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Long Covid

Editorial

It’s looking increasingly likely that Covid may, in various versions, be with us for quite some time to come. Perhaps like influenza it will never be truly eradicated but, rather, we will need to get regular jabs to fight against the latest variants. So what does that mean for libraries? Well, it means that there may be a quick superficial return to normality but, actually, no underlying return to what was standard two years ago. Even if normality is declared by the government in a couple of weeks, few would doubt that the cautious may take a while to come back in, especially if the infection rate continues to rise. People have had over a year of being told it’s dangerous, after all.

At least some people are now so comfortable with digital alternatives that they may not come back to traditional library services. This means that libraries will need to consider shifting budget long-term away from the physical to the digital, which many will be loath, for good reasons, to do. A more pessimistic possible scenario is that cash-strapped councils look at the (hopefully) short-term but steep decline in physical use and simply just reduce the printed book budget instead, and close libraries. Optimistically, of course, another alternative is what we have seen the last year or so when at least some councils have really appreciated what library services have been doing.

Something that is noticeable is that usage is returning more in some services than in others and in some branches in those services more than others. Location and type of building, the user population, and what is allowed in each service, appear to be the factors here. Many people come into libraries for events and activities and so it is only with the return of fear-free events that we may see something like “regular” numbers coming back. But when will people be fear-free? Well, the next couple of months will be crucial here in finding out, especially the final numbers for the Summer Reading Challenge.

I remember a seminar a year ago entitled “Libraries After Covid”. That title proved really optimistic at the time but now perhaps no less so. It’s even possible that this very editorial looks optimistic if the government needs to backtrack on plans if infection rates continue to rise. But I think what we can safely say, in any currently realistic scenario, is that, like every other sector, public libraries will probably need to cope with the fall-out from Covid, in one way or another, for a long time to come.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • CILIP Webinar: BL Single Digital Presence Update CILIP / British Library.  Led by Liz White and Becca Mytton. SDP will be used to promote physical library as well as digital. Help local library services improve their digital services too. So, not single – a national presence plus also local library digital services, filling the gaps local services cannot. Ensure every library service has engaging local presence. SDP should be accessible via PC/mobile and be capable of being added on to. ACE provision for local services to bid to boost digital, around 50 services expected to benefit. Live site some time in 2022. Open dialogue with BL welcomed.
  • Death positive libraries: An invitation – Libraries Connected. “library services have been developing events and activities that focus on engaging residents in conversations around death, dying and planning for end of life since 2018. ” … “Almost 80% of British adults find it difficult to talk about death, even though we all have to face it.” … “The time is now right to scale up and rollout a framework of support so that all UK library services can be death positive libraries.”
  • Future Funding Showcase – Libraries Connected. 8 July, 1 to 3pm. “You’ll hear why income generation is so important, what the course will cover and you’ll have the opportunity to meet the trainer and mentors.”
  • Independent Review of Public Library Financing Panel announcement – CILIP. “All eight members of this panel have extensive experience in public and academic libraries, local government, lifelong learning and the cultural sector.”. Aim is “to identify the opportunities and risks inherent in our current model for the resourcing and funding of public libraries; to identify under-exploited opportunities to secure a more diverse and sustainable funding base for the future and to set out a roadmap of recommendations for how this might be achieved.”
  • Know your rights: the key to eBook access – CILIP. “The law, or our understanding of it, is the biggest threat to a fragile status quo, Ben says: “The goal posts have been moved, sometimes by licensing and sometimes by less-than-helpful law changes, particularly in the UK.”” … “Ben says that the UK is the English-speaking state whose public libraries are most adversely affected by eBook pricing and restrictions:” … ““Overall, the UK has the least attractive licence terms, the highest prices, and the lowest availability.”.
  • Let’s stop saying that libraries are more than just books – NoveList. “I have a problem with that sentence, “Libraries are now about more than just books.” Every time I hear it, what I hear is “books aren’t really that important.” Then the follow-up thought in my mind is: “I guess this other stuff the library is doing is way more exciting.” It makes the value of books seem so very small and perhaps even irrelevant. “
  • Libraries Hub – Libraries Week. “In 2021 Libraries Week celebrates how libraries support active and engaged communities. Visit our ‘Get Started Guide’ to explore our marketing and publicity toolkits and download posters and social graphics in four eye-catching designs to showcase how your library is Taking Action and Changing Lives. Discover editable posters and social graphic templates via the links below.”
  • Marketing the Library webinar 1: Campaign planning – Libraries Connected. Wednesday 21 July, 11am to 1pm. “This is the first of three webinars in our Marketing the Library project. It will take you through the seven key steps of campaign planning, answering the question ‘Why plan?’ and including identifying a target audience, producing clear messaging and measuring success.”
  • Oliver Dowden, be on the level about investment – Big Issue. “If you’re genuine about levelling up and making sure nobody is left behind, stop closing libraries. Stop shutting gateways to opportunity. If the £200m estimated cost for the new Royal yacht was awarded to UK libraries, it would just about take them back to the funding level they were at in 2010 before austerity bit. There is an estimated £8 return on every one pound invested in libraries. The more we put in, the more everybody gets out. In so many ways.”
  • Sustaining Professional Confidence in a Changing Work Environment – British Library. 15 July, 11am to 12 noon. “he continually shifting landscape for many has had an unsettling effect on our professional confidence with many feeling apprehensive about moving into the next phase. How will it feel working closely again with colleagues? How comfortable will the conversations feel? How can we challenge our limiting self-beliefs and regain our assertiveness ? This webinar is focused around giving you the confidence to look ahead positively with some reminders about communicating effectively as well as overcoming any barriers you may face.”
  • Why Britain’s economy can’t afford to lose the public library – Big Issue. “Nick Poole reiterates the importance access to books and information, making the economic case for the UK’s libraries”

International news

  • Australia – Managing a Library Service through a Crisis: Part 1 -The Governance – Jane Cowell. “This is a story of a library service responding to a crisis in four parts. Part 1 is The Governance (this post) as a government corporation we must have a sound basis for our decision making and also who can make what decision. Our Communication (Part 2) in a crisis was essential, both with staff and with our communities and supporting and managing the Staff (Part 3) as another critical response to the crisis. The Work (Part 4) that we undertook also had to respond to the immediate situation our communities were facing and respond to their actual need in ever changing times.”
  • Global – Lighthouse Sessions 2021 – Public Libraries 2030. “Over the month of June, we hosted sessions focused on civic participation, democratic renewal and innovation in libraries. We welcomed various guest speakers over the course of these sessions to gather their insights into how libraries can develop new activities. “. Videos of 3 talks.
  • Iraq – Thousands of great literary works donated to Mosul library that was destroyed by ISIS – National World. 2 000 title donation “British artist and author Edmund de Waal’s library of exile was displayed at the British Museum until January and remained there during the height of the pandemic until transportation to Iraq could be arranged earlier this month. The acclaimed installation featured the works of almost 1,500 writers from 58 countries forced to leave their countries of origin for political reasons. Readers at the Iraqi institution’s famous College of Arts will be able to browse through the pages of literary greats – from the ancients Ovid, Voltaire and Dante to the more contemporary, including the Chinese poet Ai Quing, Hannah Al-Shaykh from Lebanon and Samar Yazbek from Syria.”
  • New Zealand – Auckland Council to remove library overdue fines from 1 September 2021 – Our Auckland. ““We’ve been researching and building the case for the removal of library fines and although fines were introduced to encourage returning of borrowed items, they have evolved to become barriers to equitable access to information and lifelong learning. Libraries who have removed the fines have experienced greater rate of return of items borrowed and membership growth,””
  • Poland – An unusual place in Marszałkowska. In this library you can listen to music, play games and bake a cake – R and R Life. “A unique place has opened in the Śródmieście district of Warsaw – a library where you can bake a cake, spend free time with your neighbors, listen to music, play on the console or board games. “We are destroying the biggest myth about libraries – we don’t have to be completely silent,” said Alexander Ferenc, mayor of the district.”
  • Singapore From Idea to Exhibit: A Curator’s Musings – Medium. “The National Library and Public Libraries were, and still are, a large part of the lives of many Singaporeans. Many grew up borrowing books from the libraries and spending their leisure hours there. However, not many people are familiar with the fascinating journey that our libraries went on to get to where they are today. Many stories can be found within our libraries, but we think it’s time to tell the libraries’ story.”
  • South Africa – The Hot-Spot Library Was Born In Two Shipping Containers In A Cape Town Slum – NPR. “Built around a pair of aging shipping containers, it may not look like your conventional library. But for the residents of Scottsville, a neighborhood torn apart by drug abuse and gang violence, it offers a safe space to escape the harsh realities of daily life and to explore different worlds in the pages of thousands of donated second-hand books.”
  • UAE – UAE-based global non-profit foundation to deliver 15 libraries to refugees and children – Gulf News. “Under the joint project, Kalimat Foundation will deliver 15 libraries, each containing 100 Arabic language books. “
Barack Obama says libraries have been very important for his life

