A month of public libraries news, much of it good


One of the advantages of not having done a post for a month is you can clearly see the themes of what is going on.

Nationally, there are two initiatives – a roadmap and library support schemes – that, if they happen as suggested, will be very useful in aiding local library problems and lead to a better service. Due to there being at the moment both a massively distracted and a hugely disinterested national government, this is probably the best that can be hoped for. It’s interesting that there is “little appetite” reported at any level for changing how libraries are delivered, when the last ten years have seen huge piecemeal moves towards just that.

On the good side locally, there are a surprisingly large number of refurbishments and – gosh – actual new libraries in the news, although sometimes it is hard to tell from reports whether such things are co-locations (a bit of a double-edge sword for libraries) or something more genuinely purely beneficial. A huge well done, though, to the people behind Kensal Rise, who have pushed for nearly a decade for a functioning reopened library, which finally happened this weekend.

On the bad side locally, w we have a big problem starting in Bradford – never exactly a shining star when it comes to public libraries – who want to cut their service even more while hypocritically spending money on claiming, presumably with a straight face, that it is a city of culture. Strike action there means there are two library services currently facing that last resort – the other is Bromley. The cuts in Essex continue to be faced up to with tremendous verve and fortitude and quite a lot of savvy about the need not to be fooled by seeming council concessions.

Finally, I need to say that there have been major problems with the Public Libraries News website causing such a long delay between posts. This appears to have been caused by both a problem with the website host – now changed – and some fairly huge and certainly numerous hack attacks. Heaven knows what such people aim to gain from hacking a public libraries website – perhaps it’s because it comes high on many google search rankings – but it certainly irritates me. Things appear fixed for now but there has been a loss of some data.


The piece in the last post on the new Transforming Leadership grant says that 15 people will benefit from the programme,  Actually the programme will involve 4 people from each authority – the “Emerging Leader” is the catalyst and in addition there will be a development programme for their  head of service, and a third programme involving two other members of staff in each participating service who are identified as having leadership potential. So 60 members of the workforce will be involved – not 15. The funding will also provide for a new online learning course on leadership for public library staff.

Changes by authority

National news

  • A to Z of Library Digital Services – Lorensbergs. Excellent infographic for all to share. “So roll on Libraries Week, and the opportunity it gives to celebrate all our libraries have to offer in the digital sphere. With our libraries and their staff there to support us, we all have the chance to develop and progress our digital skills and knowledge. Whatever your circumstances, digital inclusion is in reach simply by dropping into your local branch. In addition to the A-Z, further information and ideas on how libraries facilitate digital participation and skills attainment will be available on this blog each day in the week ahead. “
  • Community Business Trade Up Programme – School for Social Entrepreneurs. Funding for volunteer libraries etc. “Do you run an organisation or project that exists to improve your local neighbourhood, village or town? Do you run it like a business, but re-invest profits to benefit your local community?”
  • Cressida Cowell: Dragon author breathing fire over library cuts – Express. ““That’s why I’m so passionate about libraries because nobody has been able to answer me the question: If a child doesn’t have a public library and they don’t have a library in their primary school, how on earth are they going to be able to read for pleasure? “It is a social mobility timebomb. How can a kid compete with another kid who has got access to all these words?” 
  • Libraries and open data – DCMS. ” On 5 August the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hosted (in a rather dreary windowless room!) a workshop for Taskforce members, front-line library practitioners and data experts to reflect on what had already been achieved and what the next steps should be.  “
  • Libraries Connected and CILIP publish new roadmap for future library development – Libraries Connected. “The report details seven key strands of work that will lead to long-term and co-ordinated improvements in the structural support for the sector. Work on some of these has already begun (as indicated) … The study found little appetite in library leadership, local or central government for a radical change to how public libraries are delivered. “
    • Nationally organised and funded infrastructure and creative programmes
    • National standards and accreditation to help define a quality service (currently being explored by Libraries Connected)
    • Nationally co-ordinated monitoring and evaluation (currently being explored by DCMS)
    • National digital public library service (led by British Library)
    • Regional development and support programme (led by Libraries Connected)
    • Nationally co-ordinated workforce development (led by Libraries Connected and CILIP)
    • Support for local authorities to explore new governance and delivery models for public libraries.”
  • Libraries Connected to trial new library support schemes – BookSeller. “The projects will see a national programme manager and regional engagement team to broker support and improve collaboration between library services. A national subject expertise bank to provide specialist advice on things like income generation, mentoring and service reconfiguration. Both pilots will be funded by the Libraries Taskforce and run until March 2020. It comes after a report commissioned by Libraries Connected from Activist Group suggested a new support model with five ways to help safeguard the service’s future.” … “In its entirety, the scheme would require £1.7m investment over three years, mainly through reallocation of existing investment”
    • A national programme manager and regional engagement team to broker support and improve collaboration between services
    • A national subject expertise bank to provide specialist advice on topics such as service transformation, income generation and mentoring
    • An online ‘Library library’ that shares evidence and advice and has tools to help manage transformation and innovation locally
    • An ‘engine for evidence’ to pilot standards for new library standards and commission research on the impact of services
    • An advocacy campaign to highlight the contribution of libraries to local priorities and communities.
  • PMLG & ILG National Conference 2019: Information Literacy in Public Libraries – PMLG. “Often overlooked, information literacy stands at the core of a public library’s purpose. Whether it is teaching children how to answer their own questions or supporting retirees to get online, public libraries daily contribute to the development of information literacy skills within their communities, Safeguarding, signposting and navigating information sources requires highly-developed multi-platform, critical awareness. This conference delivers a diverse portfolio of the necessary information literacy skills for the job.”
  • World Book Day 2020 Launch – World Book Day. Lists the titles for next year.

