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Public libraries in 2019

Editorial

The turn of the year is a good time to review what has been going on, not least because I get a few days off. The following does not pretend to be comprehensive and will doubtless miss out on many important trends – if I included everything, it would be too long and no-one would read it – and of course represents a personal view.

The big news is undoubtedly the re-election of the Conservatives for another five years. Despite a small amount extra being promised to library services before the election – basically a bribe – the deep cuts to services since the party started it’s current run in power in 2010 more than make up for it. Although austerity has calmed down (although never gone away) in the last couple of years, the prospect of Prime Minister Johnson until 2025 and the impending disaster of Brexit, means libraries can only expect a continuation of the bad times. These cuts are the primary factor for a deep reduction in library usages over the past decade – they probably would have declined anyway a bit but the example of other countries suggest the hit would have been nowhere near as bad if budgets had not been cut by 30% without even taking inflation into account.

That’s the major bad news but the good news is the expansion in the number of library services going fines-free in the UK. Eight more services decided to stop punishung users for returning books late in 2019, with a notable concentration in the North West, more than doubling the number in the country. There are few librarians who still see charging everyone regardless of their ability to pay as a progressive step and, as more go fines free, more pressure and more evidence to follow suit. Fingers crossed.

CILIP have upped their game by launching major political campaigns with school libraries and the US-inspired Libraries Deliver. It’s work on ethics has been notably prominent. This is a good thing as ethics have tended to come last in local library services in practical terms. Few cash-strapped services, when push comes to shove, say no to commercial funding even from such dubious concerns as Amazon and Google. This extends to the very highest levels, with a senior delegation of library chiefs and others choosing this year to visit China – an unethical place for all sorts of well-known reasons – to boost links. China, by the way, is also a leader in pollution and, although environmental issues have hit the global headlines like never before in 2019, public library services have conspicuously failed to market themselves to benefit from being one of the greenest services out there. Mind you, being public library services have failed to market themselves in any way whatsover, for the 170th year running, this is not surprising.

ACE have been moving away from menacing libraries with far too many subsidised theatre shows and have instead become increasingly keen to promote, gosh, books and the other services that libraries provide. Recent pronouncements suggest that this trend will improve in the next few years and that is to be welcomed.

Libraries Connected, the revamped Society of Chief Librarians, is starting to make its presence felt. This has not been fast enough for me – I want national promotional campaigns and a prospect of a realistic single digital presence (a national libraries website is not asking much) before 2030, neither of which appear likely – but slow progress is being made and there is reason, like with CILIP and ACE, to hope.

The same cannot be said for CIPFA, which continues to provide lacklustre and late information on the sector at sky-high prices, even though it gets its data for free. The organisation – which has come out clearly against any open data or co-operative approach because, well, it can’t make any money out of it – is in clear need of a good kicking. However, until local or national library services come up with a viable alternative – not a certainty in a sector which often comes across as unified as a bag of screaming cats – then they will continue doing the job terribly and charging through the nose for doing so.

Locally, there’s a few library services doing particularly badly. The most spectacular have been the proposed library cuts in Essex. There as been a very strong grass-roots campaign against the reductions and some quite impressive gaffes by the council handling it. The council appears to have been caught wrong-footed by the strength of feeling and many of the councillors seem out of touch with libraries. It’s recent moderation of cuts is already being closely analysed.

There have been two notable library strikes. One, in Bromley, against GLL is over a number of different things, mainly boiling down to the union being entirely against the library service being run by a non-council service and unhappiness with how GLL is doing things. In Bradford, the reason for the unhappiness is more clear-cut, being simply over huge cuts to the library service while the council hypocritically and simultaneously is bidding to become a capital of culture.

There are many more examples of cuts to library services and bad management but the one that sticks in my mind the most is Derbyshire which has banned telephone renewals despite despite having staff, computers and, well, telephones. This “digital by default” strategy is the exact opposite of putting the customer first and hopefully will not be the start of a trend.

Changes by local authority

National news

“You were always there; a constant. A kind, supportive adult in times when I had few of those, who, if I asked you a question, would do your best to answer with kindness, patience and honesty. And when I was overwhelmed and confused because life seemed harsher than I’d imagined it could be, I would go to you and our brief interaction – one person being gentle to another, sharing a love of books that felt bigger than that small village with its big problems – would keep me going a bit longer.”

Kerry Hudson

International news

  • Australia – First library in Victoria to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week has town buzzing – ABC News. “People were asking for more opening hours, but we found almost 50 per cent of the community work more than 35 hours a week, so just increasing the opening hours wasn’t going to work,” she said. She said staff hours were not being cut and the library would continue to be staffed from Thursday to Tuesday, and closed on Sunday and Wednesday. The move to 24/7 access required a $92,000 upgrade, which has been funded by the State Government, with $20,000 from West Gippsland Libraries, and $3,000 from the Friends of the Foster Library.”
  • Canada – ‘Something special about libraries’: Hopes high for OPL fundraising campaign – CBC. “The Ottawa Public Library hopes to raise $10 to 15 million over the coming years as part of a major fundraising campaign for the new central library — not to pay for the bricks and mortar, but to ensure interesting things take place inside once it’s open.”
  • Ghana – 2020 Is ‘Year Of Learning’ — Ghana Library Authority Declares – Modern Ghana. “The Ghana Library Authority has declared 2020 as the ‘Year of Learning,’ under the theme “70 years of Transforming Minds through Libraries,” in commemoration of its 70 years of existence. Ghana Library Authority is the second oldest incorporated institution by an act of Parliament of Ghana and has the mandate to establish, equip, maintain and manage public libraries in Ghana. “
  • USA – A year after Denver Public Library ended late fees, patrons — and their books — are returning – Denver Post. “Thirty-five percent of patrons with overdue fines who had stopped using Denver Public Library services have re-engaged with the library since the fee cancellation … Denver librarians have seen a 10% increase in lost materials being returned from 2018 to 2019 … The change has not resulted in a free-for-all.”

Changes by local authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – ‘No questions asked’ book amnesty being held in Bath & North East Somerset – Bath Echo. “The council removed fines for the late return of books in April 2019, but is now inviting anyone who still has books borrowed before that date to return them from 6th January as part of a book amnesty. Books can be returned to the main libraries in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton or at one of the community-run libraries, and old fines will be deleted. People who think they have lost a very overdue book should talk to library staff who can remove it, and any fines, from their account and people will then be able to use the libraries as normal.”
  • Blackburn With Darwen – Library fines to be scrapped in Blackburn with Darwen – Citizen. Amnesty for outstanding charges too. “Councillors have been told that the projected fines income for 2019-20, based on current usage, is £7,750. This annual rate is said to have dipped by 25 per cent from 2016-17 – and is expected to decrease further in future. Cllr Talbot said: “There is some evidence to say that having outstanding library fines or overdue books is an obstacle which makes people fearful of going into our libraries. ” … “Several other north-west councils, including Blackpool, Halton, Leeds, Oldham and Salford, have already opted to scrap fines. “
  • Blackpool New Year honour for Blackpool couple who have transformed children’s lives – Gazette. “Also in line for an award is Blackpool Council’s head of libraries Mark McCree who has been given a BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to public libraries. He said: “I am overjoyed to receive such an honour. I am passionate about the positive impact libraries and library services have on our communities.”
  • Bridgend – Trust announces changes to mobile library service in Bridgend area – Glamorgan Gem. “The mobile library service across the county borough of Bridgend is to be overhauled so that more vulnerable, isolated and housebound people can benefit from books brought directly to their door. From December 16, the existing mobile and Booklink vehicles will come off the road to prepare the routes. A new Books on Wheels service, with additional stops to people confined to their homes, will be launched from Monday, January 6.”
  • Devon – Fundraising campaign to fix library rocking horse – Radio Exe. “Libraries Unlimited, the charity which runs libraries in Devon, has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for repairs to a rocking horse.  Jubilee Beauty, has been at the library since 1977. But they say she’s now had one ride too many and is lame (broken!) She’ll now have to be fixed by a specialist rocking horse restorer. “
  • Essex – Manningtree Library campaigners to receive town council award – Yellow Advertiser. “The Save Manningtree Library campaign is to receive Manningtree Town Council’s Community Engagement Award. The campaign organised a number of events during 2019, with 500 marching through the town in April and hundreds more joining a ‘love our library’ street party in September. “
    • Call for scrutiny over new library IT system – Epping Forest Guardian. Councillor asks questions over system: ” “What is the platform the library management system is currently running on? Are we looking for something that is off the shelf or are we building it to specification? Who is going to develop it? Are we looking for packages that need to fit together? “
    • The council’s offer to community-run libraries – Essex Council. Lists what limited funding is available to those willing to work for free to run Essex libraries.

“I noticed that your update on PLN about Essex Council quotes a somewhat one-sided Bookseller article (the Bookseller then redressed the balance with a more recent article).  Your quoted article  emphasises ECC’s claim not to be closing libraries and the investment they are putting into a small handful of larger libraries (tho they won’t be libraries anymore) and computer systems. It does not cover their strategy to put the majority of Essex’s 75 libraries into the hands of volunteers by encouraging individual or group takeovers. The volunteers will have to pay for their own buildings, computers etc. They will have one ticket and will use it to go and drive and collect any ordered books from the Essex Libraries catalogue. There will be no professional staff. Essex Council offer is £18000 over three years, then nothing. ”

Liz Miles, library campaigner, via emial.

A record-breaking honours list for librarians?

Well, I was going to do a review of the year this post but that will have to wait as it’s just so great to see so many people connected with public libraries receiving a mention in the New Year’s Honours List. All in all, I count fifteen such people – all mentioned below, don’t worry – on the list. Whatever one may think of the honours system, it is lovely to see so many deserving people mentioned. It can only help those people push for libraries and be an aid to the sector generally. For more on this, see this post I did back in March for Libraries Connected on the subject.