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Birmingham stabbings: Man admits Jacob Billington killing – BBC News. “University library intern Jacob Billington, 23, died and seven others were injured in five separate incidents in the early hours of 6 September.”
  • Borders – Libraries set for early phased reopening – Southern Reporter. “Four libraries – in Galashiels, Hawick, Eyemouth and Peebles – will reopen on a phased basis with limited opening hours to measure public demand for the services.” … “Visits will be limited to 20-minute slots “
  • Bristol – Bristol City Council cuts library books budget by £30K – Bristol Post. “Campaigners have criticised Bristol City Council for cutting £30,000 from its library books fund. The money, which is just over five per cent of the £560,000 reading materials annual budget, is being redirected to help pay for a new regeneration service.”
  • Caerphilly – Caerphilly Libraries Service ranked in Wales’ top three – Wales 247. “Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Libraries Service has been ranked in Welsh Government’s Ranking Table as joint 3rd place, of all 22 local authorities in Wales. The Ranking Table is based upon the results from an all-Wales assessment for 2019/20”
  • Coventry – 1,000 free copies of the 2021 International Booker Prize winner delivered to libraries across Coventry – Coventry Observer. “1,000 free copies of the 2021 International Booker Prize winner All Night All Blood is Black are being delivered to libraries across Coventry as part of the UK City of Culture. The Big Coventry Booker Read will bring the city together in a ‘virtual book club’ to read and discuss the winning novel this summer.”
  • Denbighshire – Denbighshire Libraries Open Up for Browsing Again – News from Wales. “They will still need to make an appointment to use a library computer, book a study space and to access One Stop Shop services by phoning their local library.”
  • Devon – From Exmouth with love: lockdown quilt inspired by books – Exmouth Journal. “A quilt made in Exmouth and inspired by a love of books and reading is going on tour around libraries in Devon. The quilt has been created by Exmouth & District University of the Third Age (u3a) members and depicts shelves of books and a curious cat. 
    It took 12 quilters 80 hours of work to design, cut and stitch. The beautiful quilt will tour libraries over the next year and it will be raffled to raise money for Libraries Unlimited.  Raffle tickets will be available in libraries and online.”
  • Glasgow – Mike Dailly: Glasgow communities won’t give up their local libraries – Glasgow Times. Behind paywall.
  • Isle of Man – Isle of Man Family Library could be given one year reprieve – BBC News. The family and mobile libraries on the Isle of Man could be secured for a further year after the Treasury agreed to consider providing funding. Those behind the facilities had said closure was being considered after a government grant ended in April 2020. Minister Alfred Cannan said a further £125,000 would be provided “on receipt of an appropriate business case”. The funding would be to ensure the running of the mobile library for a further 12 months.”
  • Peterborough – New Peterborough BookBench sculptures installed across city – Peterborough Telegraph. “The trail, produced by Wild in Art and led by Peterborough Reads from the National Literacy Trust, launches this week in museums, shopping centres, cultural hubs and libraries across the city. Over the past year, 11 local schools and six artists have been busy designing the benches, taking inspiration from a wide variety of topics, including outer space, chickens, Mr Men, fairytales and the travels of Paddington Bear.”
  • Reading – ‘Tired’ Reading Central Library could move location – Get Reading. “A council report said the library “does not currently provide an attractive environment for customers, despite the ongoing best efforts of library staff and piecemeal changes over the years”.” … “It is one of the busiest council buildings in Reading, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors a year pre-Covid, providing services over three floors and generating more than £300,000 per year in income. The library, which is on the corner of Abbey Square and Kings Road in the town centre, opened in 1985 and has never had a full refurbishment.” … “It has set aside more than £1 million in its capital budget to either refurbish or create a new central library in Reading.”
  • Suffolk – First look inside town’s newly-revamped library – EADT. “Saxmundham has unveiled its newly-revamped library – which promises to be bigger, better and more modern than ever before. The site, which is part of the Saxmundham Hub, boasts more up-to-date facilities and greater space for community activities. There is also a new children’s section, new books for people to read and fresh carpets and furniture.”
  • Swansea – You can now pick up free Covid lateral flow tests from Swansea libraries – Wales Online.
  • Warrington – Padgate Library officially open – Warrington Worldwide. “The plans for the £142,000 redevelopment were produced by Warrington Borough Council and LiveWire – which manages the Insall Road library – in conjunction with a working group made up of members of the local community and the Friends of Padgate Library group.
    Priorities included making the library frontage brighter and more attractive to make it feel safer, especially in the winter months.”
  • West Sussex – Chichester Library to undergo four months of conservation work – Chichester Observer. “The work will see the concrete ribs renovated and the original windows refurbished, as over the years water has seeped into the concrete building and caused the internal steel to rust and expand leading to ‘spalling’ which forces the concrete off. The original windows also need an overhaul to improve the way that they work, the council said.”
  • Wirral – Public consultation begins on Wirral Library Strategy – Wirral Globe. “aims to deliver an attractive, relevant, modern and flexible library service.”

“Not enough”

Editorial

Public Libraries News has always included pertinent news stories from the library sector outside of the UK. This is not just because international happenings can inform us about great new ideas we can adopt. That is important but nope. Rather, I am aware that someone once said something to the effect that the future arrives in different times at different places and in different flavours so by looking at what is going on elsewhere, we can gain ideas about what may happen here. It also reveals possibilities like, for example, the current USA moves towards forcing publishers to allow libraries to lend e-Books – which is something every librarian here who has to explain why they cannot get anything digital from Hachette knows the importance of.

But it is entirely possible to go through a career in a British public library, even at senior levels, and not have any dealings or awareness of what is happening to colleagues abroad. This means mistakes are made that could have been avoided if experiences beyond our shores were taken into account and it also means best practice can be a parochial, rather than a truly global, thing. Which helps no-one. So, let’s applaud those librarians who look beyond our borders, like Ayub Khan, interviewed below and let’s, at least, think about the abroad, even if at the moment we unfortunately cannot physically go there. Bags I the first trip to New Zealand.

So, what is IFLA?: A short interview with Ayub Khan

What is IFLA?

The Euro 2020 football tournament is taking place as I write my answers – so let’s be topical and say IFLA is a bit like a FIFA for library associations. IFLA stands for the International Federation of Library Associations. It is the leading body representing the interests of library and information services – and their users – around the world. Founded in 1927, IFLA now has more than 1,500 members in 150 countries. That’s quite a squad.

