been awarded by DCMS to national charity The Reading Agency, for its Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes”
  • Are libraries open during lockdown? – Express. Includes link to PLN.
  • Libraries sector in the New Year Honours list – DCMS Libraries. “Congratulations to the 6 people working in or with the public libraries sector in England who were awarded honours last week in recognition of their contribution to libraries.”: Mark Freeman MBE (President Libraries Connected / Stockton on Tees), Stellar Thebridge MBE (Warwickshire), Michael Clarke MBE (London), Terry Bracher BEM (Wiltshire), Richard Fawcett BEM (Thurston volunteer library). Jon Davies BEM (Kirklees).
  • Lyngsoe Systems to acquire PV Supa Group – Lynsgoe Systems. 2CQR part of deal. “Building on 50 years of combined experience … based on the Scandinavian design heritage … unifying two of the Library market’s leading players into one strong entity will deliver new complementary solutions and services to libraries across the world and even stronger support to the large existing customer base.”
  • Wiltshire and Swindon heritage services manager Terry Bracher is awarded a British Empire Medal – Wiltshire Times. “Mr Bracher, 58, is manager for heritage services at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, and has been national chairman of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals local studies group for ten years.”
  • Tier 4 rules in full: What you can do in England’s highest Covid restrictions, as more areas added in review – I. ” Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services and for click-and-collect service”
  • Union calls for libraries to be ‘completely closed’ during lockdown – LocalGov. ” Unison argues that even these limited services expose library workers and users to unnecessary risks in the face of a highly transmissible COVID-19 variant.”, Unison says “‘We recognise how important libraries are to local communities but for the moment we must focus on what is best for the health and safety of the public and library workers.’”

International news

Local news by authority

Lockdown 3, basically

Editorial

A large number of libraries that have only recently come out of lockdown, in London and the South-East have basically gone straight back into them. The Tier 4 rules allow libraries to be open for digital usage and click-and-collect only so, for 17.7 million people, it means not browsing once more. Also in the South-East, it’s worth mentioning the campaign against library cuts in Croydon, which has been heavily involved in protest recently. Other than that, well, I’d like to wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It has to be better than 2020 hasn’t it?

National news

  • CWA Library Initiatives – Shots Mag. “The world-famous CWA Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for more than half a century. Only library staff can nominate authors for the CWA Dagger in the Library. Nominations are open until February 26, 2021 and up to three members of staff from each UK library can nominate.”
  • Five-year stats show library service entering ‘rapid decline’, finds Coates – BookSeller. The standard piece from Tim Coates at the end. There is some useful, and sadly depressing, information here.
  • Full list of businesses that must close in new Tier 4 and what can stay open – Mirror. Report libraries must close in Tier 4 areas.
  • Fun Palaces is growing – and changing – Fun Palaces. “We are sad and excited to announce that co-founders and co-directors Stella Duffy and Sarah-Jane Rawlings are leaving Fun Palaces; Stella at the end of January, Sarah-Jane in late spring/early summer. Kirsty Lothian, our producer since the beginning, will step up as co-director, and in January we will recruit for someone (or someones, as we are all currently part time) to join the HQ team, working alongside our Ambassadors across the country,”
  • Library Cuts Are an Affront to Democracy – Byline Times. “It would seem both bizarre and destructive to suggest that because we have done without schools, pubs and theatres during lockdown, that we don’t really need them at all. Yet this was the same logic propounded by Walsall’s council leader, Mike Bird, when he suggested he was considering whether, having done without libraries for so long during the Coronavirus pandemic, it is necessary to reopen them at all. This policy could be dismissed as a one-off act of local cretinism. However …”significantly, the strongest networks of libraries are typically found in countries with the most stable democracies.”
  • North Wales GPs, libraries and hospitals to benefit from £8m roll-out of ultrafast broadband – Denbighshire Free Press. “The Local Full Fibre Network Programme will see a total of 350 sites across Denbighshire, Conwy, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Flintshire and Wrexham switch from copper-based network to high quality gigabit broadband.”
  • Preston university scientists bring superheroes to life in book for children’s wards and libraries this Christmas – Lancashire Post. “The seven academics from the University of Central Lancashire have partnered up with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The Reading Agency to share their new book ‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’, with libraries across the UK and children who are spending the festive season in hospital.” … “Public libraries throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive 7,000 free copies of the book.”
  • Tier 4: Stay at Home – Gov.uk. “community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services”
  • Top Ebooks and Audiobooks from UK Public Library Authorities in 2020 – OverDrive. “Through the first 11 months of 2020, millions of ebooks and audiobooks have been borrowed from public libraries in the UK — a 66% increase from 2019. Ebook issues experienced the highest growth, 74% higher than this time last year. Audiobook issues also increased in 2020, 47% growth year-over-year. “