Changes by local authority

New Year’s Honours

The following figures connected with public libraries received a mention in the New Year’s Honours List:

National news

  • ‘An early Christmas present’: NPOs get 1.84% funding boost – Arts Professional. “More than 800 arts and cultural organisations across England will receive a 1.84% increase to their funding in 2020. Arts Council England (ACE) CEO Darren Henley said DCMS has confirmed it will receive an extra £7.5m in the next financial year, giving National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) an above-inflation funding boost rather than the planned 0.4% reduction on 2019/20 levels of grant-in-aid.”
  • Christmas appeal: ‘School librarian cuts are a catastrophe for young readers’ – I. Tom Palmer: “Around 8,000 jobs have disappeared in UK libraries since 2010, some replaced by volunteers. One in eight schools do not have a designated library space, with a higher proportion of poorer children more likely not to have one.”
  • CILIP says libraries need £250m in demand to Johnson government – BookSeller. “Recent figures released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) showed funding for the service has fallen almost 30% during a decade of austerity, with analysis demonstrating library loans have plunged by 43% over the same period. CILIP called on political parties to make a commitment to libraries during the election campaign. It said the government’s planned £25m investment, through its Cultural Investment Fund, was “roughly one-tenth of the capital investment we need to deliver a world-class library sector over the lifetime of this Parliament”. An extra £250m would bring the funding close to its 2009/10 level of £1bn. The CIPFA figures show the sum is currently £744m, a slight improvement on the previous year.”
  • CILIPS in 2019 – Year in Review – CILIPS.
  • Jack Monroe: My manifesto for rebuilding a truly broken Britain – I. “Thousands of preventable deaths. 11,000 fewer firefighters. A 40 per cent cut in the number of Police Community Support Officers. 800 libraries closed. “
  • Library loans down 43% in 10 years, new analysis shows – BookSeller. “Analysing the full figures, which are not made freely available by CIPFA, together with past results, Coates said loans of printed books in English libraries stood at 150 million in the past year, adding to a total drop of 43% in the last decade and 59% since the turn of the millennium. There were also 371 libraries run by volunteers in 2018/19, up from 272 the previous year.”
  • New programme to help libraries to raise income – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected has been awarded £150,000 by Arts Council England to plan a programme of training and mentoring to help library services to develop strategic approaches to income generation. The Future Funding programme will be designed and delivered by Libraries Connected in partnership with expert partners from the public, third and commercial sectors. The programme will help libraries to generate income in new ways by using the skills and resources they’ve built up as centres of knowledge and information.”
  • Libraries Connected to launch income-generation funding scheme – BookSeller.
  • Rakuten OverDrive in buyout deal with KKR investment firm – BookSeller. “Investment firm KKR has signed a deal to buy digital reading platform OverDrive from Rakuten for an undisclosed sum. OverDrive is known in the UK for providing e-books to public libraries and has a worldwide network of 43,000 schools and libraries spanning 75 countries. KKR has a string of investments in related companies including audiobook firm RBMedia, which it bought in 2018, and Nielsen.”

International news

  • Canada – Radon gas detector kit wait list growing at P.E.I. libraries – Journal Pioneer. “Despite only being made available starting in late November, there is already a 74-person waiting list to access one of the devices. Each of the 15 units available can be signed out for a maximum of six weeks. Which means some people could be facing a wait of up to eight months. “
  • USA – Ten Stories That Shaped 2019 – LIS News. “1. Whither Late Fees? The movement to end library late fees seemed to reach the start of a tipping point this year. Whether or not your library continues this practice, it should at least justify the current policy in place.”
    • Island libraries eliminate late fines – MV Times. “Joining a movement across the country, all Martha’s Vineyard libraries will eliminate overdue fines for materials starting Jan. 1, 2020 for a fresh start to the New Year.”
    • Looking at Libraries – The Atlantic. A long look at the best US public libraries and activities. “Continuing the photo essay about public libraries, which showed many examples of children’s rooms and adult spaces, this collection shows some of the multitude of activities happening at public libraries. It also includes some of the kinds of collections besides books, and some of the public places where books are available to borrow besides at traditional libraries.”
    • Make Way For Books At Your Library – Princh. “As of right now, we have established a wonderful partnership with the Pima County Public Library in Tucson, AZ, focused around the Make Way for Books App. As an early literacy non-profit organization, we value libraries as one of our most important resources, providing support and equitable access to information for the community.”

Local news by authority

Looking forward to 2024

Editorial

So, Mr Johnson and the Conservatives have won a fourth term in office and will likely, gosh, be the government until May 2024. Putting aside Boris’s unlikely promise of investing in libraries even if his two conditions for it are met – the economy is booming and Brexit has happened – what does the electoral result mean for libraries?

Well, it means that there won’t be much extra money for a start. Say goodbye to whatever promises Corbyn made. After the dark days of cuts in the early 2010s followed by a still dark (but I fancy slightly less doom-laden) atmosphere in the last couple of years, we can expect things not to turn around any time soon. Best case scenario is the current low budgets for libraries remain stable. Worst case is, well, 2010/11 all over again. I’d probably go for the more optimistic (still quite grim) side of the scale on this one but being Boris is still an unknown quantity – who really knows what he believes? – so this is very much a guess. Terrifyingly, if Brexit proves a disaster, which it likely will, another wave of austerity is quite possible.

I suspect I am on far surer ground suggesting that councls cutting library services will be strongly encouraged to become trusts or other quasi-non council organisations. In addition, many councils are running out of money and so there may be quite an increase in trusts. This will at the least create a lot of extra work for the services being transformed and may or may not be good long-term, although it will certainly mean more entrepreneurship with all the good and bad that entails. We can also be fairly sure that volunteer libraries will continue to be lauded, although I know that many of them are now seeing the gloss come off because the first set of enthusiastic volunteers are leaving.

It is absolutely certain that there will not be any meaningful supervision of the sector and that such things as standards will remain a thing of the past. Also, sadly, and unless local councils get their act together with open data – doubtful – we can expect the ridiculously slow and income-driven Cipfa to remain the greedy guardians of performance data on the sector and fight any attempts to, well, do what their job should actually be (the quick and easy dissemination of data) because they are a monopoly and are determined to stay that way.

Finally, we can all stop pretending that public services, let alone libraries, are, in the final analysis, a deciding factor when it comes to general elections. If they had been, result would have been very different. We need to be prepared to leave or to work within the system that, over the last decade, has become increasingly tougher … and work in the service we still love and do such good work in until the bright promised future of post-Brexit UK(although who knows if Scotland will still be on board) in 2024 arrives. Ten years down, only another five to go.

Local news by authority

National news

  • Branching out – Wellston Journal. “In the last seven years one in six of all Wales‘ libraries have closed. A further 62 have changed hands and are now run either by outside organisations or with support from volunteers.” … “Llanelli library‘s building was completely renovated in 2012 and reinvented as “more of a coffee shop” than an austere library …”
  • Community and volunteer-run libraries – John Bevis. “There is no national strategy for the implementation of community or volunteer libraries. Councils may provide some professional librarian time, or none at all. Neither are there standards for range and depth of books, for IT provision, for a gateway to standard online reference works, national newspaper archives, links to the British Library… for any of the resources essential to meeting the obligation of library authorities to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service”, as has been law since 1964. Community libraries may be run by the nicest folk you could hope to meet, but what they have to offer is pot luck.”
  • Held to account – turning activism into political support for libraries in 2020 – Libraries Deliver. “For the first time in living memory, four of the ‘main’ political parties in England – the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats – all included references to libraries in their Manifesto commitments. ” [Strictly true but the Lib Dems only mentioned libraries as a place to collect sanitary products – Ed.]
  • Jamelia: I needed kids clubs and libraries growing up, so now I’m voting Labour so everyone else gets them too – I. “My mother ensured we participated in experiences that enriched our minds. Though money was tight, we were able to use public facilities such as kids clubs, libraries, nature parks, leisure centres and a school with a thriving arts programme. “
  • Truth, lies, fake news, futures, Brexit – Matt Finch / Mechanical Dolphin. “Rather than chasing untruths in the media like a dog chasing a passing car, could information professionals be seeking to tend and moderate deeply local conversations about where communities choose to go next? Libraries are an obvious place to host such discussions – that’s why earlier this year I proposed the public library as the setting for community-centred foresight work, putting sophisticated strategic tools in the hands of local people.”
  • World Book Night Goes Digital for 2020 – World Book Night. “This year’s list features both paperbacks and audiobooks, with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Double Crossed by Brian Wood and Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults edited by Lucy Mangan available for individuals to receive via an exclusive download code. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (which is celebrating a significant 42nd birthday in 2020) will be donated as both a paperback to organisations and an audiobook to individuals”

International news

  • AustraliaState Library Victoria proves libraries aren’t just about books: they’re about community – The Conversation. “State Library Victoria already holds a prominent place in Melbourne’s cultural and urban fabric. It is now ready for the future.”
  • Is reading an effective therapy strategy? Many experts think so – Sydney Morning Herald. “The concept is far from new, with Tsakalakis saying it can be traced back to ancient Greece. At that time, libraries were constructed next to hospitals. “And above the library there would be a banner or placard which read, ‘Places for healing of the soul.’ “So you’d go to the hospital for physical healing, and there was this understanding that libraries were places to seek solace and healing, and to nurture ourselves through stories.””
  • China China’s library officials are burning books that diverge from Communist Party ideology – Washington Post. “Library officials in northwest China recently hoped to demonstrate their ideological fervor and loyalty to the Communist Party by purging politically incorrect books and religious materials in emphatic fashion: They burned them. Then they uploaded a report — and a photo — to showcase their work.”
    • China to punish library officials for burning books – but only because they did it in public – Independent. “In October, the Ministry of Education called on school libraries across China to dispose of books “that damage the unity of the country, sovereignty or its territory; books that upset society’s order and damage societal stability; books that violate the Party’s guidelines and policies, smear or defame the party, the country’s leaders and heroes”.”
  • EU – Eblida and NewsGuard Announce Partnership to Bring Media Literacy Tool to European Public Libraries – Eblida / Newsguard. “The News Literacy Program, launched in the U.S. in late 2018, is now used by more than 600 libraries globally. While select library systems in the U.K., Germany, and Italy have joined the program since NewsGuard expanded to Europe in mid-2019, the partnership with EBLIDA will enable more libraries across the continent to use the anti-misinformation tool”
  • New Zealand New Zealand: Man Builds ‘stick Library’ For Dogs At Park, Lauded By Locals – Republic. It’s not a public library but it’s stil wonderful.
  • Norway – Oslo’s new main library – Designing Libraries. “Basement: cinema, 200-seat auditorium, freely accessible book depots. First floor: square, restaurant, café, newspapers, magazines, books for short-term borrowing. Second floor: fiction, history of literature, children’s section. Third floor: music, movies, comics, games, speculative fiction, workshops, recording studios, mini cinema, gaming rooms, movie screening stations, stage. Fourth floor: class rooms, reading rooms, books on art, architecture, health, technology, and science. Fifth floor: social sciences, history, psychology, philosophy, religion, literature about Oslo, the original Deichman collection, study desks, reading rooms, the art project Future Library.”
    • In Praise of Norwegian Libraries – Norway, One Year / Medium. “The library/culture house is a hub for community and a destination instead of an errand to run or a spot to grab books and pass through. Even towns like Hamar and Sandefjord have libraries/culture houses that seem rather ostentatious for smaller Norwegian municipalities.”
  • USA – L.A. libraries will stop collecting late fees for overdue books and other materials – Los Angeles Times. “Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday that the city will stop collecting fines for past-due books and other materials this spring, part of a larger effort to make the 73-branch library system more welcoming to the city’s neediest residents.”
    • No Holds Barred: Policing and Security in the Public Library – In the Library with the Lead Pipe. “For too long, the negative effects of police and security presence in libraries have been ignored or, at the very least, neglected. Police officers and security guards should be used judiciously just as one would use any other security tool available to library workers.”
    • U.S. libraries checking out book theft / ‘Most-stolen’ list will help curb crime – SF Gate. “The theft of books, CDs, videotapes and pamphlets from public libraries is a national problem, one that probably costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year. No one knows the size of the problem, but the American Library Association has taken a first step, e-mailing hundreds of libraries around the country and asking them to list their most-stolen items. “