What is your new role within IFLA?

I am one of five Governing Board Members – all from different countries – and responsible, in a nutshell, for the direction and future wellbeing of the Federation. I am delighted and honoured to take on the role, which complements me chairing CILIP’s Working Internationally Board.

How does IFLA impact UK public libraries?

The honest answer is ‘not enough’. UK libraries are well-regarded around the world and known for innovation. Yet their staff have not come forward in numbers so far – hence IFLA involvement and impact are relatively limited. We hope to change that. IFLA provides opportunities to share ideas, experiences, good practice and innovation on a global scale. It’s a chance for like-minded library professionals, wherever they are based, to learn from each other – which has to be a good thing. Also, there are some topics that need to be discussed across borders, such as e-books, e-licensing and e-copyright.

Why should British librarians care about what is going on outside of the UK?

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted what an interconnected and interdependent world we live in. Co-operating and collaborating across boundaries and borders seem to me to be essential for making progress towards solving global problems like the current pandemic or climate change.  Whatever sphere we operate in, and however we view political systems or regimes in other countries, I think we have to focus on the similarities between us – not the differences. IFLA believes that Together, we can build a strong and united library field, powering literate, informed and participatory societies. Hooray for that.

How can anyone interested get involved in IFLA?

There aren’t really any barriers because CILIP is a member organisation. There is an  annual conference – happening online this year – which anyone working in libraries is welcome to join for a modest fee. There are also annual nominations for various committees, including public libraries. IFLA also provides lots of free, online resources.

What’s the best way of standing a chance of attending an IFLA conference?

Under normal circumstances IFLA conferences take place in a different country each year – so there are travel costs. However, the 2022 and 2023 conferences are in Europe, which will help. Occasionally there are bursaries available for potential delegates, particularly if they are presenting a paper. I’ve been to several conferences, over the years – sometimes combining the trip with a family holiday – and attendance has certainly been a big part of my professional development. I think of the conference as a team-building training camp for international players – to help them develop game-changing skills.

Governor Ayub

Changes by local authority

National news

  • £1.1m for Museums and Libraries in Wales – Wales 247. Welsh Government’s Transformation Capital Grants: “Five libraries will be modernised with the funding going towards new community facilities, and supporting the establishment of wider ‘hubs’ where people can access library services alongside a range of other amenities”: Includes Treorchy and Rhayader.
  • Entries for SLIC Award Open – SLIC. “The Scottish Library and Information Council is delighted to announce an annual Award for the library sector in Scotland. The SLIC Award will celebrate the talent, innovation, and achievement of library teams throughout Scotland.”
  • LGA – Library investment key to helping children catch up following pandemic – LGA. “Libraries have a vital role to play in helping to build back the country following the pandemic with many already supporting children to recover from missed classroom time and helping to plug the widening attainment gap.”
  • The moral obligation for interlibrary lending – Birmingham City University. “The moral duty of a librarian is that access to information is maintained and resources are shared for the good of society as a whole.”
  • Trustee opportunities – Reading Agency. “The Reading Agency is seeking new Trustees with a passion for reading, and the positive impact that reading can have, to join our Board.”

International news

  • China – A natural library – Designing Libraries. “Zheshui Natural library is inspired by this traditional construction method, and the building is attached to the rock face. The river runs along the other side of the structure, and there is even a tree growing through the roof.”
  • Finland – Designing a new heart for a small city – Designing Libraries. “Kirkkonummi is a small town near Helsinki built around its medieval stone church. JKMM Architects has transformed the old city library facing the church to create a new civic centre.”
  • Global – Library Fires Have Always Been Tragedies. Just Ask Galen – Jstor Daily. “The three lost libraries Galen describes, all located in close proximity to each other on Rome’s Palatine hill, shared some important characteristics. In a world without printing presses or photography, a crucial function of imperial public libraries was to safeguard authoritative versions of important texts—ideally the original manuscripts—that scholars like Galen could consult and copy with confidence. Some texts were stored in special collections assembled by a notable individual, while others appear to have been shelved by subject. Galen boasts of finding inconsistencies and errors in the catalogues used as finding aids, suggesting that patrons were free to browse shelves on their own, without a librarian’s supervision.”
  • USA Why more public libraries are doubling as food distribution hubs – The Conversation. “The earliest example of this kind I’ve found dates back 35 years”. Survey of current feed and read schemes in the USA.

Local news by authority

Some more on the SDP

Editorial

My thanks to Liz White of the British Library for answering my many questions about the much-awaited Single Digital Presence below. In other news, there’s a couple of possible new cuts (Bolton and the Isle of Man), a library closed for reapirs, and two stories of closires/co-locations from Scotland. But, frankly, we’re all waiting for what Mr Johnson announces tomorrow and whether children’s events in English libraries this August will be a thing or not.

Changes by local authority

Some more on the Single Digital Presence

Liz White from the British Library very kindly answered a few of questions on the project below:

Can, or will, library catalogues be searchable directly from the proposed SDP. So, if someone types in the author and book title, all the nearest library copies (print and ebook) are shown, with a link to how to search? 

Earlier user research has shown that people are most interested in what loan copies are held by the libraries closest to them and part of the next phase of development will be to determine what kind of search functionality is most beneficial at national and local level and then how to deliver this. Having a shared national platform where freely-available content can be shared will also help understand the further potential for inter-library lending although there would be a number of issues to work through across sectors before this could become a reality.  We are able to learn from the purchasing models and user journeys offered by consortia already, for example Merseyside, Greater Manchester and The Library Consortium in London.

Will any e-resources e.g. Britannica, Ancestry, be available on it? This isn’t in scope at the moment but users starting out on the national pages will be able to find out how to access the online resources held by individual public libraries (and then access these via existing systems)

Will the website be able to direct to a local library service, and, if so, how? This is a really important part of the development, to ensure that there is an easy and user-friendly navigation between the two which is intuitive – there has been some user testing undertaken already about the attractiveness of postcode searches, but more will be undertaken to map out possible user journeys between national and local in the next phase.

What sort of content is being expected to be uploaded? The first step is to work with libraries and stakeholders to develop the content strategy for the site, alongside branding. However it will in essence: showcase what libraries and Librarians are doing today; connect people to their local library branch and service; surface great content created by and with Librarians and library staff; share recommendations and opinions from the community of Librarians (of interest nationally, trending, seasonal and thematic); enable location search with map-based results; use tried and trusted common web technology, accessible to all and easy to update and, finally, provide a vehicle to communicate unified national campaigns, issues and activities

What is meant that it is “not a website”? We describe the SDP primarily as a platform rather than a website as it will host and curate content from many different users and will enable connectivity with and between libraries and users. As this project is something new and different there are no direct comparisons we can make with existing services, however Youtube is one high-profile example of this kind of model (although very different in terms of scale and content!). The SDP project is also a wider programme of change, as the funding is supporting development of local web presences, and it is about the connectivity and joint communications between local and national rather than a single website solution.  We hope to make a live product available by the second year of the programme, so that we can test and iterate ideas based on feedback.

How long until it is available for the public to use? Yes it will be mobile optimised, but SDP is a wider programme of change, as the funding is supporting development of local platforms, and it is about the connectivity and joint communications between local and national rather than a single website solution.  We hope to make a live product available by the second year of the programme, so that we can test and iterate ideas based on feedback.

National news

British Library Single Digital Presence Update – CILIP. 24 June, 12.30. “Staff members from the British Library will give a presentation on the Arts Council England and Carnegie UK Trust funded ‘Single Digital Presence’ project. The project began in 2018 to explore digital transformations in public libraries and what a national online presence for the sector could look like. We have recently reached the end of the project’s research and development phase. As well as explaining its drivers, methods and findings, we will also outline the next steps for development and answer questions from attendees.”