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Call for ‘urgent review’ of library’s £420,000 a year annual rent – Telegraph and Argus. “Council has once again been criticised over the £420,000 it pays each year to rent space for City Library, with campaigners saying a better deal could safeguard the District’s libraries for years to come. And one Councillor called for Council bosses to hold an ‘urgent review’ of the facility’s costs.” … “The £420,000 annual rent had been a huge strain on the library budget, but last year the Council revealed that the lease costs had been moved to other Council budget pots, and would no longer weigh down the stretched library budget.”
  • Caerphilly – Caerphilly libraries providing free sanitary products – South Wales Argus. “As part of their period dignity initiative, Caerphilly County Borough Council has made packs containing sanitary products available for free at all 18 of its libraries across the borough.”
  • Cornwall – Free festive craft bags from Cornwall Council – The Packet. “Cornwall Council’s libraries team want to make sure that younger people don’t miss out this Christmas and are encouraging families to get creative at home. They have produced more than 600 festive craft bags that will be available from local libraries, as well as the council’s two mobile library vans.”
  • Croydon – ‘What’s a library mummy?’ – South Norwood campaigners fear kids could grow up not knowing – My London. “Dozens of families came out to support their local library in South Norwood amid fears council cuts could see it closed for good.” … “More than 100 protestors gathered outside Pump House on Saturday, December 5. Libby Hamilton, whose petition to save the library has gained 2,600 signatures, said: “There was one little kid holding a sign saying ‘what’s a library mummy?’ – we really want our children to know what a library is and appreciate it.””
    • Campaigners fight to save Croydon libraries from cuts – Sutton and Croydson Guardian. “Campaigners in Croydon are fighting to save the borough’s libraries from closing after the declaration of a Section 114 notice and “effective” bankruptcy from the council has placed them under serious threat.”
    • Dozens of families come out in support of five Croydon libraries threatened with closure – London News Online. “Children’s author Laura Henry, creator of Jo Jo and Gran Gran on CBeebies, attended the protest. Afterwards, she tweeted: “I lived in South Norwood for 10 years. My sons and I practically lived in this library. “Libraries are the heart of a community and books and reading are super important.””
    • Five Croydon libraries under threat… again! – Library Campaign. “The campaigns for individual libraries combined forces as Save Croydon Libraries campaign to fight the cuts more effectively in the past, and are already networking again. Friends of South Norwood Library has joined with Save Sanderstead Library campaign and there are plans for a campaign for Shirley library too”
    • Save Croydon Libraries Campaign – SOS Library. Petition. “All these libraries merit saving. Some serve deprived or elderly communities. Some give easy access and offer parking as well as being on good transport links. They provide activities for the community, from birth onwards. We have fought to save our libraries before and we need to keep up the fight! Please sign and join the campaign!”
    • Save South Norwood Library – Friends of South Norwood Library. “Croydon Council has said it could soon close South Norwood Library. In a bid to solve a £67 million gap in the budget, the council is making huge cuts across the council and is considering closing five local libraries. This means our current library would be shut down, and our new library would close before it has even opened.”
Derbyshire

“I would like to start by paying tribute to all librarians and other staff working in the public library services across our nation, and of course in my constituency of Stockport. Research tells us that public libraries are a vital part of our social infrastructure. They empower and equalise our communities. They strengthen communities, improve digital inclusion, and help with everything from physical and mental health to cultural engagement, literacy, diversity, inclusion, and of course education. I am incredibly proud of the library staff in my borough of Stockport. They do an important job and are a key part of our community. The Central Library in the heart of my constituency is grade 2 listed, internally and externally, and is one of the original Carnegie-funded libraries, built in 1913. My town has a beautiful heritage and iconic buildings, from the Victorian viaduct, to the Central Library, to the outstanding Underbanks.