International news

  • Australia – One for the books: the unlikely renaissance of libraries in the digital age – Sydney Morning Herald. “With the rise of the internet, public libraries were supposed to be on borrowed time. But they’re thriving – their renaissance as much about community as the literary riches they contain.” … “So relaxed is the atmosphere that when someone produced a foot spa, plugged it in and started using it, others presumed this was a new service the library was offering. According to Dullard, a queue quickly formed at the counter. “People were saying, ‘Where’s my foot spa?’ ””

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Funding confirmed for Aberdeenshire library funding project – Press and Journal. “Highland’s Mind Hubs: Mental agility, physical dexterity was awarded £5,400 and Comic Con Hebrides in the Western Isles received £3,815. Aberdeenshire library services have been awarded £70,000 to further their One System, One Card, One Step Closer project. The project will enhance the existing One Card pilot, with a view to moving to a single library card covering fifty per cent of public library services. Eleven public library projects across Scotland are sharing a combined fund of £201,269 from Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) which supports the transformation and modernisation of public libraries through the enhancement of creative projects.”
  • Bolton – Bolton Library to host ‘Wikipedia Editathon’ – Bolton News. “On Saturday, September 21, from 2-4pm Bolton Central Library will host an expert from the encyclopedia-themed website. The volunteers will create submissions referencing the LGBT community and the exhibition at Bolton Museum, which is celebrating a year since reopening. Organisers have asked for anyone interested to get involved”
  • Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole – Letter to the editor: Libraries are no longer about peace and quiet – Daily Echo. “Why are public libraries so neglectful of those who yearn for a civilised, non-threatening atmosphere and wish only to make beneficial use of their limited resources? The thoughtless and ruthless decimation of book stocks in recent years to make space for personal computers and concomitant disappearance of most book cases has reduced their interiors to mere shells of what they once were, the resulting open plan layouts crying out for reallocation with new meeting rooms, work tables or private booths. “
  • Bradford – Angry residents told Bradford library cuts are an ‘act of cultural vandalism’ – Unite the Union. “A packed public meeting has been told that plans by Bradford council to cut the libraries and museum services by two thirds (65 per cent) is an ‘act of cultural vandalism’. Over 160 members of the public yesterday, (Wednesday 18 September) crammed into Keighley Civic Centre to listen to concerns about the future of the service. They heard how the planned cuts of 65 per cent from the libraries, galleries and museums service, will lead to job cuts and the closure of public assets.” … “The council’s proposed cuts to the library and museums services which will see two million pounds cuts from the service over the next two years, coincides with Bradford council earmarking £1.4 million to prepare a bid for city of culture in 2025.”
  • Brent – Celebrations with celebrity sparkle as Kensal Rise Library re-opens after lengthy battle – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Kensal Rise Community Library, in Bathurst Gardens, is launching with a Grand Opening Ceremony this Saturday at 2pm on the anniversary of its opening by Mark Twain in 1900. The library was closed along with five others by Brent Council in 2011 to save £1million. Since then the community has relentlessly campaigned, fundraised and finally, refurbished the replaced space. “
    • Kensal Rise Library to reopen after epic community battle – BookSeller. “The library was shut down by Brent Council in 2011, sparking a huge campaign supported by writers including Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson and Zadie Smith. Following a fight that included a judicial review at the high court, the building is being redeveloped into flats but with space on the ground floor for a community facility, run by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library. Thousands of pounds have been raised to refurbish the space and campaigners have promised an “emotional celebration” from 2pm on 28th September with a reading from Grieg and the unveiling of the library’s original Mark Twain plaque.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Changes at Buckingham Library as part of council cutbacks – Buckingham Today. £160k cut. “The review of library services will save more than £160,000 but inevitably it has not been easy, particularly on our staff. “However, what this has managed to do is protect any changes to our library opening hours, which is good news for the thousands of local people who use our libraries each week. “We tried hard to match our existing staff to new posts and, out of more than 100 staff countywide, we have managed to keep compulsory redundancies down to three, with just one from Buckingham.”
  • Calderdale – Investment of £2m in Calderdale libraries but some are facing the axe – Halifax Courier. “although efforts are being made to keep two local services, if not in the buildings they have been housed in, users may have to switch to the nearest alternatives … The council is investing £1.75 million at Elland Library, which would also turn the building into a community hub housing other services, and around £250,000 to complete vital repairs at Todmorden Library.”
  • Croydon – Croydon’s Selsdon library looks incredible after a massive refurb – My London. “After being closed for two months for a major refurbishment, Selsdon Library has reopened with a completely new look, and it does look fantastic! Soon residents will even be able to use the library after hours, when new technology is trialled. The library in Addington Road was officially reopened to the public on Saturday, August 10. And its new modern look is how all 13 Croydon libraries are expected to look within the next three years. The council is set to spend a total of £5 million upgrading all of the borough’s libraries.”
  • Dundee – New chapter for Coldside Library after major refurbishment – Courier. “The refurbished Coldside Community Library opened its doors on to the community after six months of work. Improvements include a new lift, accessible toilets, hospitality facilities and new interior decorations. Funded by Dundee City Council, the new features in the listed building also include new lighting, meeting rooms, library counter, flooring, refurbished windows and painted railings outside.”
  • Durham – Bishop Auckland Town Hall closes to become cultural hub – Northern Echo. “Durham County Council is investing £1.5m into refurbishing Bishop Auckland Town Hall, in an effort to improve its layout and facilities. To allow the work to take place, the market place venue will close from Saturday, August 31, until next Spring. Other meeting places have been secured for groups that meet in the hall and arrangements have been made to ensure residents can access library services during the closure. “
  • Essex – War of words erupts over Manningtree Library’s future in leaked email – Gazette News. “Campaigners have criticised a veteran Tory councillor who said he is “sick and tired” of a debate on the future of a town’s library. In a leaked email, Tendring councillor for Manningtree Carlo Guglielmi referred to some Save Our Libraries Essex campaigners as “left wing extremists”. He said campaigners for Manningtree Library could “wrap the thing in aspic and be done with it”. “