  • British Library to open seven new business support centres in North East – Business Live. “The network has had a centre at Newcastle’s City Library for a number of years, but Government funding has allowed it to set up more than 80 new sites, including seven in the North East. BIPCs will be established in Hexham, Morpeth, Berwick, North and South Tyneside and Sunderland. A new regional centre will also open at Stockton Central Library, with potential to extend across the Tees Valley to local libraries in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.”
  • Featherbed Tales – Included here because it’s possibly the sweetest thing I have heard this year. A small child provides the narration for a picture book for her grandparents. This is a service currently being trialled in Suffolk. “Little Emily’s grandparents said “This is wonderful! It’s really effective.  It was as if she was there reading to us.  It was a real surprise to us as well”. “
  • FestivIL Award – Medium. List of nominees for information literacy awards, with their projects. ” for a member of the IL community who has been a local hero supporting, leading or inspiring colleagues or library users in information literacy during the last 12 months.”
  • Five questions with… Festival of Libraries – Arts Council England. “From the 9-13 June 2021, Manchester City of Literature are running Festival of Libraries – 80 free online and in person events across every Greater Manchester borough. The festival, which is supported by Arts Council England, showcases a vibrant programme covering wellbeing, culture and creativity, digital and information and, of course, reading. We caught up with Jo Flynn from the festival to discuss how everyone can get involved, how they’ve adapted through the pandemic, the role libraries can play in bringing communities together and her hopes for the future. “
  • ‘The Future is Phygital’ – Libraries roundtable – CLOA. Please God, don’t let that term catch on. ” explored how library services are building on the innovation during the pandemic to develop a ‘three channel’ service (digital, physical and outside the walls) to provide maximum engagement and impact for users and contribute towards local strategic priorities.”
  • The Great Outdoors – Libraries Connected & St Helens Borough Council Library Service Webinar. “As libraries begin to navigate their roadmap out of lockdown and with more authorities than ever thinking about utilising outdoor spaces to remain Covid-19 compliant, Alan Lane from Slung Low explores the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities that programming, hosting and staging activities outdoors present.”
  • The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit: Books and Reading Supporting Mental Health – West Midland Readers Netowrk / Eventbrite. 17 June 2pm. ” explore the relationship between our various reading offers and mental health”
  • ‘Libraries saved my life’, says Lowborn author Kerry Hudson – BookSeller. ““I am extremely grateful to be here to tell you how essential libraries have been to me in my life. Mine is a happier ending than I could ever have imagined for myself, for a kid from a background like mine. And that is thanks to libraries. It is thanks to librarians. It’s genuinely no overstatement to say I don’t think I’d be alive today without libraries.””

International news

Local news by authority

“On Saturday (June 5) trade unions and local communities came together in a rally in George Square in central Glasgow. It was the first time in several weeks of campaigning against the closure of libraries and other venues, that the various action groups had come together in at united display of anger at Glasgow City Council – and their ‘arms-length’ cultural body Glasgow Life. Their strength was emphasised by their keeping the weekly read-ins and picketting going at the local libraries under threat, while the rally proceeded. There was visible support from local branches of trade unions such as GMB, Unison and UNITE, as well as from Glasgow Trades Council.

Many see their activity as part of the long running national campaign against library closures and rundowns, with one activist displaying the logo of a similar campaign in Devon. She is Ruth Gillett of the ‘Friends of People’s Palace, Winter Gardens & Glasgow Green’ fighting to preserve a large area of Glasgow long seen as belonging directly to the people of the city. She welcomed a photograph being taken of their newly created banner, and told Workers it was made by artist Stasia Rice. Their representaive spoke at the rally before it marched the short distance to the City Council building. An umbrella campaign ‘Glasgow Against Closures’ has been set up to co-ordinate further action.”

Eddie McGuire, via email

Not a website: £3.4m for a Single Digital Presence announced

Editorial

It looks like good news for the much-waited-for Single Digital Presence for public libraries, with Arts Council England and the British Library announcing a £3.4m project to deliver a new platform, live to the public in 2022/3. What that platform actually will be is a bit less clear – definitely not a website, apparently – but rather a place where library services can upload content for all to see. I have sent a pile of questions (sorry British Library!) about the project to get some more information and I hope to report more fully soon. But the fact it is going ahead at all, with funding, is good news as it was first considered over a decade ago.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts Council announces £3.4million to support public libraries around the UK with online engagement, in partnership with the British Library – British Library. “This phase of the programme is funded for three years, with launch of the new platform expected in the second year.  During that time the British Library will investigate how the platform can be improved to make sure it continues to address the needs of library users in years to come.””
  • ACE announces £3.4m fund for national library website – BookSeller. “Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a £3.4m fund to get the next phase of the “single digital presence” (SDP), a long-planned national website for all public libraries, off the ground. The work will be conducted in partnership with the British Library, which is developing the new platform. The SDP aims to improve public access to the collections, exhibitions and online events of libraries around the country, and was first suggested in William Sieghart’s 2014 Independent Library Report.” … “This next phase will see a public-facing version of the platform developed and live-tested, with £1m of the funding ringfenced to help libraries in England upgrade their IT capabilities to be compatible with the platform.” … “It will host library-curated content and services, promoting two-way traffic with local library websites and giving national visibility to local events and collections” … “launch of the new platform expected in the second year”
  • Celebrate your love of libraries with brand new festival – Oldham Evening Chronicle. “Manchester City of Literature’s inaugural Festival of Libraries, supported by Arts Council England, is due to take place from Wednesday 9 to Sunday, June 13, 2021. The Festival is a brand-new county-wide celebration of Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries, of which Oldham make up 12. A vibrant programme that highlights the Greater Manchester library network’s full offer, across wellbeing, culture and creativity, digital and information, and, of course, reading will be on offer.”
  • Celebrating innovation through CILIP’s new Changing Lives Seminar Series – CILIP. 21 July. ” a programme of virtual events celebrating innovation and thought leadership in the library, knowledge and information sector. Curated alongside our Diversity Networks and Community, Diversity and Equality Group (CDEG), the Changing Lives Seminar Series will invite ‘lightning talks’ from new and diverse voices in sector and a keynote from an established professional.”
  • CILIP Bang! Blowing the lid off the CILIP Yorkshire & Humberside committee – CILIP. 9 July 10am to Noon. Includes “Keynote Ian Stringer – CILIP Bang! Ian will share more about the international working opportunities he has had with CILIP”, including being held at gunpoint.
  • Community engagement solutions – Local Government Library Technology. “This briefing paper outlines the challenges public libraries face in reshaping their community profile. It highlights how emerging community engagement solutions may help target existing and potential users in repositioning public libraries and refreshing their services”
  • Get ready for Libraries Week 2021 – CILIP. “Taking place between the 4th and 10th October, the campaign will showcase how libraries are supporting local recovery, delivering services to meet the diverse needs of their community and helping to combat loneliness and improve wellbeing.”
  • In-House vs. Outsourcing Your Digitisation Project – What are the Pros and Cons? – TownsWeb Archiving. “Jess Sturman-Coombs at TownsWeb Archiving talked to Abby Matthews, Archive and Family History Centre Manager at Sutton Cultural Services, and Julia Parks, Project Manager at Signal Film and Media, about the alternative options available when it comes to digitisation.”
  • Libraries Connected Awards 2021: Nominations now open – Libraries Connected. “Has your library service increased engagement with your users? Improved existing services? Made your library service more inclusive? Created innovative partnerships?” … ” The awards are open to all except heads of service. We are looking for individuals or teams working in public libraries who have had a positive impact on the library service, library users or the local community. This could by introducing an innovative new idea or by going the extra to mile to provide an outstanding service.”
  • A Single Digital Presence for libraries – Arts Council England. “what if your library card also offered you a golden ticket to the collections, events, business support, exhibitions and more that other libraries across the country, indeed across the world, can offer? From your living room you could view those collections and exhibitions, take part in live events and activities and hear talks by leading thinkers and writers, all because you have that little plastic card. That is the concept behind the Single Digital Presence (SDP) for libraries, which, together with the British Library, we’ve been working on for quite some time now.” … ” it’s not a website. It will be a platform for uploading content which will be accessible to library services in the UK  as the programme develops. “
  • Tell us the Novel That Shaped Your New World – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected is creating a list of the 100 novels that readers have found escape, solace and comfort from during the pandemic and/or a book that has given them hope for the future.”