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east bookworms invited to take part in reading challenge – Evening Express. “Readers can take part in the Winter World Challenge individually, together as a family or as a group of friends. It starts on Saturday and will run through the winter months, ending on the extra day of 2020, which is Saturday February 29. To start the challenge, bookworms should head down to their local library and pick up a challenge card.”
  • Borders – No more fines for late Borders library books – Border Telegraph. “The scrapping of fees is in a bid to entice new members to join a local library and to encourage previous members to return and use a library service again. Members with outstanding charges have also had their fees removed, but are instead asked to make a small donation to Live Borders who will use it to purchase food for a local foodbank before Christmas.”

“Removing fines will be a permanent change and our aim is to ensure that our libraries are there for everyone. By removing this barrier it will help more people to discover their local library and achieve our charitable aims of keeping everyone healthier, happier and stronger in the Scottish Borders.”

Lisa Denham, Connected and Creative Communities Manager, Live Borders
  • Calderdale Rastrick Library to temporarily close for final stages of work – Halifax Courier. “Construction work has been taking place to deliver disabled access to the building, including the installation of a new ramp and the creation of a disabled parking space.”
  • Cornwall – New library, local studies and archive centre in Cornwall – Designing Libraries. “A derelict brewery in Redruth Cornwall has been transformed into a modern archive and library space, with £11.7m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. “
  • Cornwall’s libraries let people pay fines with food – Pirate FM. “All food donated over participating library counters during December will then be passed on to local foodbank charities.” For fines up to £5.
  • Essex – Essex County Council denies ‘secret’ meetings with library takeover bidders – This is Local London. “Essex County Council has disputed claims that it held “secret” meetings with people and groups bidding to take over libraries. The authority held meetings for community groups interested in taking over the running of libraries … Campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) handed out leaflets outside the Greenstead and Ongar meetings to dissuade groups and individuals from continuing with takeover bids, which it describes as a ‘closure plan by stealth’.
  • Inverclyde – All food donated over participating library counters during December will then be passed on to local foodbank charities – Greenock Telegraph. “The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals [CILIP] sees such a move in the latest budget round as a ‘short-term solution that will create long-term problems’. In an open letter to council leader Stephen McCabe, CILIP Scotland has called on the cash-strapped local authority to leave the ‘vital’ library service alone as it wrestles with more enforced cuts. “
  • Leicester – Libraries staff choose their favourite Christmas reads – Leicester City Council. “Overall favourite amongst the city council’s libraries staff was timeless ghost story A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Also singled out for recommendation were The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs, Kipper’s Christmas Eve, by Mick Inkpen, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss.”
  • Merton — Sensory project transforms children’s libraries – Designing Libraries. “Visit one of Merton’s award-winning libraries and you could find yourself in the heart of the forest, under the sea or at the South Pole being chased by racing penguins.” … “Each of the borough’s seven children’s libraries has been transformed into an immersive space as part of a ground-breaking project to make them an exciting place for all children, whatever their sensory needs. Project Sense, as it’s known, is the result of a successful £95k bid by Merton’s libraries for Arts Council funding.”
  • NorfolkWhoops! Library accidentally reveals a secret – EDP 24. “Norfolk’s biggest library has accidentally revealed the latest chapter in its success story – it is the best in Britain. ” … “The post has since been removed.”
  • Northamptonshire £184k loan to parish council agreed to help save Moulton library – Northamptonshire Chronicle. “It will see DDC [Daventry District Council] provide the parish council with £184,000 to purchase the surrender of the lease, on the condition that the parish council then provides a community library for a ‘sensible minimum period’ suggested as 15 years.”
  • Torfaen – Volunteer encourages others to take part in Torfaen Libraries ‘Read To Me’ service – South Wales Argus. “The service is intended for people who are unable to take part in a shared reading group because they are prevented from doing so by ill health or disability. It sees reading companions visit them weekly, reading aloud to the person on a one to one basis. “
  • Warrington – The best read library books in Warrington – Warrington Worldwide. “Topping the fiction list for adults is The Second Child by Caroline Bond, which was a designated “Book of the Month” – showing how popular the initiative is in encouraging library users to try new books. Big name thriller authors like Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly and David Baldacci were other popular choices.
  • West Lothian – Campaigners lodge petition to stop local library closing in the mornings – Daily Record. “Library users in Craigshill have lodged a petition with West Lothian Council to plead for the saving of morning opening in Almondbank library. The petition was lodged as the council unveiled proposals to change opening hours across its library branches in a bid to save money.”
  • Wiltshire – Community Library Manager – Wiltshire County Council. Salisbury, temporary for 2 years part time 30.5 hours per week £26,999 – £28, 785 pro rata.
  • Worcestershire – Celebrating library volunteers’ role in supporting communities – Tewkesbury Admag. “From leading a Lego club or Health Walk, being a digital champion or volunteering to deliver the Library Service at Home, these are just some of the ways volunteers are supporting their communities. Each week dozens of volunteers gift their valuable time supporting our county’s libraries. This Thursday to recognise their efforts, Worcestershire’s libraries are marking International Volunteer Day 2019 by celebrating their contribution. “

It’s been a bumpy ride since 2010 and it looks like it will continue

Editorial

The timing of the CIPFA figures for libraries is normally embarrassing for something supposedly from the information sector. The figures are published, in this age of instant communication, a full eight months after the period they cover and have a hight cost attached, despite councils giving their information for free.

However, the timing this year, a week before the general election, looks inspired. The figures clearly show the damage that has been done to the sector since 2010: a huge cut to budget which, even leaving aside inflation, is almost a third down; big decreases to staffing, issues and visits. It’s an awful record for any government and there is nothing to credibly show that Mr Johnson would change tack if given, gulp, another five years.

But I’ve looked at the latest opinion polls and it looks like the electorate will give him another five years. So keep putting on the body armour, library sector, the bumpy ride is set to continue.

Changes by local authority

Cipfa reaction

  • Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show – Guardian. “Cipfa chief executive Rob Whiteman said that while spending had increased slightly in the last year, the figures showed a sustained trend where local councils on tight budgets had been forced to redirect funding to priority services such as social care.”

“We are encouraged to see that local authority spending on libraries rose slightly this year even though levels have fallen significantly over the past decade. We know we must do more to demonstrate to national and local decision makers how much libraries contribute to a range of outcomes from literacy, to health and social mobility. We are particularly concerned about the fall in book loans, which is why we’re determined to fundraise for more projects such as our BBC novels campaign that specifically targets people who are less engaged with books and reading”

Libraries Connected.
  • Latest CIPFA stats reveal library numbers still falling – BookSeller. “Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, said the newly released statistics were already “way out of date” and only highlighted the gloomier news about libraries. She said: “As always, the headlines highlight national decline – hardly surprising, with funding slashed, and hundreds of libraries gutted, closed or dumped on to volunteers. As always, there’s nothing to highlight the scores of services that still thrive despite it all, and nothing to analyse how they manage it. What a waste of essential data.””
  • ‘Libraries are the universities of the streets’: authors call for a stop to further closures – I. 35 closed 2018/19.
  • Libraries in the archive: snapshots of reading in Britain 1930s-1990s – Guardian. “The news that Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010 has prompted us to look back at images of libraries in the Guardian and Observer archives. These are a few highlights, with snippets from their original captions and related headlines.”
  • Nearly 800 public libraries closed since austerity launched in 2010 – Independent. “Spending has fallen by 30 per cent over past decade, figures reveal. Currently there are 3,583 libraries open in the UK – 35 fewer than last year and 773 fewer than in 2010, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has found. The closure of nearly a fifth of the UK’s libraries comes after spending has declined by 29.6 per cent over the past decade, figures from Cipfa reveal. National spending on libraries topped £1bn in 2009-10 before austerity began, but then dropped to less than £750m in 2018-19, the annual survey shows.”
  • These are the busiest libraries in Yorkshire after a decade of austerity cuts hit their budgets – Yorkshire Post. “The busiest libraries in Yorkshire were Harrogate, with 274,471 items issued, York with 263,082 and Sheffield Central with 235,886. The three most visited libraries – Central Manchester, Wembley Library in Brent, and Woolwich Library in Greenwich – continue to receive well in excess of one million visitors a year. The data released today also reveals how local authorities have redesigned library services in response to tightening budgets and changing consumer habits. “
  • The slow extinction of our public libraries is a quiet tragedy – Telegraph (behind paywall). “in collections, leisure centre upkeep, park hedge pruning: council tax-funded contributions for which I am grateful but cannot credit with bringing much joy to my life. The library rises above, then, as the great outlier – a place where you can read the latest bestseller for nothing or rent a film; use a photocopier, should you need one, or download an audiobook from the comfort of your own home. …”
  • Thousands of Welsh children took on the challenge to read during the summer holidays – Wales 247. ““Libraries in Wales are under more and more pressure, so it’s wonderful to see that over 37,000 children in Wales have taken part in the challenge at their local library this year, and this is a testament to the hard work of library staff across Wales.””