Sadly, a combination of covid and years of central Government underfunding have forced many local authorities to close public libraries and reduce the offer available to communities. Of course, public health must come first and foremost, but we must recognise the positive impact that public libraries make on the wellbeing of our constituents. It is evident that we need a fair financial settlement from the Government so that local authorities can continue to support libraries and all public services. I welcome the statement made earlier in the Chamber, but, as ever, the devil is in the detail, and we need to make sure that the funding is made available to all councils rather than to specific shires. I have a record of campaigning against Government austerity policies over the past decade, and this terrible pandemic has highlighted the need to support our local authorities properly.”

Stockport – Navendu Mishra MP
  • Stoke on Trent – Christmas gifts and online festive fun at museums and libraries – Stoke on Trent Council. “Stoke-on-Trent’s libraries are running their click, call and collect service. As part of this, the libraries are also creating Christmas book bundles for children – with a range of festive options available for families to borrow. Librarians are also putting on a series of online activities for children and families to help everyone get in the festive spirit, including Christmas story times, craft sessions and sing-along events. These will all be available via Stoke-on-Trent Libraries’ Facebook page …”
  • Tower Hamlets – Help shape the future of Tower Hamlets’ library service – Let’s Talk Tower Hamlets. “Until now, Tower Hamlets has kept all its libraries and Idea Stores open in the face of continued government cuts which have seen 778 libraries close nationally since austerity was introduced a decade ago. Continued government changes to council funding and the Covid-19 crisis mean the council has to save £30m by 2024. This is on top of £200m already saved since 2010. You can find out more in our budget consultation. To do this, savings have to be made across the council including reducing the cost of the library service, which is £4.4 million a year. The savings proposed will deliver savings of £1.6 million.”
  • Worcestershire – There’s plenty to see and do at Worcestershire libraries this Christmas – Redditch Standard. Free poems: “Libraries in Redditch, Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Worcester are hoping visitors will use the service to reconnect with old friends or to simply let someone know they’re loved.”

Well, thank goodness 2020 is almost done

Editorial

Well done everyone, you’ve almost survived what is doubtless a contender for one of the worst, or at least most memorable, years of your life. Make sure you’re ready for the holidays, stay safe and try to ignore the all-but-certain likelihood of a third Covid wave combined this time with – fun! – Brexit chaos in some shape or another. Libraries survived 2020 and I am sure they will 2021 as well.

There’s a couple of good news stories below as well as, sadly, a could of cases of libraries closed down due to positive Covid tests. My favourite story is the absolutely hilarious response from Walsall councillors in response to people reporting the words of their leader who, you’ll remember, closed down all his libraries and then questioned whether he should reopen them being no-one was using them. The councillors are shocked that such words were seen as suggesting that they may be considering closing a library or three. They also accuse reporters of twisting words. Alas for such an accusation, reporters quoted the leader verbatim. Merry Christmas to you Walsall councillors, you’re hilarious.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Delivering Public Engagement Digitally – Carnegie UK Trust. “The Engaging Libraries programme supports public library services across the UK to run public engagement activities on research within the themes of health, society and culture. It is funded by Wellcome Trust and Wolfson Foundation, and delivered by the Carnegie UK Trust. This digital learning leaflet shares what has been gleaned from the delivery of digital public engagement activities by two Engaging Libraries projects during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and first national lockdown.”
  • Libraries are vital to tackling loneliness – Municipal Journal. “Research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in Manchester found more than 80% of library users who experience feelings of loneliness or isolation felt the library helped combat these feelings. The survey also indicated that respondents felt the library served as an information hub and community centre, providing visitors with an opportunity to meet others and engage in social activities.” … “Engaging Libraries Phase 2 is supporting 16 public library services across the UK to run public engagement activities on research within the themes of health, society and culture. It is designed to help facilitate partnerships between public library services and researchers, and spark people’s curiosity around topics that are relevant or interesting to them.”