  • Glasgow – Young Glaswegians borrowed thousands of books during holidays thanks to Summer Reading Challenge – Extra. “Across Glasgow 4,085 children headed to their local library during the summer holidays to borrow a whopping 41,436 books, as the annual Summer Reading Challenge took the city’s 0-12 year olds by storm.”
    • Langside library now has a tranquil space – Evening Times. “Volunteer gardeners have helped turn derelict land outside Langside Library into a tranquil space in the heart of the South Side community. A team of more than 30 volunteers volunteers, supported by Glasgow Life and Langside, Battlefield and Camphill Community Council, developed their inner city oasis to celebrate the rich diversity of the local area. “
    • Plans for £2.5m library move could lead to Parkhead revamp – Evening Times. “Parkhead Library could move into a new East End healthcare hub as part of a £2.5million scheme which would pave the way for the regeneration of Parkhead Cross. The plan would see one of the city’s Carnegie-funded libraries moved from its Grade B-listed building at the corner of Tollcross Road and Helenvale Street to the proposed East End Health and Social Care Partnership Hub (HSCP) building. “
  • Guernsey – Not everything needs to be a debate – Medium. “A local library hosts a free, inclusive reading session for children. It’s completely optional to attend, co-organised by two charities, and hosted by an experienced, DBS-checked entertainer, who just so happens to be a drag queen. Amid accusations of ‘creepiness’ and, at worst, ‘indoctrination’, I ask: how did it get to this?” … “LGBT+ people exist. And I’m tired of people using stories like this as a chance to scapegoat their homophobia.”
  • Haringey – Millions of pounds to be invested to improve Haringey libraries – Enfield Independent. “Despite losing £1,000 per house hold, the council decided to keep all of its libraries open and will invest £5.5 million to update them. Earlier this summer Haringey Labour agreed to invest £3.77million into Hornsey Library to further enhance it. The library is set to be remodelled with new interiors, carpets, decoration and lighting, while there will be improved provision for young people, including the children’s area. “
  • Hertfordshire – Swap your old slippers for free – Hertfordshire County Council. “Old worn out slippers are often responsible for trips and falls, which can lead to an unnecessary hospital stay and loss of independence. As we head into winter we organise ‘Slipper Swap’ events where older people and less mobile residents can swap their old slippers for a brand new free pair of anti-slip ones and find out more about keeping themselves safe and well “
  • North Yorkshire – Newcastle Building Society provides much-needed support to volunteer-run library in Stokesley – Business Up North. “Newcastle Building Society will provide financial support for at least the next three years for Stokesley Library to use towards any funding gaps, and further enhance the library facility and community activities. As part of the support, the Society will also provide an ongoing series of talks which will focus on a range of community needs, including: talks on Dementia Awareness, retirement planning, internet security, buying a house and investment and estate planning.”
    • Eyes down for Book Bingo at North Yorkshire libraries – North Yorkshire County Council. “To take part, players need to read any library book that fits the various challenges on the card until they complete a line. The 24 challenges range from “read a book that was made into a film” and “read a book with a number in the title”. After completing their challenges, players can hand the card to the library to be entered into a prize draw to win a book token. Readers can pick up another card and play again.”
    • New Garden for Newby & Scalby Library – Scarborough News. “Over 2,300 people voted to turn the patch of scrub land behind the library into a community garden with access for all and on Saturday many of them turned out to see Barbara cut a ribbon and declare the garden open”
  • Reading – Multi-use Community Hub To Open At Battle Library – Reading.co.uk. “Battle Library will reopen to the public as a multi-use community hub for west Reading on Tuesday 17th September, following major building improvement work over the summer … Work on the £400K project, funded through developer contributions from nearby housing schemes, got underway in May. The transformation has created a new single storey rear extension alongside internal reorganisation and improvements. The extension has an office space and houses the adult library, which opens up to an outside deck area. An eco-friendly green roof of hardy alpines plants has been installed on the extension.”
  • Redbridge – Gants Hill Library – They Work For You. Conservative asks Sadiq Khan: “Having previously promised that residents would be able to choose between keeping Gants Hill Library as a library or replacing it with a Hub, the Leader of Redbridge Council is now seeking to renege on his promise to hold a Consultation which gives residents a real choice as to whether they want the hub or retain the library, by not including the option to retain the library in the ongoing consultation. “
  • Stoke on Trent – ‘This is a fantastic new space’ – £380,000 library opens for pupils and residents – Stoke Sentinel. “The community learning centre at Trentham Academy will be used by the school and the wider community, replacing the old Trentham Library which closed in 2013. Stoke-on-Trent City Council provided the capital funds for the facility, but its ongoing running costs will be met by the academy. And volunteer group Trentham Reads will run a book hire service for the general public in the building, with stock loaned from the council’s library service.”
  • Surrey – Surrey’s libraries to take global inspiration in bid to improve – County Border News. “How its library service is going to change is still in the planning stages, but officers said they hope to have more details for cabinet members in November. The transformation of the library service is part of SCC’s £250m savings by 2021. Changes are running slightly behind schedule.”
  • Warrington – Warrington Museum & Library to become a ‘Fun Palace’ – Warrington Worldwide. “On Saturday October 5, organisations across the country will be taking part in the national “Fun Palace” campaign aimed at putting culture at the heart of communities, and communities at the heart of culture.”
    • Museum & Library reopens following revamp – Warrington Worldwide. “The venue underwent the revamp in a bid to re-energise the building and transform it into a creative hub – with increased links between the museum and library services.” The project, which has been a joint venture between Culture Warrington and LiveWire, has seen a number of cosmetic changes to the building, in addition to a more integrated approach to activities and opening hours – including Sunday opening for the first time.”
    • Stockton Heath Library reopens following £195,000 redevelopment – Warrington Borough Council. “Stockton Heath Library, on Alexandra Road, is the first of the town’s libraries to benefit from Warrington Borough Council’s £1m library investment programme.”
  • West Sussex West Sussex libraries safe from closures ‐ but there may still be changes – Chichester Observer. “One of the options was to save up to £500,000 by making some changes to the library services – such as closing several branch libraries, reducing opening hours and removing the mobile library service …. But several months later Mrs Russell said: “I know how important they [libraries] are to the people who use them and I want to reassure residents across West Sussex that I want to protect services not shut them down.” However the authority is looking at areas of the service where it thinks it can make savings while preserving the core of the service. These include looking at stopping the mobile library service and reducing late evening library opening times.