National news

International news

Local news by authority

“You may remember we took the decision to move from the old Carnegie building to the Children’s Sure Start Centre back in June 2019. In doing so, we were able to use the Dementia Friendly principles in design and layout. I have just done some evaluation six months on and it continues to be a great success. Visitor figures are up 21%, book issues up 47%, reservations up 87% (we consciously invested in a large number of new books), new membership is up 140%, we have delivered 61% more events as the space is more flexible and attendance as a consequence is up 95%.

We have been able to work with some partners in the new location because of the great facilities at the new site such as Barnardo’s. We delivered sessions to young carers, to prepare meals and network in a safe environment.  We were funded to deliver a six week Read and Feed program which was part of the Kirklees Youth Alliance “Holiday hunger” project. These sessions were to help families on low incomes prepare, cook and eat together, who could then reproduce the recipes at home.”

Kirklees Libraries via email
  • Leicester – Leicester libraries put on special events this Christmas – Leicester City Council.
  • Manchester – 27,000 children in Manchester don’t own a single book – Manchester Evening News. “The statistics come as libraries across the country continue to have budgets cut, with many services having to close completely. Last year, the M.E.N revealed that Manchester city council was spending nearly £8.5 million less on libraries than it did in the financial year of 2010 to 2011. At the time, the council said it was committed to providing an ‘excellent’ library service and used the refurbished Central Library as an example of investment.”
  • Moray – Moray libraries offering fun adult computer sessions – Northern Scot.
  • Newham – Opinion: Visit library and get lost in a book – Newham Recorder. “when I go into our libraries these days, the scene is very different; here, a small group of sixth form students chat over a project they’re working on, there, some carers talk as their toddlers play together. Libraries always were places of learning from books but now there are groups learning Yoga and crafts and meeting new friends too. Schools have regular visits to our libraries and encourage children, who, like most of us, automatically resort to a search engine to find out facts, to use books instead to stretch their minds in a different way.”
Northamptonshire – Kindly emailed to me, thank you Sarah.
  • NottinghamshireWorksop Library will not be fully operational again until next summer – Worksop Guardian. “Worksop Library may not be back to full working order until next summer as the clean-up from last months devastating flooding continues. Flooding affected the whole of the building recovery specialists are currently clearing and cleansing the building, whilst Nottinghamshire County Council and its property partnership ARC develop a programme of works to restore the building for use again.”
  • Oldham – Children’s poet and author Joseph Coelho signs up to Oldham Library service – Oldham Council. “Oldham recently celebrated more than 1,000,000 people coming through the doors of Oldham Libraries between 2018 and 2019.”
  • Perth and Kinross – More people are visiting libraries in Perth and Kinross – Daily Record. “Presenting a quarterly report to Perth and Kinross Council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday, November 26, Culture Perth and Kinross chief executive Helen Smout announced a 1.8 per cent increase in footfall for 2018/19. She said 11 out of the 13 libraries across the local authority were seeing a “continued increase.”
  • Redbridge – Is the decline of libraries affecting our society? By Shanzay Yousaf, Oaks Park High School – This is Local London. “I spoke to local resident and librarian, Fozia Jan, on just how the closure of libraries will affect future generations. She spoke to me about how the internet and social media is having a “negative impact on the amount of children coming to read as they would much rather just relax on Instagram”.”
  • Suffolk – Lavenham Library confirms introduction of extended opening hours at start of 2020 – Suffolk Free Press. “Lavenham Library is set to extend its opening hours beginning in the new year, following a public consultation. Under the changes, the library in Church Street will open on Mondays, between 10am and 1pm, and increase its current hours on Fridays, opening from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm.” … “The changes will result in a total increase in opening hours per week, at no cost to Suffolk Libraries, due to small changes to staffing patterns.”
  • West SussexCuts to West Sussex’s library service budget approved – Chichester Observer. “Following a public consultation, members of the cabinet approved the plans, which will save the county council £175,000 and come into effect in April.” … “The loss of the mobile service did not go down well with everyone but Duncan Crow, cabinet member for fire & rescue and communities, said some of the alternatives – hinting at the risk of closure for some of the smaller branches – were ‘quite unpalatable’.”

Boris loves libraries and wants to invest in them. But there’s a couple of things he wants to do first …

Editorial

I was out this morning helping my wife clear up after the local Christmas parade. Feeling a bit tired after both this and playing a certain festive gentlemen the day before (205 children seen in 270 minutes – a new personal best), I got home to see someone had tweeted me that Andrew Marr had straight out asked Boris Johnson about public libraries on national TV. After getting up off the floor, I produced this transcript of the conversation:

Hmm. It’s worth pointing out that the record of the Conservatives since 2010 has been over 500 closed plus over 500 now running only with unpaid staff. Assuming we accept his word that this was the fault of local authorities and nothing of course to do with central government – a pretty big ask, admittedly – it’s great to see Mr Johnson going on record to say that he “loves” libraries, even though the more cynical of us may wonder if he knows how many he has. However, if he is going to wait until both after Brexit is “done” and the economy is working unti they’re invested in then the sector may have to wait quite some time, even if we believe the prime minister. He has, after all, already got a patchy record on statements about libraries.

Ideas

National news

“We are a volunteer-run, community library, reliant on donations and volunteer time to keep us open. Last week a homeless gentleman, who uses the library toilet to wash, amongst other things, gave us a donation of 85 pence. How much is it worth to keep a library open? To the gentleman concerned, 85 pence is a lot of money. I am reminded of your comment piece last week, about the value put on public libraries in the Party manifestos.”

Chris Clarke, Friends of Jesmond Library
  • CILIP welcomes Labour Party Manifesto commitment to libraries – CILIP. “Responding to the Manifesto announcement, CILIP CEO Nick Poole comments, “This is a real win for CILIP, our partners at the EveryLibrary Institute and for everyone that has been campaigning to raise libraries up the political agenda. Public libraries are the heart of their community and they are in urgent need of reinvestment after 10 years of public sector cuts.””
  • Corbyn: I guarantee libraries will be protected under Labour – Guardian. “Speaking at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London on Sunday, the Labour leader attacked the Conservatives’ policy on libraries, saying that the party knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing”. “They’ve closed hundreds of libraries because they don’t recognise, and don’t want to recognise, the lifeline that libraries provide as a free service open to all regardless of wealth,” said Corbyn”

“The Labour leader, asked if he could promise his pledge to protect libraries would be honoured should Labour win the general election, told Penguin: “I can absolutely give you this guarantee.” He said that libraries gave him “a fantastic start in life and I want that for everybody”.

  • General election 2019: Emeli Sande and Lily Allen back £1bn Labour arts pledge – Mirror. “Labour said their ‘Arts for All’ charter aims to give all of Britain access to culture. It includes £1billion for building and upgrading libraries, museums and art galleries and £175 million a year in an arts pupil premium to give every primary school student in the country access the arts.  Research by the House of Commons Library has shown that libraries, museums and art galleries across England have had their funding slashed by at least £640m since 2010.””
  • Two Great Books To Fight Stigma Around Autism in Tweens & Teens – Book Riot. “The library can be a safe haven, but both public and school libraries need to take a few steps to ensure it is a place someone with autism wants to visit.”

“Create a sensory space with board games, fidget toys, calming lights and scenes, bean bags. This is not to be confused as a play area for children—a space that becomes too busy and loud will be the opposite of what someone with autism will want to engage with.”

  • Want to build democracy? Then build libraries – Financial Times. “Populists are starving public libraries of funds, while India’s rightwing BJP is building ‘party libraries’ for its members” … “Libraries are secular gathering places, and it’s remarkable how much of the scholarship on libraries supports the argument that they act as a vaccination against urban loneliness, a refuge for the poorest and the most vulnerable, especially in cities that have very little else to offer them … In the UK and much of the world, libraries already face threats — funding cuts, branch closures, a lack of staff and resources. If we were serious about protecting democracy, we would start with saving the libraries we already have, and then build far, far more across the globe. “