International news

  • Japan – Libraries in Japan install machines that would disinfect books using UV light – International Business Times. “A number of libraries in Japan have now installed machines that will sterilise books using ultraviolet light. This would give their visitors that peace of mind knowing that a book that they would take out from the library would be free of viruses and they can avoid the risk of bringing the virus with them to their homes and families. Many libraries across the country are already installing the machine, which would take half-a-minute to sterilise a book. Aside from sterilising the book, it also flutters the pages to ensure that dust is cleared.”
  • USA – Why Some Libraries Are Ending Fines – Atlantic. “The last five years have been very busy in the world of overdue fines. In what has been the “Fine-Free Movement,” many librarians have begun to question the traditional policy of overdue fines, and attitudes have begun to change. Are fines consistent with a fundamental mission of libraries: to serve the public with information and knowledge? And to address that mission equitably across the diverse population of rich and poor library users?”. Comprehensive guide to the USA progress towards going fines-free.
    • Bookish: Natalie Portman to chair National Library Week – Yahoo Sport. “The Oscar-winning actress will serve as honorary chair of National Library Week, the American Library Association announced Monday. National Library Week runs next April 4-10. Portman will help promote the role libraries have played in their communities during the pandemic.”

Local news by authority

The worst nightmare, plus some ancient history from CIPFA

Editor

The leader of Walsall Council, who has kept all his libraries closed, is arguing that because no-one is using them any more they’re not needed. Presumably, he’ll go on to close all the schools and, shockingly, find they’re not used any more and make the obvious budget-saving decision there. Or he could shut himself away for a few months. Seriously though, this was a fear that the library sector has had since the first lockdown happened – that cash-strapped councils will notice that the world does not end when libraries close. Of course, that ignores all those people whose quality of life and opportunities are damaged, but if you can make a statement like “I’m a firm believer that if we haven’t used something for the past four or five months, do we really need it?” with a straight face or no headaches then I’m sure such a loss would cause you no sleepless nights. Or painful thinking.

That time of year – December – has come when CIPFA releases figures for library usage and budgets from April the previous year to March. That always felt like awesomely delayed reporting in normal years but, now in 2020, the report reads like a chronicle from past times. As a historical document, it’s very interesting, with the lowest number of library closures I can remember for example, but really it’s a pointless exercise. Other than proving, of course, that the way library data is collated and published needs serious revision. If you want to see the data, provided free to CIPFA by local services who want to give it, the statistical agency will be happy to sell it you at a ridiculously high, indeed prohibitive, price. If you do that, let me know. I have a bridge in London you may want to buy. After all, I’ll only need to barricade it off for four or five months and no-one will be using it.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Caroline Dinenage, Libraries Minister’s speech at the Libraries Connected Day Seminar – Libraries Connected. ” I have been impressed by the positive and quick reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic by the sector …  it has been moving to hear about the amazing work you have done … My department has been a strong advocate for libraries during COVID and has secured some notable exceptions for library services to the restrictions that have been imposed …  I will work across local and central government to continue to encourage a ‘libraries first’ approach … we must build robust, systematic, and consistent data and evidence”
  • COVID-19 and Communities Listening Project: A Shared Response – Carnegie UK Trust. Includes several mentions of libraries.
  • CWA Dagger In the Library – Crime Writers Association. “The CWA Dagger in the Library is an award for which librarians nominate an author. The Dagger in the Library is a prize for a body of work by a crime writer that users of libraries particularly admire. Only librarians can nominate authors for the award. It is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the UK”

CIPFA

  • Library spending fell by £20m in 2019/20 amid warnings of further cuts – Bookseller. “Data released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) following a survey of local authorities showed spending fell 2.6% from £744.8m in 2018/19 to £725m in 2019/20.” … “It also showed the number of mobile and static libraries fell slightly to 3,667 from 3,685 in 2018/19” … “total paid staff falling 2.4% from 15,300 to 14,925 year-on-year. In the same period, the number of volunteers reduced by 2.6% from 51,478 to 50,128 but their total hours worked increased by 1.4%.”
  • UK’s public libraries record another year of cuts, with yet more on the way – Guardian. “Falls in funding were matched by drops in borrowing, with budgets for next year set to fall by an average of 14%” … ” total funding for libraries in Britain down by nearly £20m in the year to March” … ” the number of books borrowed from libraries in the year to March 2020 – before the pandemic closed branches – fell by almost 9m year on year, to 166m. ” … “The number of borrowers was also down, the Cipfa figures revealed, to 7.3m from 7.5m the previous years, while the number of branches still open was 3,667, down by 18 from the previous year. “

“GLL libraries together serve a population of 2,032,700 people. The recently published CIPFA figures for 2019-2020 show that in total, GLL libraries issued 3,042 books per 1,000 population, 20% above the English average of 2,535 books per 1,000 population.