ACE decide public libraries warrant a full-time director, and encourage a bit of diversity in leadership too


Major pieces of news are fewer than normal due to it being the Summer but a few things are prominent. The first is that, finally, Arts Council England, have finally made their director for public libraries a full-time position. This has -hitherto been just a half-time post combined with the Birmingham are. Many felt that this under-rated public libraries in comparison to the other sectors ACE covers and so it’s great to see this changed. It surely won’t be long now before that organisation starts occasionally putting libraries first in a list of what sectors they cover in their official documents.

“Our Executive Board has decided that, from 1 December 2019, I will be migrated from my current role into a new 100% role of Director Libraries. This will provide significant additional senior capacity to ensure that our work around libraries is fully integrated into the delivery of the new 10 Year Strategy and further develop our Libraries work and programme. ”

Sue Willliamson by email

The other national thing is the £342k put forward by ACE to boost diversity in public libraries leadership. This is welcome but a tiny part of the, wow, £7.1 million that ACE has put aside across all of its portfolio for the same thing. Even though some of this other funding will be open to libraries (we will see, though, how much actually does come that way), that money will cover help for just 15 (that’s fifteen, not 50 or 150) people, although it’s hoped the training developed will be of use to others. Fingers crossed but 15 looks a bit, well, token, doesn’t it? And that is never a good look when diversity is the issue.

Locally, the big obvious things are the ongoing tassle in Essex over the council wanting to cut funding to libraries; Calderdale cutting some libraries while co-locating and improving others; Staffordshire passing yet more branches to community groups and Norfolk adopting staff-less technology almost wholesale.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to see the poet Joseph Coelho continuing his epic mission to get a library card from every library service in the country. This is great publicity locally and should finally also ensure he never gets mistaken for that chap Paulo by public librarians yet again.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts Council England makes £7.1m available to boost diversity – Charity Digital. “Arts Council England has made £7.1 in grants available to encourage diversity and leadership skills among those working in arts and culture organisations, including charities.”
    • Libraries Connected launches training scheme to tackle lack of diversity – BookSeller. “The Leading Libraries scheme will recruit 15 emerging leaders from different library services, offering them development training and the chance to lead a project in their region. It will also offer training for their heads of service on recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce. In addition, each emerging leader will mentor two members of staff from their own service.” … “A study commissioned by CILIP in 2015 showed the library and information workforce was 78.1% female, yet 47% of men earned over £30,000 compared to just 37.3% of women. The figures also showed a huge 96.7% of the workforce identified as white.”

“We wanted to provide a substantial development programme that targeted library staff as well as their managers, which meant limiting the number of people involved. However, we will publish the training and development resources that that we create during the course so that individuals and services across the country can benefit from the programme.”