  • What are libraries worth? – CILIP. “The report’s conclusions are that Suffolk Libraries is successfully responding to the social issues of loneliness and isolation and now has insight into the social value it is creating. The authors say: “With this information, the organisation is in a strong position to make strategic and operational decisions that could help them create even more positive change in these communities” and they recommended that Suffolk Libraries continue impact measurement to gain deeper understanding of their social value.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Joseph’s love of libraries – Messenger. “As part of his ‘Library Marathon’ Joseph Coelho visited a library in each Greater Manchester authority to join and receive his library card. His journey started yesterday morning at Stockport Central Library and ended at Altrincham Library in the afternoon, but not before making a visit at Bolton’s Westhoughton Library. “
  • Bromley – Council votes to take next step towards library move – News in Beckenham. “Despite fierce local opposition including a petition which attracted more than 4,500 signatures in just three weeks, Bromley Council has voted in favour of pushing forward with plans to replace the current Beckenham Library with new housing and moving the library facility to Beckenham Halls.”
  • Calderdale – Calderdale to lead UK in exploring air quality and respiratory health with £25,000 project – Halifax Courier. “Calderdale Libraries will run a project focusing on ‘clean air’ after the service won a grant of almost £25,000 from the highly competitive Engaging Libraries Programme.The new initiative aims to engage the public with research around air quality and respiratory health.”
  • Cornwall – “Food for fines” amnesty in 15 Cornwall libraries to benefit food banks – Cornwall Council. “Food for fines’ was suggested by Cornwall Council Library and Information Service Manager Linda Moffatt, and her idea quickly gained support to bring a little Christmas cheer to those families facing hardship on low incomes.”
  • Dundee – Call for Dundee’s libraries to join dog-friendly revolution – Courier. “Library bosses at Leisure & Culture Dundee say they are considering trialling the idea. It comes after Perth and Kinross announced last year that “well-behaved” dogs would be permitted inside its local libraries on Fridays. Broughty Ferry councillor Craig said many Dundee businesses already had a positive attitude to pooches and libraries could also see the benefits.”
  • Essex – General Election candidates show support for Essex library campaign – This is Local London. “Labour, Liberal-Democrat, and Green MP hopefuls joined campaigners in city centre information stall, an event opened to candidates from all parties. ” … “Chelmsford’s Conservative candidate Vicky Ford took a different view, saying: “Each Library is different in what it offers, but volunteers can be extremely beneficial. For example, Springfield library is extremely popular and very successful, it is also run entirely by volunteers”
  • Glasgow – Refurbished Partick Library to reopen to public next month – Glasgow Live.
  • Kirklees – Death cafes are coming to Huddersfield and this is why – Examiner Live. “Kirklees Libraries will work with libraries in Newcastle in the North East and Redbridge in London, engaging the public through interactive installations, death cafés, panel debates and workshops in local hospices. A programme of activities and events for people to get involved in will be announced during the next six months.”
  • Lancashire – Celebrate Lancashire on its special day with one of these events – Lancashire Post. “Libraries across the county will be celebrating Lancashire Day today. Local historian, Dick Gillingham will be at Savick Library sharing songs, poems and historic images.”
  • Lewisham – Archibald Corbett Community Library – News Shopper. “Previously named Torridon Library, the Archibald Corbett Community Library, Arts and Heritage Centre is a fantastic local resource that opens every day of the week with the exception of Wednesdays and Sundays. Not only is it a fully functioning library, but it also works to encourage artistic advancement; for example by hosting children’s arts and crafts sessions, as well as promoting local artists’ work by selling their products, such as cards and paintings. “
  • Lincolnshire – Homeless troublemaker banned from four libraries after being threatening and aggressive to staff Grimsby Live. “Aaron Beacock’s sometimes aggressive and threatening behaviour, mainly at Cleethorpes library, has been frightening for staff and customers who have been subjected to it.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers to mark first “successful” year running Goathland Library – Northern Echo. “Volunteers who have worked tirelessly to provide a fully-functioning library at Goathland Community Hub since it was formed almost a year ago, said it had become an asset to the village. “
    • Hidden disability sunflower scheme at Harrogate library – North Yorkshire County Council. “Harrogate library customers with hidden disabilities are set to benefit from more support with the pilot of the sunflower lanyard scheme. ” … “At the library, customers will be able to pick up one of the lanyards, which have been designed to act as a discreet sign to staff that they may need additional help.”
  • Northamptonshire – First Northamptonshire library up for sale at Higham Ferrers – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “The library is being sold by the county council for £400,000 although the authority says it would still welcome offers for the building that would allow it to continue as a community managed library. The library, which will cease operating on December 31, is one of 22 the council wants to hand over to community groups in a bid to reduce its annual library running cost bill.”

“Current Northamptonshire situation: There were 36 libraries in total in the former statutory system. The NCC Cabinet decision in May 2019 meant that 22 places were told that their libraries would have  to be community-managed but 5 of those would still be ‘statutory’. Volunteers at one of the five have now withdrawn their offer to run that library so it is returning fully to statutory status with a paid member of staff in the New Year. This leaves 17 libraries to be volunteer libraries outside of the statutory system.  If Higham Ferrers does not survive then that group will go down to 16. ”

Alison Richards via email
  • Pembrokeshire – Special Christmas delivery at your local library – Western Telegraph. “Children can post their letters to Father Christmas using the special post box at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Tenby this festive season. Father Christmas will reply to all letters but as he is very busy at this time of year, he will have to leave them in the library for collection. “
  • St HelensTop prizes to be won in St Helens Libraries’ giveaway for teenagers – St Helens Reporter. “Young people who are aged 11-18 years old are encouraged to either borrow a library book or download an eBook, eComic or eMagazine from St Helens Libraries before Friday, December 13 to be entered into the ‘FOMO-R’ ­– or Fear of Missing Out on Reading – prize draw.”
  • Sheffield – How two young men are changing the library scene in Sheffield – Star. “John Kamara and Macole Lannaman, aged 27 and 23 respectively, are the managers of the Basil Griffith Library, based in the Sadacca on the Wicker. Earlier this year, The Star told how the library opened in an attempt to better engage the black community with reading and it has proven to have worked, with ‘a lot more people’ getting involved. ” … “Volunteers are an important part of Basil Griffith Library because the operation of it relies on donations raised through fundraising events.”
  • Suffolk – Thurston Library volunteer wins People’s Champion award – Bury Free Press. ” A Thurston Library volunteer has won recognition at the first Suffolk Libraries People’s Champion Awards. Emma Fakes – young volunteer of the year – was among seven award winners from across the county. Suffolk Libraries has 1,170 volunteers who gave 4,771 days last year.” “
  • Surrey – Talking Books and Libraries by Alyssa Gobin,Reigate College – This is Local London. ” On 31st October I visited Redhill Library where I talked to librarians Tina Campey, Adela Cross and Dawn Cleaver, which enabled me to gain an insight into the importance of the library and reading. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Now Vale customers can borrow iPads from their library – Cardiffian. “The project is led by Newydd Housing Association and Digital Communities Wales (DCM). Tablets are loaded with library apps, social media, Duolingo and the Vale council app.  Each tablet has access to mobile data so people can download their own apps and use it as a personal device  ” … ““All the libraries were at different IT skill levels so what we’ve said to them is: Learn it yourself until you feel confident giving it out to the public.” “
  • Warrington – There’s an awful lot of coffee – at the library – Warrington Worldwide. “The town’s libraries are launching a range of artisan coffee called “Brazilian Book Blend” to emphasise the fact that a good book and a good brew make a perfect partnership. Coffee is the most popular drink worldwide – according to the British Coffee Association more than 95 million cups a day are drunk in the UK.. LiveWire has teamed up with Amber Coffee, a north west-based artisan micro coffee roaster to create a special library blend of coffee. “

Five more years of this? The party manifestos and public libraries.

Editorial

It’s that joyful time of year in the election period when all the manifestos have been published and librarians can again play the game of pressing CTRL and F with the search term “libr” on them and see if it comes up with any results. So what does such a tactic show this year?

As normal, all of the party manifestos largely treat libraries as an afterthought but there are some interesting differences between them. The Conservative manifesto only mentions the already announced £250 million to be shared between museums and libraries and anything else cultural. That sounds nice but this amount is over five years and the amount for libraries will be far less per year than recent cuts in it overseen by the same party.

So, not much joy there then, but more than with the Liberal Democrats who mention libraries only as a location for the collection of free sanitary products. Let that sink in for a while before we move on.

The Greens, who I would have thought would have been right behind libraries, mention the word once for tool/equipment collection points and once to point out that they’ll keep libraries thriving. Labour, on the other hand, have clearly been alerted to the sector as they promise £1 billion – not just £250 million – for libraries, galleries and museums but also specifically mention updated IT for public libraries and the reintroduction of library standards.

Well, OK, I am probably being unfair on the Lib Dems who doubtless will spend more on local services than the Conservatives, who have shown a deep desire to cut them more andmore over the last decade. And libraries under the Greens would likely see a renaissance of the sort they have not seen since Carnegie more than a century ago. But the clear gold star goes to Labour who actually appear to show some understanding of the sector beyond that of the typical person polled at a street corner.

A shame then that, if current polling is to be believed, none of these parties stand a chance and the Conservatives will get in with a comfortable majority. Their track record has been demonstrably negative for the sector since 2010 and there is nothing in their manifesto or demeanour that suggests this will change. It suggests that, nationally, libraries should expect, best case scenario, another five more years of only slightly better conditions than now and, worse case, a continued deep decline in funding by a government continuing its policy of neglect for libraries. Library services and librarians should make their long term plans with that in mind.

NB It’s purdah time so I need to reiterate again and specially that this editorial reflects entirely my own views outside of work – and not that of my employer or anyone else in the library sector.

Changes by authority

Party Manifestos

“We will ensure libraries are preserved for future generations and updated with Wi-Fi and computers. We will reintroduce library standards so that government can assess and guide councils in delivering the best possible service.”

“We will invest in the towns and communities neglected for too long, with a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to transform libraries, museums and galleries across the country”

Labour Party Manifesto 2019

“£250 million to support local libraries and museums ”

Conservative Party Manifesto 2019

“End period poverty by removing VAT on sanitary products and providing them for free in schools, hospitals, hostels, shelters, libraries, leisure centres, stadiums, GP surgeries, food banks, colleges and universities. “

Liberal Democratic Party Manifesto 2019

” Encourage a shift from models of ownership to usership, such as with car-sharing platforms and neighbourhood libraries for tools and equipment “

” We will support councils to also use this funding to nurture arts and culture in their areas, keeping local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open and thriving. “