Wandsworth Libraries issued more books than any other London authority during 2019-20. The service issued 1,383,740 books, and was 1st in London for the 3rd year in a row. Bromley Libraries moved into 2nd place in London, issuing 1,295,592 books. And book issues in Greenwich Libraries increased to 864,046 books (7th highest in London): we were delighted with this, as Greenwich Libraries were 29th in the London rankings in 2012 when GLL took over the management of the library service on behalf of the Council.

Out of London, the picture is good, too, with Dudley issuing 850,728 books (the highest recorded figure in the West Midlands authority. Lincolnshire Libraries made progress with book issues, too and is in the top 20 counties for the first time.”

GLL press release

International news

Local news by authority

Here we go again

Editorial

There will be a strong sense of deja vu in English public libraries this week, as they are allowed to reopen for browsing after the semi-lockdown of the last month. As before, each council will make its own choices about exactly how far it reopens its services so there is likely to be some variation, but basically many (normally not all) libraries in each council will offer browsing and PC access. Most services now have experience of click and collect so it will be interesting to see how many continue with that as well. What’s different than the first reopening is that libraries are already prepared and know what they’re doing. December is also traditionally a very quiet month.

It’s very much worse than before, though, for Croydon, who effectively declared bankruptcy last week and say they will cut services to a “bare legal minimum”. It’s hardly been a fantastically funded service before, having only recently gone back to the council after being run by the now defunct Carillion, and a veteran of some fairly serious cuts over the last decade. The fear is, as well, that Croydon’s announcement will be the first of many such elsewhere in the country.

Rishi Sunak’s announcement of £4 billion, including specific mention of capital budgets for libraries, has largely been met with scepticism online. Many point out that existing libraries barely have sufficient funding, with hundreds closed or passed to volunteers since the Conservatives took over a decade ago. The devil, as with most big funding announcements, will be in the detail, but one should expect at most a few nice library projects to come from this. It will more likely long-term be seen as, at best, a slight tinkering to improve the government’s public relations, than as a step-change in library provision. It is, after all, hard to be overly optimistic about it in a week when an entire council pretty much goes under, with more expected.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Libraries & The First Minister’s Reading Challenge – SLIC. “If your library is taking part in the Reading Challenge, we would love to hear from you about how you are promoting reading in the current climate and anything we could do to support you.”
  • Library Campaign – Includes info about public libraries, useful contacts, news and views, how to start and maintain a friends or campaign group, list of local groups, publicity tools and links to the back issues of the Library Campaign magazines. “We’ve worked really hard to provide something that gives all the most essential info (including of course a link to you!) in one compact, easy-to-use site without having to fight through a jungle of info,
    accessible to people who don’t know about libraries but also quite
    useful to those who do. Nothing else like it.”
  • On the level – CILIP 2020 Spending Review analysis – CILIP. “the decision to go ahead with a public-sector pay freeze (exempting NHS workers and people earning less than £24,000) will impact on millions of exactly those public sector workers that have worked incredibly hard to get the Nation through COVID” … ” it is hard to see how a complete freeze is justifiable” … “Unfortunately, today’s Conservative Government can’t just write off the impact of austerity. As a result, this isn’t a budget for levelling up so much as levelling off the deep scars inflicted by George Osborne’s 2010 austerity budget”

“While much here is welcome, and the wheels are already in motion to ensure that publicly-funded libraries (such as public libraries, schools and prison libraries) get a fair share of the investment funding that is being made available, we must now apply ourselves with determined effort to ensure that the next Spending Review marks a genuine turning-point in the recognition of the potential of our sector to help communities everywhere level up, not just for the short term, but long after 2020 is a distant memory.”

CILIP
  • Out of the frying pan? Libraries post pandemic – Libraries Connected. “We asked our members what they were expecting next year. Many are facing a triple whammy of budget reductions, loss of earned income and the increased costs of running COVID secure services. Some have already publicly announced cuts …Libraries that know their budget position for next year have reported an average reduction of 14%. Income this year is down by 75%, and COVID security has used up another 4% of budgets. These figures are bleak … Library budgets have been reduced so much over the last decade, even small reductions now will have large impacts on what they can deliver.”
  • RNIB: Keep the RNIB Giant Print Library Open – Change.org. “RNIB has always had a truly excellent, free library service for children offering Giant Print, Braille and Audio books. They are now planning to close the Giant Print part of the library as they state that large print books can be bought elsewhere and that children can use electronic reading devices.”
  • Scotland becomes first country to make tampons and pads available for free – ABC 11. ” period products will be available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland. ” … “In 2019, it allocated another 4 million to make period products available for free in libraries and recreational centers.”
  • Spending Review: Partial public sector pay freeze and ‘levelling up’ fund for librariesall the key pledges – I. “Mr Sunak announced a pay freeze for all those working in the public sector next year but said this would not apply to NHS doctors and nurses, who will still receive a pay rise.” … “A new £4 billion “levelling up” fund to finance local infrastructure improvement projects – such as new motorways or libraries.”