CILIP, via email
  • CILIP launches data project to ‘turn tide’ on library closures – BookSeller. “The organisation has been given £150,000 funding across two years from the Arts Council for its project, which now has a website built on the NationBuilder platform for political campaigning, and to also boost skills for librarians to run campaigns … 10,500 people are on the database already and the intention is to grow that number to up to 35,000 in the first year. A lot of the support comes through Facebook, where people share Libraries Deliver content and the numbers build.” [I have been informed there are several errors in this article – Ed.]
  • PMLG & ILG National Conference 2019: Information Literacy in Public Libraries – CILIP. 4 October, London. “information literacy stands at the core of a public library’s purpose. Whether it is teaching children how to answer their own questions or supporting retirees to get online, public libraries daily contribute to the development of information literacy skills within their communities, Safeguarding, signposting and navigating information sources requires highly-developed multi-platform, critical awareness. This conference delivers a diverse portfolio of the necessary information literacy skills for the job.”

International news

Drag Queen Story times

  • USA – Drag queen reading event meets community resistance in CA – GOP USA. “Billed as a way to create a sense of acceptance and tolerance, an event hosted by the city of Chula Vista will welcome drag queens for storytime at a library in Otay Ranch next month. And not everyone is happy about it. A group known as MassResistance, an anti-LGBTQ organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group, plans to stage a news conference Thursday to demand that the library event be canceled.”
  • Firestorm over Drag Queen Event Pushes City to Change Library Policies – Breitbart. “The Leander, Texas City Council voted 5-2 on August 15 to end library room rentals to the public in the wake of outcry over a controversial Drag Queen Story Hour presentation.”
  • Library board can’t agree on sex crime checks proposed after drag queen story event – Wichita Eagle. “A proposal to background-check people for past sex offenses before they are allowed to make presentations at Wichita libraries was put on hold Tuesday, after a split in the board between those who want a complete ban on sex offenders and those who want staff to have some leeway.”

Joseph Coelho tour

Local news by authority

FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is a volunteer-run community group of Sutton Coldfield residents who want to see our public libraries not just survive, but thrive at the heart of our community. We support and promote the current library service in Sutton Coldfield and facilitate a richly varied programme of events and activities in Sutton Coldfield Library and through library outreach, working in collaboration with paid professional library staff. On average we put on 2-4 events a week and since we became active library borrowing has increased 10%, library footfall has increased 49% (there are now over 130,000 visits to the library each year) and library membership (new members joining) has increased 97%. FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is expanding and we’re looking for additional Trustees to join our Board. We’re particularly keen to recruit a Trustee with library experience. 
If you leave near enough Sutton Coldfield to attend out monthly Trustee meetings,  have worked or currently work in either a public or school library and would like to join our dynamic charity we’d love to hear from you. You can find full details in our Trustee recruitment pack:  http://foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk/join-us/.”  Birmingham via email.