Green Party Manifesto 2019

National news

  • Complaint concerning CCHQ misrepresentation on social media – CILIP. “I am writing on behalf of CILIP, the UK’s library and information association, to complain in the strongest possible terms about the action taken last night by the Conservative Party in re-branding the @CCHQPress twitter account as ‘fact checking UK’ alongside the televised Leaders Debate.” … “We are therefore submitting this formal complaint on the basis that in taking this action, your Communications Team and any Party Leadership that sanctioned this action are in clear and material breach of your own Conservative Party Code of Conduct.”
  • Ken Follett: Author makes plea to save our libraries – Daily Express. “My family was not poor, but a book was either two and six, or five shillings, and young families like ours did not have much disposable income. So I would only get books for my birthday and at Christmas. Then, one glorious day, I discovered libraries and their promise of unlimited free books for ever. Suddenly, it was Christmas every day. In fact, I would say the first big thrill of my life was joining Canton Library in Cardiff, aged seven”
  • Libraries leading the way in exploring challenging issues – Carnegie UK Trust. “The £500k programme will support 14 projects across 16 library services to partner with universities to engage their local communities with research. Projects will cover a wide variety of topics from fake news and air quality to the menopause and multilingualism.”
  • McDonnell: Labour’s broadband plan is just like a public library – Wired. ““The development of free libraries – the ability to access information, and at the same time to engage culturally with the rest of the community has always been a principle that we’re trying to advocate,” says McDonnell when asked why Labour would make its proposed national broadband service free of charge – a world first, if actually implemented. “It’s the same principle of the NHS.””
  • Mozfest 2019 – Libraries Connected. “The Mozilla Festival (also known as MozFest) covers a range of topics focusing on creating a better internet. The theme for this year’s Mozilla Festival was healthy AI. The sessions were organised in broad topics as in previous years – web literacy, openness, digital inclusion, decentralisation, privacy and security, youth zone, queering, neurodiversity, dialogues and debates. Libraries Connected gave bursaries to six library workers to attend the festival.”
  • Participation in Summer Reading Challenge up 2.6% – BookSeller. “The Reading Agency has reported 722,731 children took part in public libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge this summer, representing a 2.64% increase on last year’s participation.” … “Following an 8% fall last year,” …”Next year the theme of the 2020 Summer Reading Challenge will be “Silly Squad”, celebrating funny books with bespoke artwork from Laura Ellen Anderson, children’s book author and illustrator behind the Amelia Fang series published by Egmont.”
  • Public Library Champion of the Year 2019: Remarkable Community Support at Carrickfergus Library – Lorensbergs. “The ways in which Jillian McFrederick and her team at Carrickfergus Library engage and serve their community are truly inspirational. Particularly noteworthy is the wide range of demographics that are supported through the many library programmes and activities.”
  • The Summer Reading Challenge encourages 722,731 children to read this summer – Reading Agency. “This year’s overall figure includes 37,177 children under 4 taking part with special pre-school materials – an increase of 32% on last year.” … “95% of library authorities across England, Scotland and Wales took part this summer.”

International news

Local news by authority

Consultation in Bradford and transfer delay in Hertfordshire

Editorial

Purdah, that strangely colonial term for councils not being political during an election campaign, is kicking in but there are a few things still happening in library-land.

Two local stories. The first is that Hertfordshire are having to postpone the transfer of their library service to a mutual because of how complicated it is. Something that needs bearing in mind with those wanting to transfer their service out of direct council control is the complexity. Think of it as a mini-Brexit but, thankfully, without Farage. Unless you’re doing it really wrong. Secondly, Bradford are finally consulting on the deep cuts it is proposing for its library service which has already resulted in strike action. Bradford’s entry on this website chronicling the last ten years is a long and terrible one and to add this injury on top is horrible. I hope the people of the city let them know how bad.

Finally, Libraries are starting to be mentioned in articles concerning the General Election, notably of course in the Guardian – ever the official newspaper of public services – but also a smattering in the local press too. While this is very much a one-issue election, it would be good to see some more mentions so politicians are reminded of how important the service is.

Changes by local authority

National news

Are English libraries serious about fighting ‘fake news’? – Mechanical Dolphin. “Are public libraries’ collections supposed to be free from pernicious items of “fake news”? It seems unlikely. Does librarians’ training immunise them from fakery? Not always.” … “Public libraries are proud of the relatively high degree of community trust which they enjoy. They recognise the need to play a role in the turbulent information ecoystem of today’s digital world, even if they haven’t fully defined or enacted that role yet.”

The leave-voting seat where the library matters as much as Brexit – Guardian. “Some observers might view the fight over the library as a proxy for the underlying factors that have been linked to Brexit: years of cuts, a sense that people have lost control over their own lives, and a pervading belief that places far from London have been forgotten. But in Darlington, it did not feel like part of a sweeping national story. Instead, a campaign ostensibly about a library became a focus for other long-held concerns about the direction of the town.”

A Welsh library bus left to rot in a back garden has had an amazing makeover – Wales Online. “A Welsh 1960s library bus which had been left in a garden to rot for almost 40 years has been restored to its former glory. The Aberdare Public Library bus, which dates back to 1961, had been parked up in the back garden of house in Aberaman since 1981. ”

Medici

International news

  • Finland – How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’ – CityLab. “In a country that boasts one of the world’s highest literacy rates, the arrival of the new central library in Helsinki last year was a kind of moon-landing-like moment of national bonding.” … “Patrons can even borrow season tickets for the Helsinki’s popular professional basketball games. Only on the topmost level—in a soaring, light-filled space Laitio calls “book heaven”—will one find actual volumes for readers, a 100,000-book collection that’s in very high demand.”
  • Global – IoT Technologies in Libraries – Princh. “The Internet of Things (IoT), a recent shift in technology that libraries’ and library staff should be familiar with as it may help improve the services, resources and experience that libraries’ can provide. In this week’s post Barbi Gardiner, an IT librarian, social media manager and founder of Library Tech talk, discusses all things IoT and libraries.
  • USA – Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives – OCLC. “Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.”
    • Library deploys drone to probe mystery of hidden anti-Trump books – Independent. “Someone has been hiding books lately – specifically, those that explore politics through a progressive lens or criticise president Donald Trump. They wind up misfiled in out-of-the-way corners where readers will be sure not to find them. “I am going to continue hiding these books in the most obscure places I can find to keep this propaganda out of the hands of young minds,” the mystery book relocator wrote in a note left for Ms Ammon, the library director, in the facility’s comment box. “Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure.”
    • Why Libraries Have a Public Spirit That Most Museums Lack – Hyperallegenic. “I’ve been reading about the roots of both institutions in the United States, and they have evolved in similar ways; so how do they diverge? And is this divergence relevant to the ways in which a stunningly broad swath of society feels welcome within a public library and not a museum?”

Local news by authority

Three national campaigns

Editorial

Good to see three new, but very different, national campaigns for libraries. The first is the VoteLibraries campaign by LibrariesDeliver which aims to raise the profile of libraries in time for the general election. The second is the library aspect of the 100 Novels That Shaped the World BBC series. Finally, the poet laureate Simon Armitage, has announced a ten year campaign to visit a library for every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. This should make for some very creative entries towards the end. Hmm, does Zennor have a library?

Changes by authority

Ideas

National news

  • BBC panel reveal the 100 novels that have shaped their world – Reading Agency. “We are excited to be working with BBC Arts and Libraries Connected on their year-long celebration of literature, as an expert panel reveal the 100 English language titles that have shaped their world. From January until the culmination of festival during Libraries Week in October 2020, resources will be available for readers and reading groups around the 100 novels, divided into ten categories. These resources will provide information about the chosen themes, questions to spark discussion and further suggestions to widen your reading. “
  • The Economic Case for Supporting Libraries – Book Riot.
  • CILIP pushes for library support in election campaign – BookSeller. “VoteLibraries.uk, library supporters across the UK can sign a “#VoteLibraries” pledge, download social media elements, posters and campaign materials to use in their local area, and email their local candidates to encourage them to show their support. It is part of Libraries Deliver, an advocacy project from CILIP with the EveryLibrary Institute and follows on from research published last month, “Public Libraries: The case for support”, highlighting the positive impact of libraries and calling for investment.
    • Campaigners want you to vote for libraries in this general election – Big Issue.
    • Vote Libraries – Libraries Deliver. “Do you #LoveLibraries? Show your support for your libraries this December with our #VoteLibraries toolkit. We’ve made it easy for you to help spread the word using the resources below. The more of us that commit to voting for libraries, the more power we’ll have in the fight to keep them open.”
  • Head of Engagement (Adults) – Reading Agency. Max £42k, London based. “The Reading Agency is looking for an experienced strategic manager, to shape and lead an exciting new phase of its work with adult readers, particularly those less confident readers aged 16 and above.”
  • Libraries Taskforce: six-monthly progress report (April to September 2019) – Gov.uk. A summary of what is going on nationally in the sector including: ACE; LibrariesDeliver; DCMS digital access; data; building the case for public libraries; national guidelines on subjects like volunteer libraries, outsourcing libraries, benchmarking; peer reviews; skills strategy; leadership fund; innovation and BAME networks; BIPC Network; continued work on the single digital presence; living knowledge network; universal offer review; etc.

Medici (YouTube)More information on this service is available via this (sponsored) link.

  • NAG Public Libraries Forum Manchester – National Acquisitions Group. 20 November. “NAG Forum events are informal discussion days with a range of lightning talks and longer papers with plenty of time for group discussion following each presentation. Feedback from previous forum events has confirmed that the opportunity to network with other professionals from across the country is the most valued part of the day. The events provide a friendly, supportive atmosphere where people feel confident they can speak freely amongst their peers.”
  • Ten year library tour for Poet Laureate Simon Armitage – BookSeller. “Over a week in each spring for the next decade, Armitage will give readings in libraries across the UK, in a tour  supported by the T S Eliot Estate and his long-time publishers Faber & Faber. Using the alphabet as a guide, his Laureate’s Library Tour will involve local communities, poets and students at each stop on the journey, to celebrate libraries. ”
    • The Laureate’s Library Tour – Simon Armitage. “So, if your library’s name or location begins with the letters A or B, do get in touch if you would like him to help celebrate your library during the A-B Libraries Tour in 2020. This will take place during the week Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20 inclusive. “

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol Librarians are left stunned after book was returned 42 years past its due date – with £10 and an apology – Mail. “A library book has been returned 42 years late along with two £5 notes and an apology. The children’s title was taken out from a library in Henleaze, Bristol before Christmas in 1976 and was due back on January 5, 1977. But it was never returned and began racking up overdue fines – while missing for a staggering 15,644 days.”
  • Bromley – Plans to relocate Beckenham Library met with opposition – News in Beckenham. “More than 2,000 local residents have strongly opposed plans by the council to move Beckenham Library from its current location by the Spa Leisure Centre to Beckenham Public Hall in an effort to make way for new housing. Labour councillor for Clock House ward, Ian Dunn, set up a petition opposing the move which was signed by more than 1,000 people in just 24 hours. Bromley Council estimate that 46 housing units could be accommodated on the site with “no net loss of the surrounding green space” and it is anticipated that the development would consist of 50% affordable housing. However, it is unclear whether there will be any social housing made available as part of the move. “
  • Cornwall – St Just Library has been devolved to town council – Falmouth Packet. “Under the agreement the library transferred to the town council on Friday after alterations were completed. The changeover will also include the relocation of the town council office into part of the library building in January so visitors will have access to a range of services in one place. Completed improvement work included re-roofing the central flat roof, replacing the entrance porch, remodelling the library space and creating new office space for the town council. ”
  • Devon – Library offers books and much more – Tavistock Today. A look at Okehampton Library. “Wren is just starting out on Book Track, a popular scheme at the library in which children are challenged to work towards reading 100 books, with incentives of badges and a £5 book token from the Friends of Okehampton Library on completion.”
  • Inverclyde – Comic creators hone their skills in special library sessions – Greenock Telegraph. “The new comic club is called Splash Panel and it’s open to 11 to 15-year-olds. Paul Bristow, of local heritage group Magic Torch, is leading the project. Paul, a digital storyteller in residence at the library, says interest in the group is high.”
  • Lambeth – New library scheme to lend smart clothes to jobseekers for interviews – The Extra Mile. “To support our local community, ihateironing has been in collaboration with the Brixton Library, to help unemployed residents and ex-offenders look and feel their best for their job interviews. We have been cleaning and donating formal attire for them to wear, which we hope may contribute to a life-changing moment for someone in need.”