International news

  • Canada – Halifax’s fine-free library program prompts return of long overdue books – Signal. ““Our best friend is someone who will make the effort to return a book after 30 years,” the library posted on its Instagram account. The library implemented a fine amnesty program in August when it reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown. It eliminated overdue fines, forgave existing fines and reset blocked library cards. A few months into the program, the library posted a picture of the book on Abraham Lincoln with a date due slip that showed it was borrowed last in February 1990.”
  • Germany – How German Librarians Finally Caught an Elusive Book Thief – Atlas Obscura. “A photograph of Schild, looking roguish in a suit and tie, still hangs in the Regional Library of Oldenburg. It’s on a bookshelf behind the information desk, next to the printer and some dictionaries. The photograph is out of the way and unmarked, and could even be mistaken it for a keepsake. Only library staff know that it’s a warning.”
  • Sri Lanka – Books by bike: Sri Lankan man runs mobile library for kids – Independent. “During his leisure time, Mahinda Dasanayaka packs his motorbike with books and rides his mobile library — across mostly muddy roads running through tea-growing mountain areas — to underprivileged children in rural parts of Sri Lanka”
  • USA – The Library That Dolly Built – Imagination Library. “”The Library That Dolly Built” is a feature-length documentary, covering the history, impact and future of Dolly Parton’s world-wide book gifting program. Featuring the music of Dolly Parton, the film is narrated by actress and author, Danica McKellar.”
    • 10 people share why they’re thankful for libraries – I Love Libraries. ““I believe libraries are sacred places. They hold the history, science, and imagination of the ages. From first holding a book which I could read on my own, at age four, to now seventy fours years later, I have discovered information, travel, novel perspectives, the past, innovative ideas, and so much more. My life has been enriched beyond measure.””

Local news by authority

A successful pivot

Editorial

This week saw the CILIP Conference which was, of course, delivered digitally for the first time ever. Having it online was remarkably painless, with an excellent system in place and a lot of very good behind-the-scenes admin work to make it all run smoothly. It felt a lot smaller than normal in turns of sessions but the verdict at the end was that it was a successful conference, although there was some disappointment that the recorded sessions would only be made available to conference attenders.

The session I spoke at was on libraries during lockdown, with two chief librarians (Kathryn Boothroyd of St Helens and Emma Noyce of Hampshire) and Isobel Hunter of Libraries Connected. All were remarkably open and honest about the pain of this year and the challenges ahead. Budget cuts are looming and small libraries are looking vulnerable, especially as so many have stayed closed so much of this year plus also users now expected an enhanced digital offer while at the same time no reduction in the physical at the same or reduced budget. But, on the other hand, it was clear how wonderfully libraries had boosted what they do online, and also in their outreach to the public, to an extent that I think no-one had a right to expect before the crisis. Nick Poole said it best…

By the way, this was the only time – so far – that two dogs (which were assisting me by demanding walks, food and hugs while I was sat on my sofa attending the conference) got a mention in the introduction to the afternoon sessions.