International news

Local news by authority

Essex, St Helens, Northants and the National Literacy Trust

Editorial

Potentially big news from Essex, with the new leader of the council saying that no libraries will close. This comes after the council announced that up to 25 branches could close or go volunteer back in 2018 and a substantial, and very well-organised, campaign movement being formed in reaction. The new announcement doesn’t rule out volunteers so campaigners there are still very much on the alert. Meanwhile, being two or three years earlier in their cuts cycle, St Helens council has launched a library review, noting a reduction in usage in the last decade and is actively looking for thoughts on/from alternatives such volunteers and parish councils to bridge the gap. Finally, Northamptonshire, has announced – reportedly with four days notice – that Kettering Library is being closed while it is having a GLAM makeover, with no substitute being as yet in place.

Away from service-related news, it’s great to host a short interview with Fiona Evans of the National Literacy Trust about their call for evidence on primary school libraries. Public libraries have very close links to primary schools and so I would encourage you all to consider responding by giving the Trust your thoughts. And also, the Trust are obviously on our side so we should be on theirs too. Time to reach out.

Changes by local authority

An interview with Fiona Evans, Director of School Programmes, National Literacy Trust

Fiona wants a word

Who are you and what is this thing you’re doing? 

The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our mission is to give disadvantaged children and young people the literacy skills to succeed in life. This year, we are working with Penguin Random House to look into the provision of primary school libraries through a Primary School Library Review. This project is looking into the role of primary school libraries before, during and post COVID-19 and will imagine what the future of primary school libraries could look like.  

To understand the current provision within primary school libraries and make recommendations to government, the Primary School Library Review is holding a call for evidence to gather views on this important topic from across the sector. The design of the consultation has been supported by a steering group from across the sector of; The Open University, BookTrust, CILIP, The Reading Agency, CLPE, School Libraries Group, and the School Library Association. The final report will be launched in the Autumn at an Literacy All-Party Parliamentary Group event.  

How important do you think reading is for children? 

We know that reading for pleasure is incredibly important for children; research has shown that children who enjoy reading don’t just do better at school, but have increased mental wellbeing among other benefits. In fact, OFSTED has recognised the vital role that reading for pleasure plays in improving literacy levels. School libraries are an essential tool in this. National Literacy Trust and Nottingham Trent University research found that children using their school library were more likely to read for pleasure and had better reading and writing attitudes – this difference was especially marked for those eligible for free school meals. 

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more so than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or income. Libraries are an important place to foster this lifetime love of reading, and will be crucial in the post COVID-19 academic recovery.  

Are primary school libraries totally paid for just by schools at the moment? Any other sources of funding? 

At the moment, there is no ring-fenced funding for primary school libraries, which means many struggle with adequate funding. One in eight primary schools don’t have a library, with this doubling in schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals. 

There are a number of initiatives that support primary school libraries, including Puffin World of Stories which is a collaboration between the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House. The project has supported over 200 primary schools so far, giving them 300 new books, bespoke training, audiobook downloads and colourful resources.  

How can public librarians get involved in the Review? 

We would love to hear from the public library sector about the ways that they currently work with primary school libraries, and any ideas they have about what the future of this provision could look like. So far in our call for evidence, we have heard from primary schools that work closely with their local public libraries, organising class visits and joint projects and would like to hear more about other initiatives and ways of working together.  

We currently have an open call for evidence, you can see the full scope here and either fill out this form or email your response to Policy@LiteracyTrust.org.uk.   

Is there anything else apart from this that public librarians should be aware of from the National Literacy Trust? 

If you want to hear more about our projects and resources then you can sign up to our mailing list here. You can also visit our website to find out more about our other research reports and work.   

National news

  • Building cultural infrastructure across England – Arts Council England. £5m Libraries Improvement Fund. “Libraries sit at the heart of our communities, providing a safe space for residents while offering services such as reading groups and back to work programmes. The Libraries Improvement Fund (LIF)  has a budget of £5 million  for 2021/22 which will help libraries to deliver these services and reach their local communities.  A grant could be used to refurbish a library to make it more suitable for delivering cultural events like plays and writing workshops, or health and wellbeing classes. Or it could support the improvement of library buildings by increasing baby-changing facilities or purchasing furniture or equipment.”
  • Building excellence in the cultural sector – Arts Council England. Bids for the Library Improvement Fund may benefit from taking into account this document on how to develop a capital project.
  • Library Campaign Zooms in on a Publicity Campaign for Libraries – Library Campaign. “Hear Nick Poole (Chief Exec of CILIP) talk about their advocacy work and National Libraries Week (4-10 October 2021) and then a general discussion about how friends groups can advocate / publicise libraries.”
  • Plea to save libraries as pandemic sparks new round of cuts – Express. “The crucial community hubs have been hit hard by a year of building shutdowns on top of slashed funding and staff cuts. Pressure groups last night said the situation is critical, with further council cutbacks of around 14 percent in the pipeline. Laura Swaffield, chairwoman of the Library Campaign charity – which fights to save the institutions – said libraries were more important than ever and battled to offer crucial services during lockdown.”
  • Public Library Work in a Pandemic – #uklibchat. Monday, 7 June 2021, 7.00 – 8.30 pm. Twitter conversation to discuss the impact of Covid, including reopening, anxiety, digital and the retention of new services when libraries reopen.
  • Quarter of libraries shut despite lockdown easing – BBC. “More than a quarter of Scotland’s libraries are still closed a month after they were allowed to reopen. And there is concern that some of the 123 public libraries across the country that remain locked will not return. Some have not opened their doors in more than a year, and many areas are only offering reduced or remote services such as click and collect.”

International news

  • China / UK – Push in UK to turn page on books ban – The Standard. “Hongkongers in Britain have launched a campaign calling for people to donate “banned books” in Hong Kong, which will be stored in libraries in the United Kingdom. The UK-based expatriate association group said many books can no longer be kept in Hong Kong public libraries after the passing of the national security law.”
  • USA – To patrons who place holds (and don’t pick them up) – Book Riot. “Even if a patron has lost interest in a subject after placing a hold on it, it still gives staff information about what people in the community are thinking about. “

Local news by authority

Tests of normality

Editorial

Quarantining of books takes a lot of staff-time so, with things stutteringly returning to normal, it is one of those things that library services will have to address. Due to the efforts of Libraries Connected, they have now been given the opportunity, should they feel safe enough to take it, of getting rid of quarantining altogether. It’s not going to be a clear-cut decision anywhere. though, as the guidance now says “books can be wiped down” rather than “should”, and that Indian variant is worrying. But it’s another vital step towards getting services truly back up to the way they were before. This, along with starting events and groups again, are litmus tests for normality.