“It’s as easy as borrowing a book. Just show us confirmation of your job interview, and the outfit is yours for up to four days. Then, when you’ve landed your dream, pop back in to drop the clothes off, and give someone else the chance to change their life too.”

  • Lancashire – Lancashire libraries invest in digital for the futureLancashire County Council. “Starting in November and continuing during the next few months the rollout of over 500 new public access computers with the latest Windows 10 software will be installed in some libraries to replace the current equipment, whilst the remainder will have their software upgraded.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Monklands libraries to start closing earlier on two weekdays – Daily Record. “Airdrie and Coatbridge libraries will be closing two hours earlier on Mondays and Wednesdays from later this month. It follows a public consultation during the summer, asking users to choose when the current hours of opening until 7pm four days per week should be retained and which two evenings should be cut as part of a savings package.”
  • North Yorkshire – Pick up a free comic at the library – North Yorkshire County Council. “The giveaway is in conjunction with Thought Bubble, the Yorkshire Comic Art Festival, which this year is taking place in Harrogate for the first time, with a two-day event at Harrogate Convention Centre on Saturday and Sunday (9 and 10 November).”
  • Northern Ireland – Tackle the winter blues in your library – Banbridge Leader. “Libraries NI is inviting all members of the community to come and relax in front of a light therapy box, designed to help ease the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is now in place in Banbridge and Rathfriland libraries.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Retford library to close next month ahead of major refurbishment works – Worksop Guardian. “The library will close on Saturday, December 4, to undergo a total transformation which is expected to be complete in spring 2020. Nottinghamshire County Council, its cultural charity Inspire, and contractor ARC Partnership plan to make the library more visible and accessible to the local community.”
  • Rochdale – Read all about it as free library scheme launches – Rochdale News. “All four and five-year-olds will receive a free card, which can be used to borrow books at the borough’s 17 libraries”
  • Somerset Late Library Hangouts – Somerset Libraries. “Libraries in West Somerset now offer a regular ‘after hours’ club where you can sit in comfort, meet with friends, blitz that homework or just relax”
  • Suffolk – Changing the library narrative – Libraries Connected. “As real incomes, statutory services and community-based support are reduced, these events, activities and experiences have become increasingly important, even as libraries suffer from the same spending cuts. Talking about how we provide social value through statistics and real-life examples of socio-recreation will help us change the library story. “

2018/19 Visits = c. 5000,000 ; Loans = 586,767
2017/18 Visits = 592.313  ;  Loans = 645,118
2012/13 Visits = 1,091484  ;   Loans = 1,070,181
2007/08  Visits = 1.008.071  ; Loans = 982,04

Swindon – Usage statistics, sent in via Shirley Burnham.

  • Wrexham – Have your say on the future of Wrexham’s libraries – The Leader. “Wrexham Council is inviting anyone who has not yet put their views forward to have their say – either via an online consultation survey or at one of the forthcoming roadshows where questions can be asked to council officers. So far the authority’s roadshows – held at the public libraries and other community venues, have seen more than 350 people attend. Andrew Atkinson, lead member for libraries, said: “Wrexham Council is facing its toughest financial challenges in living memory and we have some difficult decisions to make. “

Derbyshire design in a barrier to the customer

Editorial

Derbyshire Libraries have telephones. Their numbers are clearly visible on their webpages. And, despite the best efforts of the council, most of them still have staff in them to answer the telephones. They also have computers which allow staff to renew books. Simple. But, from now on, if you phone one of these libraries, you won’t be able to renew a book. Because the council doesn’t want you to and is deliberately putting a barrier in your way. For those without online access and easy transportation, this is going to stop them renewing books – for no good reason other than The Council Says No. Let us be clear. This is the opposite of good customer service. It is designed-in bad customer service and whoever is responsible for this move should be ashamed of themselves.