  • Bradford – Health hub plan for library – Telegraph and Argus. “Library bosses are in talks with GPs to bring together a range of community health and well-being services in the historic building on North Street. Health services provided by voluntary groups and charities would sit alongside library services like book lending, local history and computers. The potential team-up – which is in its early stages – has grown out of moves by Bradford Council to cut millions of pounds from its libraries budget. ” … “The first round of cuts bite on September 1, involving management changes; a cut in the book fund to £298,300 per year; and Keighley, Bingley and Shipley becoming ‘hub libraries’ with a 30% reduction in staffing. ”
  • Calderdale – Big library shake up means £2 million investment but closures too – Examiner. “Around £2 million is set to be invested in Calderdale libraries, while other village libraries will face closure unless community solutions can be found, largely due to the buildings being unfit for purpose. Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the funding and changes to the way services are delivered at a number of libraries when it meets at Halifax Town Hall on Monday, September 2.”
  • Croydon – First look at modern revamp of Selsdon Library – Your Local Guardian. “If a trial at Selsdon Library is successful Open Plus technology could be rolled out at every library in Croydon. It means that anyone with a library card can access the library out of hours. “
  • Derby – Seventh Derby library to be handed over to city charity – Derbyshire Live. “Chellaston Library will be the latest – and seventh of 10 – to have its running passed to the Derby charity Direct Help and Advice (DHA). The library’s last day under council management will be Saturday, October 12 , when it will close to re-open under DHA operation from Monday, October 28.” During the temporary closure, the council will carry out training to enable a smooth transition for customers and volunteers alike. In the interim, customers can access and reserve books at other Derby libraries, with eBooks continuing to be accessible 24/7 online.  
  • Durham Bishop Auckland Town Hall closure: here’s what you need to know – Explorar.
  • Essex – Street party in a bid to stop Manningtree Library being run voluntarily – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Manningtree Library Action Group is holding the party as part of a county-wide action day over Essex County Council’s (ECC) plans to create community-run libraries on September 28. “
  • Flintshire – Flintshire’s Aura Leisure and Libraries named finalist in UK Social Enterprise Awards – Leader. “”The company has only been trading since September 2017 so to be recognised on a national scale for the work we do in sustaining and improving leisure, library and heritage services in Flintshire is fantastic and gives us huge encouragement for the future.’’ “
  • Inverness – Inverness scheme aims to bring folk together – Inverness Courier. “Supporting local entrepreneurs, freelancers, sole traders and start-ups, the new space is part of the new Scottish Coworking Network scheme.”
  • Lincolnshire New IT for Lincolnshire libraries will help online accessibility – Skegness Standard. “The council’s library provider, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) is working to introduce new computers and IT equipment at libraries and community hubs across Lincolnshire.”
  • Luton – Have your say on the future of Luton’s library services – Luton Today. “The council claim they will use the survey results to ensure that in future services better meet the needs of local communities. As part of the Luton Library Needs Survey users are being asked their views on the many services available at libraries in the town including book, CD and DVD borrowing, opportunities for seeking advice, attending classes and activities, using the online services and using the library as a place to work and study quietly.”
  • Norfolk – Do you know someone who lacks the confidence in reading? – KLFM. “A learner would be matched with a Reading Pathway Volunteer and they’d then work through the ‘Yes we can read’ handbook.”
    • How you can access your local library – even when the staff aren’t there – Fakenham Times. “orfolk County Council has revealed 10 more locations for its open library scheme, which creates time slots where members can access services outside of regular opening times – without the building being staffed. First introduced in June 2018 in 30 different libraries, members can sign up to be given access to the services at certain times when a member of staff is not present – providing they do not have a history of misusing the service”
  • Northamptonshire – Investigation finds Desborough town councillors breached conduct codes over library issue – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Chair of the town council, Jean Read, along with fellow Independents for Desborough councillors Gil Holmes, Linda Burnham and Steve Draycott will have to apologise for their failure to declare their interests in the charity Desborough Library and Community Hub (DCLH) at the council’s next meeting and admit they breached the code of conduct.”
    • Northamptonshire libraries rescue plan moves step closer – BBC. Council “decided instead that 17 would be taken over by community groups, whose business plans have now been ratified, with just 14 remaining council-run. Deputy council leader Lizzy Bowen said they ensured “an efficient service… despite the budgetary constraints”. The remaining five library branches will offer statutory services and be managed by community groups, and are being helped by the council to develop their business plans.”
    • Library Service Review update – Northamptonshire County Council.
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries to screen films for those who struggle to access cinemas – Harrogate News. “One film will be for older people with memory problems, their partners, family members and carers. The other will be a relaxed screening for families who have a child with autism or other special needs. The showings will be more informal than the cinema, with room to move about, brighter lighting and no need to be silent. There will be a chance to chat during the interval over refreshments, and activities related to the film will be available to do on the day or to take home.”
  • Oldham – Oldham libraries celebrate receiving more than one million visitors – Oldham Council. There are only 220k people living in Oldham. “To further increase both visitor numbers and literacy levels among young people we abolished library fines on all books at a Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 July … The library will be welcoming a new building in the winter of 2021 when OMA launches. The new heritage and arts centre for Oldham (OMA), will transform Oldham’s former Library, Museum and Art Gallery into a vibrant multi-use cultural complex on Union Street.”
  • Shropshire – Oswestry Town Council library grant for dementia shared memory bags welcomed – Advertizer. £1k. “”Our current range of loanable Shared Memory Bags on themes such as music, travelling, childhood and pets is very popular and provides a fun, interactive and therapeutic experience free of charge to anyone with a library ticket. “
  • Staffordshire – Libraries celebrate as more than 10,000 children take the Summer Reading Challenge – Staffordshire Newsroom.
    • Landmark for Staffordshire libraries – Tamworth Informed. “This month’s transfer of the day-to-day management and delivery of Penkridge library to Penkridge Parish Council is the 27th successful completion and marks the end of the fourth phase of this four-year community library programme. Staffordshire’s library service now has more than 950 volunteers contributing at its 27 community-run libraries and the 16 that remain under direct council management.”
  • Warrington – Celebrating the history of Warrington’s museum and library – Warrington Worldwide. “Now Culture Warrington and LiveWire, which together run library, museum, arts, archives and heritage services from the building on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, have plans to re-energise the space as a creative hub, with a nod to the building’s origins as a combined museum and library.” … “The rejuvenation, which aims to establish the building as a creative hub and increase links between the museum and library services, will bring about cosmetic improvements as well as the aligning of activities and opening hours, including Sunday opening for the first time.”
  • Wokingham – Woodley Library Is Getting A Face-lift – Reading. “The work includes relocating and replacing the entrance doors, replacing the glass frontage of the building, improving the heating system and replacing some of the furniture.  Following the renovations, there will be more flexibility in how the space in the library can be used, allowing a wider range of activities and improved comfort to those using the space.  “
  • Worcestershire – Redditch Library receives £1k worth of new books after winning challenge – Redditch Standard. “The library recently won the community group/library category of the 200 million minutes challenge, organised by educational group Achievement for All. The challenge aimed for 200 million minutes to be read between World Book Day in March this year and Children’s Book Day in April.”

Diversity under attack in Devon, council’s ploys seen through in Essex and a look at the library as a perfect place to work


I am sorry to see that Devon has suffered attacks from various quarters about have a drag queen story time or two in their libraries, although with the critical responses being thankfully less overtly religious or fanatical than those in the USA. I see such story times, and the willing embrace of diversity in the sector, as a definite highpoint of the last decade and hope that services do not bow to pressure and take the seemingly easy way out.