The fines-free movement had a couple of steps forward this week. Gwynedd became the 23rd service in the UK to completely fines-free and a CILIP survey showed a majority of respondents in favour of getting rid of penalising borrowers for returning items late. Interestingly, the reasons put in favour of retention by respondents are either already questionable (e.g. people won’t return books if there are no fines – which has been shown not in fact to be the case) or sadly very true indeed (e.g. fines represent a vital sort of income, regardless of any other reason for them). Going fines-free was a big trend pre-Covid and it is another test for library services now to see whether it won’t just be “normal” that we return to, but also an improvement as well.

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Changes by local authority

National news

  • Changing Lives Seminar Series – CILIP. 21 July. “, a programme of virtual events celebrating innovation and thought leadership in the library, knowledge and information sector” … “We are looking for 4 to 5 speakers to each give a lightning talk at the seminar around the theme of Pride.”
  • Community engagement solutions for public libraries – Ken Chad Consulting. “Community engagement solutions for public libraries. Ken Chad and Sarah Bartlett. Local Government Library Technology (LGLibTech) Briefing Paper No.1. May 2021. This briefing paper highlights the challenges public libraries face in reshaping their community profile. It outlines how emerging community engagement solutions may help target existing and potential users in repositioning public libraries.”. Registration needed.
  • In praise of mobile libraries – Library data blog. “There may be alternative services like drop off points, book containers, home delivery, but they’re not actual libraries.” but “Many effectively have no online presence. Sometimes a PDF timetable, sometimes a phone number or email address to contact, but never comprehensive online information about them” … “I know there are plenty of services that think mobile libraries are expensive, inefficient, and smelly liabilities. That hardly have any users, and breakdown all the time. And when they need replacing (which they do) they haven’t got the money to do it because a replacement library isn’t part of their budget. But they’re great and they should be invested in”
  • Libraries and High Streets – DCMS Libraries. “We also know that libraries are part of the vital social fabric which brings communities together and we wondered about how libraries and high streets aligned. Regular readers will know our data travails, but we were really pleased to enable a piece of work by Dave Rowe, from Libraries Hacked which explores this very topic. Using newly released data from the Ordnance Survey and ONS, Dave has been able to look at the relationship between libraries and high streets with some fascinating results. ” … ” over half of high street destinations in England have a library and 65% of English public libraries are either on or close to high streets. “
  • Library Campaign Zooms in on a publicity campaign for libraries Monday 24 May 2021 19:30 -21:00 – Library Campaign. Anyone can attend meeting, not just members. “We’ll focus on following up the ideas that came up in April for a campaign to publicise libraries. The meeting will include a chance to discuss with Nick Poole, the Chief Executive of CILIP (the librarians’ professional body) what they are doing to advocate for libraries, and their plans for this year’s National Libraries Week”
  • Service recovery toolkit – May 2021 – Libraries Connected. “Some of the key changes are: Quarantine of books is no longer needed; Libraries may run group events and activities; Home Library Service can now enter people’s houses; Advice on handling cash as well as card payments”

“PHE do not consider there to be a need to isolate returned Library books for 72 hours. This is in line with the advice that shops do not need to isolate returned goods. Books can be wiped down if possible with a proprietary cleaning solution which is effective against COVID-19 (PHE cleaning guidance), especially if they have a protective plastic cover.”

Service recovery toolkit
  • Should libraries fine users for late return of books and other items? – CILIP. “The majority of those polled disagree with the concept of fining borrowers. There are some compelling arguments from other voters. There is no black and white answer to this question, the resulting discussion points are nuanced and multifarious. While most participants acknowledged some of the principles of having a fines system, ultimately the dominant opinion was that free access to libraries should be the norm.”. Just over 50% against fines, just over 30% in favour.
  • What Labour must do to get ourselves in a position to win: a four-step plan – Labour List, Alison McGovern. “The Conservatives in office have shut nearly 800 libraries since 2010. All those towns, villages, places around the country that used to have a small building where kids could do their homework and older people could relax and explore the world of books with a librarian to help. Gone. I think it is criminal.” … ” Children and young people today don’t need the libraries of the 1980s, to state the obvious. They need librarians who can help them with the world of both books and social media, and a world of research and creativity that would have seemed crazy to ten-year-old me in 1991.” … “. As my friends at Get It Loud In Libraries demonstrate, young people need places not just of books but where they can explore the kind of culture that libraries would have sniffed at even in my halcyon days.”
  • Working Internationally for Libraries – CILIP. “The project is funded by Arts Council England and will run in partnership with the British Library, British Council, and Libraries Connected. In its first phase, the project will focus on English public libraries to develop a programme of activities including grants & travel bursaries, an international conference, and a showcase of successful international projects.”. Webinar 2 June.

International news

  • Australia – Learning From Our Statistics – Public Libraries Online. ” An oft-neglected area of study in librarianship, statistical fundamentals are approached here in a simple rules format with examples. The purpose is to help librarians gather and use statistical information in new and better ways. “
  • Lebanon – Rebuilding Beirut’s libraries – CILIP. 15 September webinar. “after the August 4 2020 blast, libraries in Lebanon decided to brush off the dust, remove the rubble and glass, and tend to their injured staff and users. Librarians started looking into best plans for a return to service and the Lebanese Library Association joined them on the journey.”

Local news by authority

Summer library challenge

Editorial

Things feel slightly less certain this week than last, what with the Indian variant causing headlines, but public libraries are continuing the slow task of reopening. This is happening at different paces in different places – this is the UK public library service after all – but some problems are becoming obvious. The first, mentioned in the BookSeller, is that quarantining books is a bit of a problem now and will get to be a bigger and bigger problem as more people come in. And then of course there is the issue of physical regular groups and events. Some services are already tipping their toes into this water but if the Summer Holidays are as busy as normal (and it’s even possible, just about, that they may be busier – after all, foreign holidays are going to take a dip) then it’s going to be, at the least, a bit of a shock for the quarantining shelves just two months away. The rush to open on the High Street outside of library doors is also a concern for those library chiefs not wanting to look overly cautious. So, this summer is already presenting all sort of challenges, and not just the one that normally ends with certificates and medals.

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National news

  • CILIP NW Libraries Day and AGM 2021 – CILIP. 28 May 10am to 4pm. “This free event is open to all, both CILIP members and non-members. This event will showcase the creative ways that libraries in the North West have adapted during the last extraordinary 12 months.”
  • Cynhadledd CILIP Cymru Wales Conference 2021 – CILIP. 20-21 May. “oin us as we embark on our very first virtual conference to recognise and celebrate information professionals in Wales. This last year has been a strange one for everyone. We want to help demonstrate confidence as a sector, commitment to diversity, and impact and influence across communities, Wales and beyond. Our 2021 conference is packed with an exciting list of speakers to help inspire you to make a bigger impact. Thanks to the Welsh Government, CILIP Cymru Wales is delighted to offer bursaries to public librarians to join us at CILIP Cymru Wales Conference 2021.”
  • Freckle Report 2021: Digital or Diverse? The future of public libraries – Tim Coates. “The Freckle report 2021 includes survey results from the studies ‘Where did you get your book’ of April 2019 and April 2021. These show the picture of reading both before and late on in the period of the Covid 19 pandemic”. Covers USA, Australia and UK, £63.
  • I’ve been to the library – A Sense of Place. “I’ve been to the library, that’s my big news for today and it’s more than enough to be getting on with. I’ve been to the library.”
  • Library Campaign Zooms in on a publicity campaign for libraries Monday 24 May 2021 19:30 -21:00 – Library Campaign. “We’ll focus on following up the ideas that came up in April for a campaign to publicise libraries. The meeting will include a chance to discuss with Nick Poole, the Chief Executive of CILIP (the librarians’ professional body) what they are doing to advocate for libraries, and their plans for this year’s National Libraries Week”
  • Many libraries now open but 72-hour quarantine rule causing ‘huge pressure’ – BookSeller. “Library authorities say more than 90% of their facilities have reopened since lockdown eased, with nearly half offering browsing, though many have suffered “huge pressure” from a 72-hour book quarantine rule.” … “93% of libraries are offering PC access and have browsing at some or all sites while 45% have opened for browsing at all their buildings.”