This is the most ridiculous result so far I have seen of Digital By Default in libraries, where the user is pushed to using the computer because its cheaper. But in this case it is not even that: there’s no extra cost involved. The staff are there, the phone is there, the computer is there, the renewal facility is there. This is just ridiculous and if any other service is thinking following Derbyshire’s example, remember what your actual purpose is in your job … and don’t.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Artist Commission, New Words Project, Time to Read, North West Reader Development Partnership – Time To Read North West / Arts Council England. “New Words is a new 18-month project, supported by Arts Council England, to promote and develop relationships between independent publishers and libraries in the North West, broadening reading experiences for existing readers, and developing new readers to libraries and publishers.”
  • Author Ben Holden launches podcast to support libraries – BookSeller. “Author Ben Holden will host a new podcast which celebrates libraries and indie bookshops, and aims to campaign against library cuts, with Jacqueline Wilson, Melvyn Bragg and Val McDermid among the interviewees. Ex Libris will launch on 6th November and will see Holden in conversation with Ken Follett in his childhood library Canton Library, Cardiff, with senior librarian Rhian Jones.”
  • Cowbridge pupil picks up library award for his story – Glamorgan Gem. “Children from across Wales took part in the competition launched by Welsh Libraries in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society during Dementia Action Week in May, to pen a short story on the theme of memories in no more than 480 words, 480 being the number of people being diagnosed with dementia each day in the UK. “
  • How my local library changed my life – Penguin. “Here Jojo Moyes, Jacqueline Wilson and 11 other Penguin authors share memories of their local libraries. Together they make a powerful case for why we should fight to protect them.”
  • Love for library after romantic fiction award nod – Worcester News. “The library has been shortlisted in the Library of the Year category at this year’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Industry Awards. They will now be looking to win over the hearts and minds of the judges, as they face love rivals Harrogate Library, Kingswinford Library and Jersey Library, who are all also swooning for the prize. “
  • Statement on the government’s Social Prescribing Academy launch – Libraries Connected. “There are over 3000 public libraries in the UK and many of these are already working closely with local social prescribers. Libraries are within reach of most communities and offer a warm welcome for all without judgement…”
  • Streaming: Kanopy, the film service for library users – Guardian. “Any free streaming options, then, are more welcome than ever, and a new one is slowly making inroads into the UK via the most venerable no-cost entertainment service of them all: the public library system. It’s been 11 years since video streaming service Kanopy was founded in Australia, initially as an educational resource for university students, before extending to public library users across the country. It offers a selection of more than 15,000 films, shorts, documentaries and educational videos to be digitally “checked out” on a standard library card, whereupon they’re available for home viewing for three days.”
  • Supporting Libraries, Supporting our Future: towards a blueprint for a collaborative support infrastructure in England – Carnegie UK Trust. “Our hope at CUKT is that this report will provide a starting point for a blueprint for a collaborative support infrastructure that bridges national organisations and local public library services, cements joint working and is successful in securing a sustainable national network of public libraries for the benefit of future generations”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – Library @ the Lightbox, Barnsley – Designing Libraries. “The new ultra-modern facility offers users access to over 20 PC’s, digital learning and coding clubs. Students can relax and spend valuable time in the study area with plenty of PC and desk access and comfortable seating. There is an events room, a quiet room for autism sufferers to use when they need a quiet space, away from the busy library. The Children’s Library is bursting with colour and has many items of interactive furniture for little ones to climb, hide and perch to read their favourite books.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – New community library opens in Peasedown following 18 months of work – Bath Echo. “The library will be run by more than 20 volunteers at St John’s Community Hall and will be open for 12 hours a week, stocked with 700 books for locals to enjoy.”
    • New investment proposed for Bath Central Library – Bath and North East Somerset Council Newsroom. “t follows a review of plans for the library under the council’s Modern Libraries Programme, which in 2017 had proposed the Podium as the site for a central Bath integrated Library and One Stop Shop. Last year the £3m scheme was paused pending a review due to challenging budget pressures. A budget report before the council’s cabinet, which meets on Thursday November 7, says the council’s Capital Programme will be adjusted as a result to remove the £3m allocated to the scheme.” But councillors will be recommended to consider a smaller capital investment proposal, as part of the council’s capital budget for the next financial year, which would fund work to refresh the library.
  • Bracknell Forest – Take a step into the Bracknell Forest of make-believe and celebrate literature – Bracknell News. “Stories are being brought to life this week with a series of unique and vibrant author talks, workshops, dance and poetry as part of Bracknell Forest Library’s first ever literary festival.”
  • Bradford – Local government round up: Fight at Bradford libraries escalates – Socialist Worker.
    • Celebrating reading challenge success – Ilkley Gazette. “3,200 children took part in the challenge during the six week summer holidays. An out-of-this-world 54 per cent managed to complete the challenge which meant reading six or more books.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Blacon Adventure Playground to stage free Halloween party for children – Cheshire Live. “Under-eights will be able to enjoy scary stories with the Cheshire West and Chester Libraries team”
  • Derbyshire – Library users will need to renew books online or in person from November – Derbyshire County Council. “Derbyshire library-users are being asked to renew their books online or in person at a branch from Friday 1 November 2019, rather than ring Call Derbyshire.” … ““Library staff will be pleased to help people who are unsure what to do.””
  • Doncaster – Doncaster’s new library and museum is the tops – Doncaster Council. ““We are raising the bar with this new central library and museum. It will be a first class facility, offering a range of modern services for our residents. We want to encourage local people to aim for the stars and inspire them to learn about Doncaster’s rich and varied heritage. Libraries empower and enable all our citizens to learn and gain knowledge; libraries give us power individually and collectively. ” Expected to open Summer 2020.
  • Flintshire – More support needed for Mancot Library – The Leader. “Sue Dylan, volunteer at Mancot Community Library’ is asking residents to attend the upcoming events and raise funds for the cause. She said: “We don’t get any funding. All of the fundraising events we hold, helps to pay to keep us going so that will go on electricity and gas.”
  • HackneyHackney home visit library service: “Books bring the outside in” – East London Lines. “The first question is always – what does it cost? It’s free,” said Mo Dixon, a Community Library Service officer. Dixon is talking about Hackney Home Visit Library Service – a scheme that lends around 12,750 books a year to over 700 people aged between nine and 102 on a daily basis, to individuals, residential homes, day centres, nurseries and hospitals.”
  • Kingston Upon Thames – Kingston Library prevented from opening by ‘Ethelred’ the squirrel – Sutton and Croydon Guardian. “Staff at the library announced the news on Twitter after revealing that “wildlife” had prevented the library from opening on time Saturday morning. “
  • Lambeth – New library scheme to lend smart clothes to jobseekers for interviews – Belfast Telegraph. “The service is being set up at Brixton Library in south London and will lend outfits free of charge to anyone who has a job interview or entrepreneurs heading to meetings with potential investors.”
    • Lambeth library events for November 2019 celebrate one hundred years of free public libraries – Brixton Buzz. “We are about to celebrate two big anniversaries in Public libraries. One hundred years ago the Government passed The Public Libraries Act 1919, reforming the old legislation to remove the ‘penny on the rates’ system and paving the way for the Public Library service in Britain to become a truly national, free service for all. Twenty-five years ago in 1994 UNESCO ratified its international Public Library Manifesto, laying out 12 key missions which put information, literacy, education and culture at the core of public library services worldwide.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Edwinstowe Library, Nottinghamshire – Designing Libraries. “Not only is the library the wonderful, fresh, relaxing space envisaged, but the number of new users is double what they were for the same period in the previous two years, children’s issues have increased by 41% and there has been an increase in visits by 20%.”
  • St Helens – 6 Hallowe’en events coming to St Helens – St Helens Star.
  • Solihull – Poet pens Ode for Solihull to mark Libraries Week – Birmingham Live. “A top performance poet was recently enlisted to pen a poem which paid tribute to Solihull’s rich history – with those very verses debuted as part of Libraries Week.
  • Swindon – Special report: Libraries are a ‘treasure house’ – Swindon Advertiser. “The five core libraries – Swindon Central, North Swindon, West Swindon, Park and Highworth – together bring in over 500,000 visits per year. And more books are being taken out than people visiting the locations – 586,767 loans to the 519,922 attendees. This doesn’t include the nine community libraries run by parishes and trusts which makes up Swindon’s 14.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Launch of Wales’ first tablet loan scheme – Barry GEM. “The Vale of Glamorgan Council is supporting the project, with hopes it will help tackle social isolation and improve digital literacy, particularly amongst the elderly, disabled, those on low income or those living in rural areas.”
  • WarwickshireRugby and Leamington libraries to host events to introduce ‘self-help’ gadget website – Courier. “Called AskSara, the easy-to-use website helps improve people’s access to a range of ‘self-help’ smart technology and associated services in Warwickshire – from automatic pill dispensers to reminder clocks, personal alarms and general equipment to help make daily activities easier – so they can stay well for longer”
  • West Berkshire – Increased number of library volunteers essential to keeping service running – Newbury Today. “The number of people volunteering at West Berkshire libraries has risen as the service faced its first full year with depleted staff. The 47 library staff were supported by 322 volunteers, who contributed 12,035 hours between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019. The number of volunteers increased by 13 per cent – 283 to 322 – and volunteer hours also increased by 18 per cent, 10,147 to 12,035. Having to reduce its budget by £19m in 2016 through a reduction in government funding, the council looked at closing eight of the district’s nine libraries.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – West Dunbartonshire mark Scottish Book Week with series of free events – Daily Record.
  • WiganWigan man wins National Lottery award for unique library concert scheme – Wigan Today. “Get It Loud in Libraries founder, Stewart Parsons, 53, was awarded one of only 12 prestigious awards in the whole of the UK. To celebrate his accolade, Stuart joined a host of stars from the world of stage and screen at the glittering 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards show which was filmed for BBC One at BBC Television Centre in London and will be aired on Tuesday November 19.”
  • Wiltshire – Failing to return library books lands Wiltshire man with hefty court bill – This is Wiltshire. “Swindon magistrates heard Christopher Taylor had failed to return 11 volumes withdrawn from Calne public library in February. Taylor, of The Rise, acted as guarantor for his children – who had checked out the eight books and two tomes on Second World War history. They should have been returned by February 25 and March 11. When they did not materialise librarians sent out reminder letters then notices warning Mr Taylor he could face prosecution if the books were not returned.”
  • WorcestershireHalloween-themed craft activities taking place at Hagley Library – Bromsgrove Standard. “Coun Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities, said: “There are lots of activities happening at libraries across the county to keep things creative and imaginative this half term. Our library teams have done a wonderful job in making sure things are suitably spooky.”. Similar report also for Droitwich Library including a Monster Ball.
  • York – York libraries to share buildings with other organisations – York Press. “City of York Council outlined plans to invest £4 million in Clifton and Acomb libraries – as well as proposals to bring other community organisations into some of the city’s standalone library buildings. Speaking at a meeting, Andy Laslett from the council said: “I think it’s important to recognise that, with a national picture of reducing resources going into libraries, York has a commitment that there will be no reduction in the number of staffed libraries.”

Bradford strike, Warrington good news, CILIP and campaigners, and Libraries Connected.

Editorial

The hypocritical approach of Bradford council in trying to be recognised as a City of Culture while cutting its libraries and museums is being met by strike action and a fair bit of media coverage. Also gaining attention, although for happier reasons is Warrington – recently having gone through pretty tough times itself – which has led a rather impressive “food for fines” campaign on top of promoting other good things.

While the time of the Library Campaigners meeting from CILIP – 2pm on a work day – has not attracted many admirers, it marks another move by the professional association to be more of an activist organisations, also notable is the Change Lives move. However, those who know the old Libraries Change Lives awards will not miss it isn’t taking place this year.

The blog post by Isobel Hunter of libraries Connected in Princh (how odd that a library supply company is one of the chief websites for library thought pieces) updates us on the policy and views of chief library officers, as does the slightly less positive but very knowledgeable piece in the Library Data Blog.

National news

  • Culture Minister tells MP – Libraries have the answer – Edinburgh Reporter. “Ian Murray Labour MP for Edinburgh South asked The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport a written question recently and has shared the answer. He wanted to know what assessment the Minister had made of the potential benefits to (a) partially sighted and (b) blind people of (i) e-readers and (ii) other digital reading materials; and what steps her Department is taking to increase access to those materials. He tabled the written question on 16 October 2019 and has just received a written response. …”
  • Dear Gavin Williamson, how strange that prisons have to have a library but schools do not – Guardian. Michael Rosen: “One of the curiosities of life is that schools are not obliged to have libraries, but prisons are. Step one, then, is to make it compulsory for schools, too. This has to be backed up withstep two: ringfenced money to support schools’ libraries, along with the hiring and training of librarians.”
  • Delivering A Sustainable Future For UK Libraries – Princh. “In this week’s post Princh guest writer Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive from Libraries Connected discusses delivering a sustainable future for UK libraries … we also recognise that local authorities are working in times of unprecedented challenge and are struggling to manage huge financial reductions across all service areas … We believe firmly that we’re not here to keep libraries as they are, or to revert to what they were, but that our role is to help them to evolve to meet the current needs of their communities.”

“If we manage to pull all this off, it will mean a more sustainable framework for libraries; a team to support each library service to not only survive change, but to develop to its best potential; a stronger and more diverse leadership; and a clear definition for public libraries with a tool to define what this means in each locality.”

Isobel Hunter, Libraries Connected
  • Libraries, Information and Knowledge Change Lives – CILIP. “Libraries, Information and Knowledge Change Lives” is CILIP’s commitment on behalf of librarians, information and knowledge professionals to tackle some of society’s most urgent challenges. It outlines our plan to become an ‘activist’ organisation, through proactive advocacy and the promotion of inclusive, participatory and socially-engaged knowledge and information services.” … “We will be consulting on each of the six priority areas through a combination of workshops, surveys and interviews. Register your interest in participating in this consultation by completing this form.”
  • Library Campaigners Meeting – CILIP. London 5 November, 2pm. “The purpose of this meeting is to provide a platform for CILIP and campaigners to engage with each other, share concerns and ideas and set out how we want to work together for the good of libraries and library users in the future. The meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend and participate, whether or not they are a current CILIP member.” … “Please register to let us know how you will be attending, especially if you wish to attend online so that we can send you the webinar details.”
  • Members of the British Library Advisory Council – Cabinet Office. “The British Library wishes to appoint four members to its Advisory Council, which provides advice, insights and suggestions to the Library’s leadership. Applications are sought from candidates with expertise in a relevant field such as: collaborative (post-graduate) academic research, data sciences, life and physical sciences, education, culture, publishing, business and commerce, entrepreneurship, libraries, or the creation and management of knowledge.”
  • OverDrive Founder Steve Potash speaks at House of Lords event in support of UK public libraries – Rakuten Overdrive. “OverDrive is proud to be the sole corporate sponsor of this important new report from CILIP and The Big Issue,” he said. “OverDrive is dedicated to ‘A world enlightened by reading,’ and works every day to aid the essential mission of libraries and librarians to promote literacy, education and digital skills. We urge politicians to get behind this Case for Support to secure the long-term future of this critical sector.”
  • A public library data strategy – Library Data Blog. Very little about data in recent Libraries Connected report, with chief library officers concerned that they would not see any local benefit in providing data, even though it provides national benefit. “This is a misrepresentation of how essential common data standards are. But it is also understandable. The desperation of public libraries has led to a situation where the only good outcomes are seen as those that bring in more funding, with other benefits being ignored.”

International news

Local news by authority