The public response to the deep cuts in Essex have been uniformly reassuring since they were first announced. First they protested in force and, now that the council has retracted its plans slightly, have noticed that they’re still trying to force local groups to replace paid staff. Such groups are saying clearly that they do not wish to do so. Hopefully, what is already a partial defeat for Essex will become a complete one and will show that closures or large-scale forcing of libraries to become volunteer is not an unavoidable conclusion when cuts are announced. Indeed, let us hope that the only way to respond to library cuts in future is Essex.

Finally, thank to Alex Klaushofer for her excellent review of a few public libraries in Europe. There are some stunners out there and the need for such places to offer quiet study spaces as well as shiny innovations is explored well. So have a sit down quietly some time in your library and have a read of it.

Changes by authority

National news

  • 12 incredible libraries in the UK that need to be on every bookworm’s bucket list – Mirror. Includes the normal big public libraries – Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
  • Britain’s infrastructure is breaking down. And here’s why no one’s fixing it – Guardian. ““The library really is a palace. It bestows nobility on people who can’t otherwise afford a shred of it. People need to have nobility and dignity in their lives. And, you know, they need other people to recognise it in them too.”
  • Build the library of the future – Libraries Week. “Participants should use LEGO to form the structure of their library build but are free to get creative and use other materials to bring your library to life. ” Prize includes trip to Legoland and £500 for local library.
  • Digital Development In Libraries with Pamela Tulloch And Lindsey Henderson – Princh. Experience in Scotland of barriers and opportunities.
  • Lee Child’s Night School named UK’s most borrowed library book – BookSeller. “Figures released today from UK public libraries, compiled using Public Lending Right (PLR) data, showed the Jack Reacher thriller was most popular. In all, 101,636 loans of the book were made, well above the 71,000 recorded by the previous year’s most borrowed novel, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Transworld).” Child was followed by John Grisham’s The Whistler (Hodder), with both writers appearing twice in the top 10. Continuing the trend for thrillers, Michael Connelly had two books in the top five, with The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Orion) at number three and The Late Show (Orion) at number five.”
  • National public library data – Libraries Hacked. “ational library statistics provide high-level comparative stats. For example, issues per year, per authority. Not much about individual libraries. The problem with this data is that it has no obvious use. No local authority would accept data without the detail of each library. So why compile such data at a national level? Although the end goal is to have national data, the starting point needs to be local data in a standard form …”
  • Paradise Found: In search of the perfect Library – Public Libraries News. Alex Klaushofer argues that, in the 21st-century, the public library has a vital role to play as a place to be and work. Spending some time as an itinerant researcher, she unexpectedly finds her perfect library workspace in a far-flung European city.
  • Practical solutions for a single digital presence – CILIP. “The report, Digital Transformation for UK Public Libraries: five approaches to a ‘single digital presence’ published on 6 June, explains how it selected five of the most likely ways to deliver ‘a single digital presence’. It then goes further, whittling it down to three. And more work is being done: “We’re doing a second scoping piece at the moment, a bit more user testing of what people want and will provide some more actionable recommendations that can very much start to move this forward. The sector has been waiting quite a while now and we’re conscious of that.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Holyhead Library begins new chapter with move to historic market hall – North Wales Chronicle. “The ambitious project to revitalise Holyhead Market Hall is set to be completed later this year. However, the town’s new library opens its doors to the public on September 2, after the old library, on Newry Street, closes on Saturday, August 17” … “An exciting new event space is found at the heart of the library, where an array of activities and events will be held. Visitors to the library can also take advantage of the flexible social space to meet friends, take part in reading groups or just enjoy a chat. “. Includes Changing Places toilet.
  • Bradford – MP enters debate over cuts to Bradford museums and libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West has criticised Bradford Council’s plans to slash the budget for the services, reducing the department’s budget by 65 per cent over two years. Details of what the cuts will look like will not be revealed until September, but the Council has announced that it will be cutting its museums and galleries budget, currently, £1.8 million, by £500,000 in 2020/21. “
  • Bromley – Library staff and union members united in protest to Bromley library cuts – London News Online. “There are currently 50 library workers at GLL’s 14 libraries across Bromley who have been on strike since June 6. The dispute began when library workers across Bromley said that GLL had let members of staff go without replacing them, creating an increase in workload which was not reflected in their pay.” … “A spokeswoman for GLL said: “Once again we refute the allegations made by Unite. We operate a fair deal on pay and consider the union’s inflation busting six per cent pay claim unrealistic and unaffordable”
    • Demonstrations planned at Bromley libraries as workers continue to strike – Bromley Borough News. Demonstrations to be held. ““We have had a constructive meeting with GLL to discuss our main priority – staffing. During the consultation before the contract was handed to GLL, Bromley’s Tory councillors were quoted that there would be no loss of professional staff. We are now awaiting staffing proposals from GLL which we expect to reflect this commitment.”
  • Cambridgeshire – MP Steve Barclay celebrates successful 4th year of Read to Succeed with £18,000 of donated books handed to every Year 4 & 5 child in NE Cambs – Cambs Times. “”Read to Succeed aims to help combat this. In the back of every book donated is a library token which each child can take to their local library and take part in the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.”