“Libraries have operated this quarantine for a year now, and it is slowing down the rate at which materials can be lent as well as placing huge pressure on available space. Libraries Connected and DCMS have both been working with government contacts and PHE to explore whether this guidance can be revised or relaxed while maintaining the safety of library users.”

Nick Poole, CILIP
  • Shelf Love: Several Fascinating Facts About Libraries – BBC Radio Four. “To mark the documentary Late Returns, in which writer Nicholas Royle returns three library books – three decades after he borrowed them, we’ve collated some interesting facts using our own version of the Dewey Decimal System…”
  • Townscapes: The Value of Social Infrastructure – Bennett Institute for Public Policy. Mentions public libraries seventy nine times.
  • Universal Library Offers Project Manager – Libraries Connected. “The postholder will work with the Universal Offer Leads, supporting them to implement the plans, and will also oversee the creation of the annual plan. The postholder will also ensure engagement between Libraries Connected and the public library sector on the delivery of the plans.”. 14 hours per week.

International news

  • EU – 2021 NAPLE Forum annual meeting – NAPLE Sister Libraries. 20 May, 12 noon to 2. “Please join us for the NAPLE Forum 2021 where we will be discussing the impact of public libraries as we emerge from the pandemic period, and looking over the horizon to see what’s next for the public library sector in the next 12 months.”
  • Ireland – Firm sues over computer system contract for public libraries – Irish Times. “An unsuccessful tenderer for a multimillion-euro computer system for the country’s public libraries has sued over the awarding of the contract. Innovative Interfaces Incorporated, which was unsuccessful in tendering for part of the contract, has also obtained an automatic suspension of the awarding of part of the contract pending the outcome of its legal proceedings which were entered into the Commercial Court on Monday.”
  • USA – Why librarians are natural born detectives – Crime Reads. “Whether you’re looking for information about an uncle’s will or a homemade poison, the reference desk is the place to go.”

Local news by authority

Scottish independence and public libraries

Editorial

The local elections have shown a couple of things. The first is that the Conservatives are likely to win the next election, leading to the possibility of another decade of policies likely to minimise funding for local government, and thus library spending. The other is, as pointed out in coverage of Glasgow last week, how different things are Scotland. Libraries up there are in a different environment – although it may not feel like it in Glasgow – and may look forward, if independence happens, to funding on another level to that south of the border. However, if Scotland does go its own way then that’s a whole bunch of anti-Conservative MPs disappearing from the English parliament … and then heaven knows when the governing party will change down here.

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National news

  • F**k I Think I’m Dying: Claire Eastham on Learning to Live with Panic – Reading Agency. Tuesday 11 May, 7pm. Mental Health Awareness week free event.
  • International Booker Prize – Reading Agency. “Free digital packs are available to download from The Reading Agency Shop to promote the International Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction in your library. The packs contain promotion guides with ready-to-use social media schedules and copy, as well as assets and links to reading group guides”
  • Morrisons is giving away 50,000 FREE books to families – how to get one – The Sun. “The book is called “Cedric the Seed” and it will be distributed nationwide to local community groups and schools.” … “Morrisons has also launched a book donation and exchange station called the little library where children, teenagers and parents can take home any of the books available for free.”
  • Opportunity for refugees and asylum seekers to contribute to research on UK public library services – Hazel Hall. “Do you know or work with adult refugees and/or asylum seekers who have lived in the UK for 5 years or fewer? If so, please could you let them know about this opportunity to contribute to an on-going research project within the Centre for Social Informatics by completing a short online questionnaire”
  • Public Library Resilience: Innovations from the COVID Crisis – III. Thursday 20 May, 6am (3pm AEST), free webinar. “The health crisis has brought challenges and opportunities for public libraries. Even while buildings have been closed, libraries worked with determination and innovation to bring their services to users in new ways, reaching 3 out of 10 people (Carnegie UK Trust research). Innovative Interfaces has brought together two well-known thought leaders to discuss lessons from the past year, and opportunities for public libraries, in what promises to be a stimulating debate full of insights and ideas.”. [Including myself very early in the morning, and Roger Henshaw; Public Library Australia – Ed.]
  • The role of fines in the libraries of today – CILIP. Survey. “Abolishing library fines is something we have seen more public libraries adopt both here in the UK and abroad but it is something that some cash strapped public libraries are not so keen to follow. Public Libraries News have done a round up of some of the key pros and cons and recent initiatives but we want to hear your opinion on the matter.”
  • S4 Ep11 Arts Council England – Leading with James Ashton. Interview with Darren Henley. Says of libraries that ““love, cherish and continue to reinvent them”

International news

  • Australia – Leading Public Libraries for the new normal – Jane Cowell. “Library Managers across the world have been leading their service through a crisis.For my library service, with various branches in a number of different locations, staff with varying levels of technical skills, and a situation that was changing fast — sometimes multiple times a day — there were some key leadership priorities that enabled our library service to remain viable.”
  • Global – The most popular comics checked out from libraries worldwide – for kids and adults – Games Radar. “In the past 12 months, comics books and graphic novels were checked out over 15 million times from public libraries.”
  • New Zealand – Reimagining a new Nelson library as an ideas factory – Stuff. “What has dominated news coverage and clamour are two reasons some people object to a new library: The price. The location. We have been focused on problems, not opportunities.” … “clever thinking about what a library could be would make it a hub of our 10 innovative economies, and the centrepoint of a knowledge industry ecosystem for the community, and our overall economy. It would foster other supporting elements of an innovation economy to grow up around it.”
  • USA – Report Urges Library Leaders to Address Decline in Public Library Usage Stats – Publishers Weekly. “In a report published this week, veteran London-based bookseller, library advocate, and former Waterstones managing director Tim Coates warns that U.S. public library usage statistics show a steep decline—and he suggests that library leaders must do more to address the trend.”

Local news by authority

Glasgow, local politics, and a book exchange.

Editorial

Glasgow continues to dominate this blog’s local authority news, with a truly impressive amount of text from multiple sources about the leisure trust’s decision not to reopen a few of its branches. It is being used to attack not just local politicians but also Nicola Sturgeon herself, who until now has been a bit of a shining beacon of public library support. As mentioned last week, the coverage is notably more intense than a similar story would have been south of the border, ironically showing the national differences some of the politicians attacking her may not have wish to be highlighted. After all, I don’t remember Boris Johnson facing direct criticism for what happens in Croydon or Lambeth, for example. Having said that, it’s clearly a big thing in Bristol, though, as the local mayor made the point of given libraries prominent coverage in a paid-for news article.

In perhaps lighter news, a community book exchange has received major attention due to a bigot (or a comedian) protesting about some of the stock in it and there’s also a story from the USA about a chap with an extreme addiction to Summer Reading Challenge goodies. Hmm, I do like a good fridge magnet myself. Have a good week everyone.