But, away from the joys of dog ownership and the feel-good of the conference, the dark clouds are looming, with another serious cut announced in Bexley and outbreaks of Covid being reported in two public library services. So will the pivot of libraries in 2020 be enough to stave off bad news elsewhere? Well, that’s the true test of how successful this pivot has been. Stay tuned.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • A Chicago story with lessons for libraries everywhere – Guardian. “Chicago is not the first US library system to experiment with abolishing fines. But it is by far the largest. And the result, so far, has been that the libraries have got back most of their lost books, more people have started reading and more people from poorer areas now use the service. Relying on trust rather than punishment might sound utopian, but it works.”
  • Councils bid for vaccine role – LocalGov. “It said civic centres, sports halls, libraries, athletic stadiums, car parks and other council-owned facilities could be brought into rapid use to help the health service.”
  • Host your Zoom call ‘in Blickling Hall’ thanks to new National Trust venture – Eastern Daily Press. “Rather than having a photo of your nan behind you in a Zoom call, the National Trust has picked out Blickling Hall’s library instead. … The library is one of just six rooms from National Trust properties across the UK selected for people to use. Others include libraries at Greenway House, Devon, home of Agatha Christie, Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire and Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.”
  • Libraries Connected Day Seminar – Libraries Connected. Wednesday 2 December, 11.15 to 16.30. “Libraries are an essential part of the local economic, social and cultural recovery from Coronavirus and this seminar aims to help library leaders to demonstrate the value they bring, and to advocate for their work.”
  • Local Cultural Education Partnerships and Libraries: A partnership webinar – Eventbrite. Thursday 10 December 1.30pm. “In this webinar which will be opened by Dr Darren Henley OBE, we’ll be sharing great examples of partnership working and explore together how we can grow links between libraries and LCEPs across the country.”

International news

  • Australia – The Australian Libraries and Information Association and National Archives band together against disinformation – Canberra Times. “”I’d like to see a recommendation that the federal government work with the Australian Media Literacy Alliance to develop a national policy strategy, a framework and action – a call to action – for media literacy.”
    • Thank Freak libraries reopened – Writing Sparks. “Libraries are a great equaliser in our community, throwing their doors and services open to anyone who needs them, including book-devouring country kids like me. So, this Thank Freak goes out to libraries and to the wonderful, dedicated folk who staff them. Thank-you for providing books and so much more”
  • Finland – Åbok, Turku’s own Book-Tinder – Turku City Library. “Åbok (which went by the name “Book-Tinder” during processing), is an online service that helps the library’s customers find new and interesting reading and provides the opportunity to browse the shelves virtually.”
  • Netherlands – The hospitable library of the future – Designing Libraries. Huis Van Eemes “The House has an important core function for the village, combining two extremes: the peaceful surroundings of the library and the dynamics of the sports and culture centre”

“The editors of Library Journal need your help identifying the emerging leaders in the library world. Movers & Shakers profiles up-and-coming, innovative, creative individuals from around the world—both great leaders and behind-the-scenes contributors—who are providing inspiration and model programs for others, including programs developed this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From librarians and non-degreed library workers to publishers, vendors, coders, entrepreneurs, reviewers, and others who impact the library field, Movers & Shakers 2021 will celebrate those people who are moving all types of libraries ahead.”

Movers and Shakers 2021
  • USA – D.C. Public Library Wants To Build Bigger Neighborhood Branches In Communities Without Easy Access – DCist. “One of the main things on the D.C. Public Library wishlist: replacing four of the smallest branch libraries — Northwest One and Rosedale in Ward 6, Deanwood in Ward 7, and Parklands-Turner, currently located in a leased storefront, in Ward 8 — with newer, bigger buildings that can offer meeting rooms, study space, greater access to technology, and spatial separation between book collections for different age groups. “

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet library could become Middlesex Uni business school – Times Series. “Barnet Council wants to move Hendon Public Library in The Burroughs to a new building across the road, claiming in a report this would “significantly improve” the service.” …”the council report says moving to a new building would “facilitate the provision of a broader and enhanced library offer” and give the library “enhanced visibility”.”
    • Moving Barnet library an ‘exciting opportunity’ – Times Series. Head of libraries says ” it does not necessarily make a particularly good location for the delivery of a modern, public library service. Having a modern building gives an opportunity to design a library service for today and the future. We will have more space than the current site, and it gives us an opportunity to provide a wider range of services from that building.” [Worth looking a the councillor photo – he is wearing a bow tie and has an actual curled moustache, pointing upwards – Ed.]
  • Bedford – Local inquiry into library provision in Bedford – DCMS. “The Secretary of State has considered whether to intervene by ordering an inquiry under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (the Act) into the changes in library provision in Bedford. For the reasons set out below, the Secretary of State is currently minded not to order such an inquiry to help determine whether the agreed changes will offer a comprehensive and efficient library service.”
  • Bexley – Heavy cuts planned across Bexley Council libraries – Murky Depths. “Staff will be cut from with 28 out of 68 posts being lost. The cuts would see the main library in Bexleyheath close on Sundays alongside evening closure throughout the week and self service only in the mornings.”