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Changes by library service

National news

  • British Library Single Digital Presence Update – CILIP. 12 May, 12:30 online. £25+VAT for non-members. “Staff members from the British Library will give a presentation on the Arts Council England and Carnegie UK Trust funded ‘Single Digital Presence’ project. The project began in 2018 to explore digital transformations in public libraries and what a national online presence for the sector could look like. We have recently reached the end of the project’s research and development phase. As well as explaining its drivers, methods and findings, we will also outline the next steps for development and answer questions from attendees.”
  • Coming back greener – BookSeller. Nick Poole of CILIP. “Libraries are unique multi-functional spaces, offering comfort and respite while supporting a wide range of uses. We would like to explore how these spaces can co-exist more sustainably with their local ecosystems, communities and economies, using sustainable materials and local skills”
  • Intellitec – “Three former senior managers from Bibliotheca, Simon Peacock, Jim Hopwood and Phillip Sykes have now formed Intellitec. With over 50+ years’ experience in the Library Sector, Intellitec has been formed to offer advisory services to libraries. Intellitec would welcome enquires from any library service with a strategy to change or evolve or simply bring new ideas to their users.”
  • Julia Donaldson: ‘I worry some children will be unable to sing’ – Guardian. “While the reopening of libraries will be welcomed across the generations, their closure was a pressing matter well before Covid: in Donaldson’s role as children’s laureate from 2011 to 2013, she campaigned passionately against library cuts, writing articles, meeting ministers and (with Malcolm) embarking on a six-week tour of UK libraries. Her newest book in the Acorn Wood series, Cat’s Cookbook, is set in a library; Cat is looking for a recipe book, but is side-tracked by the many literary tangents on offer until she finds what she is looking for under the direction of Frog, the helpful librarian.”
  • The Library Campaign Zoom 24 April 2021 – Library Campaign. “The Library Campaign’s first online meeting discussed what the Campaign could /should be doing to promote and protect public libraries. Speakers include Laura Swaffield (Chair of the Campaign), Elizabeth Ash (Save Croydon Libraries) and Liz Miles (SOLE – Save Our Libraries Essex.)”

International news

  • Australia – Public libraries about ‘more than just books’, say South Australians fearing funding cuts – ABC News. ” negotiations were underway for a new agreement and, if it went ahead as currently proposed, it would mean “less books on shelves” and “probably less content online”. The SA Government would not be drawn on the topic, but simply said it allocated “significant funding to libraries each year”.”
  • Canada – Park Passes have arrived at WPL – Waterloo Public Library. “Each kit comes with a park pass, binoculars and nature guidebooks all packed in a cross-body pouch so you can take everything with you on your outdoor adventures. Kits are loaned out for 7-days. “
  • Finland – JKMM Architects extends 1980s library to create “public living room” for Kirkkonummi – De Zeen. “The studio doubled the size of the previous library and wrapped it entirely in a copper facade to create a counterpoint to the town’s medieval stone church.” – Church and library are described as the “heart and brain” of the town.
  • France – Building Knowledge: New French Libraries Designed for Cultural Exchange – Arch Daily. “France has built many new libraries across the country, buildings that embrace new technology, media, and collection formats. Combining mixed programs and civic amenities, contemporary libraries are rapidly evolving to meet modern demands and anticipate future trends. Libraries are one means by which architects and designers can make space for learning and foster cultural exchange, creating room for education and new ideas. The following work takes a closer look at libraries across France, building upon iconic examples like the National Library of France to ground new ideas on how shared values are discovered, reimagined and expressed.”
  • Global What do you want to share with the library field?  – Next Library. “Next Library Festival 2021 will be a free online event. It will run 24 hours on June 3 starting at 8 am (UTC+2) following the sun around the planet to the next morning 8 am (UTC+2). There will be keynotes, inspiration talks, participatory sessions, ignites, online happenings, The Next Room (drop-in-talkshows), singing, announcement of the winner of the Joy of Reading Award, surprises and much more. “
  • Pakistan – Roshan the camel brings books to Pakistan’s homeschooled children – Al Jazeera. “Raheema Jalal, a high-school principal who founded the Camel Library project with her sister, a federal minister, says she started the library last August because she wanted children around her remote hometown to continue learning despite schools being closed.”
  • USA – Aaron Yang: Voracious Reader Or Giant Pain To Librarians? – NPR. “There are more than 9,000 public libraries in the U.S., and Aaron Yang has been trying to win summer reading prizes from as many as he can. Not all librarians are happy about it.” … “By his count, he’s now contacted around a thousand libraries and acquired untold numbers of pencils, stickers and awards.”. Aaron is 20. “Thanks to one of his librarian fans, you can now buy a T-shirt online that reads, We Are All Aaron Yang.”

Local news by authority

Glasgow shows key differences, Cipfa fractionally improves

Editorial

The campaign against the cuts to Glasgow libraries are notable for a few reasons. First thing to note that, by English standards, they’re not actually all that bad – just a few closed, moved or made volunteer. That sort of thing would raise a few placards south of the border but not the big coverage that it is getting in Scotland’s second city. Cuts to public services are taken more seriously up there evidently, even though the Conservative protests about them should be taken with the pained ironic wince it deserves. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the cuts are not caused by the council but rather because the libraries are run by the local leisure trust, whose financial model has been temporarily wrecked by covid. If the service was run by the council then, presumably, the cuts would not have even happened. But, then, North Ayrshire is also going through cuts so maybe not.

The other thing to note this week, possibly with more pain than irony, are the Cipfa DCMS funded reports on how local library services are doing compared to each-other. Despite Cipfa being the sector by-word for slowness, disinterest and price-gouging, one has to admit that these comparator reports have improved slightly. Initially produced in 2012, back then one could only compare services with a small number of other library services – almost as if Cipfa was keen not to share data that it could otherwise charge through the nose for – but at least now one can see how each service is doing in comparison to every other library service in the country. It’s still out of date of course, and only four-fifths of councils bother contributing, but it is better than it was. We just need to wait now for the 150 councils to work together (and, even, gosh, share their data for free) and bypass Cipfa altogether but, until that happy day, this is probably the best that this supposed sector of information sectors is going to get.

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Changes by local authority

National news

  • DCMS funded Report 2020 – Cipfa. “Download the report comparing each English library authority that returned data (121 of the 150 councils in England have been published: report updated March 2021) with their family group, as defined by the CIPFA Nearest Neighbours Model.”
  • Libraries on the high street – Libraries Hacked. “With the OS high streets, and ‘good enough’ data on libraries I looked at how many libraries are directly on a high street: about 25%.” … “With the OS high streets, and ‘good enough’ data on libraries I looked at how many libraries are directly on a high street: about 25%.”
  • Library Campaign Zoom meeting 14 April 2021 Update – Library Campaign. “Among the points to emerge were: · All Friends groups are valuable, whether they are fighting cuts or supporting a service that isn’t in crisis. · Many groups produce useful material that could be shared. · The government (DCMS) has a legal duty to ensure good services … but doesn’t. · National library bodies seldom do things that library users see as high priority – such as… ·  Demonstrate that libraries are great value for money · Run a publicity campaign for public libraries, perhaps centred on social media.”
  • Pandemic shows how ‘digital by default’ government services exclude those who need them most – Business Reporter. “And with libraries closed many are more cut off than ever before. Indeed, people rely on libraries for online access – a place to search for jobs, answer emails, access educational resources and stay in touch with the outside world.”
  • Senior Lecturer to host online workshop in collaboration with BBC Arts and the British Library – FE News. “A Senior Lecturer at Leeds Trinity University has been invited to deliver an online games workshop and participate in a panel discussion as part of an event organised by Leeds Libraries in collaboration with BBC Arts and the British Library.”
  • Webinar for those planning events outside – Libraries Connected. 18 May, 1.30pm.
  • Working Internationally Conference 2021 – CILIP. 25 June. “The 2021 Working Internationally Conference explores ways of connecting with library services from across the world to inspire and inform your library service back home. A unique programme of panel sessions, presentations, and hands-on workshops draws on speakers from a diverse range of regions – UK, Europe, Canada, Africa, and the Middle East – to share best practices, spotlight new ideas, and showcase successful examples of international working projects. “

International news

Local news by authority