  • Camden – Transforming Kentish Town Library – Ideas Day – Camden Council. “Camden Council is investing £1.5 million to make sure that libraries best meet the needs of our communities now and in the future: This work is being piloted in Kentish Town Library, where over the last few months the Council has been talking to local residents, library users and partner organisations about their ideas for the library. The Ideas Day aims to share initial design ideas developed from these conversations, and get residents’ help in choosing the ideas to take forward and make happen …”
  • Croydon – Revamped Selsdon Library has officially re-opened – Guardian series. “As part of a refurbishment of the library in Addington Road, Selsdon will be the first library in Croydon to trial Open+ technology. ” … “Next on the list to be upgraded are Norbury and Thornton Heath libraries.  Norbury Library in will temporarily close for a £1 million refurbishment on August 31, reopening in Spring 2020. “
  • Cumbria – Barrow wins £2m grant as it bids to become UK destination of culture – The Mail. “The Barra Culture team is made up of Women’s Community Matters, Brathay Trust, Natural England, Art Gene, Signal Film and Media, Full of Noises, and Ashton Group Theatre, as well as Cumbria Libraries, and Barrow Borough Council. “
  • Derbyshire – Only half of council’s libraries handed to volunteers have groups to run them – Derbyshire Live. “A council has revealed that only 10 out of 20 libraries it intends to hand to volunteers have community groups fit to take them on. This comes eight months after Derbyshire County Council finalised its proposals to stop running 20 of its 45 libraries in order to save £1.6 million. It formally invited community groups to come forward to take on the 20 under-used libraries in March. Since then, only half the libraries set to be moved out of county council management have had community groups come forward with robust enough plans to take them on.”
  • Devon – Drag queen teaches kids to ‘twerk’ at library story hour – Lifesite News. “A drag queen in the United Kingdom was caught on camera teaching small children at a library story hour how to perform the sexually-suggestive dance move called “twerking.”
  • Dudley – Blackheath and Cradley libraries to host free breakfasts this summer – Cotsworld Journal.
  • Durham – Bishop Auckland Town Hall closes to become cultural hub – Northern Echo. “Improvements will include the creation of a new café, bar and contemporary art gallery space on the ground floor, as well as enhanced library facilities.”
  • Essex – Campaigners: Libraries boss ‘put gun to people’s heads’ – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Our Libraries Essex has condemned County Hall’s revised libraries strategy, which will see volunteer groups given a small grant over three years to keep services running, as “closure by stealth”. Groups, including those in Coggeshall and Holland-on-Sea, have withdrawn their offers to run libraries. The campaign group has produced an information pack which it has sent to town and parish councils warning of the “impossible job” community groups would face. “
    • ‘Our libraries must be saved’ – Braintree and Witham Times. “Mr Coates said: “The really essential part of a library strategy in Essex – or anywhere else- is to reverse the decline in use. “It is perfectly possible to do that by concentrating on the strengths that libraries have in the eyes of people who might use them.”
    • ‘Stealth closures’: Essex groups back away from volunteer-run libraries – Guardian. “On Monday, Tracey Vickers, who led a bid by Coggeshall residents to take over a branch, said they had felt pressured into submitting an expression of interest in order to secure a meeting with the council, which had “repeatedly refused on the grounds that they were ‘too busy and couldn’t meet every community group’”.”
    • Volunteers urged to pull out of offers to take on libraries – Braintree and Witham Times. “Sole condemned County Hall libraries boss Susan Barker’s proposal, claiming community groups would not only be responsible for staffing and fully running libraries, but housing them as well. A spokesman said: “The purpose of our information pack is to ensure every single community group thinking of volunteering knows they no longer have to as a last resort to save their library.”
    • Villagers ditch their bid to run libraries – Braintree and Witham Times. “Groups in Coggeshall, Holland-on-Sea, Chigwell and Harlow have pulled their offers in a move which has been welcomed by campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (Sole). “
  • Fife – Dunfermline-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie would be ‘sad to see decline of libraries’, says museum on centenary of death – Courier. “Our busy exhibition and library events programme continues his ethos of enriching the lives of people through culture and it is a privilege to manage the first-ever Carnegie Library in the world – one of 2,800 worldwide – and have it housed in the award-winning five-star visitor attraction that is Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.”
  • Flintshire – Employee-owned leisure centres and libraries welcome over 1.5 million visits in one year News from Wales. “Providing culture, sport and leisure opportunities to the region, the social enterprise recorded an impressive 1.1 million visits to its leisure centres and 600,000 visits to its libraries in the last 12 months.”
  • Hertfordshire – Having charity running libraries deprives councils of business rates – St Albans Review. “… it is estimated it will cost the 10 districts and boroughs – who each receive a chunk of the business rates collected – hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost income. Liberal Democrat Cllr Sara Bedford – who is a county councillor and leader of Three Rivers District Council – estimates that Three Rivers will lose £22,000 a year as a result of the change – adding up to £110,000 over the five-year library contract. “
  • Kirklees – Almondbury Library holds fun filled open day in exciting new dementia-friendly building – Kirklees Together. “The lighting, acoustics, furniture, walls, carpet and signage were all considered and there are cues and clues to help people use the library as independently as possible. The aim is for all staff and volunteers to be Dementia Friends …”
  • Lancashire – New chapter beckons for Lytham’s library service – Blackpool Gazette. “The new library is in the Assembly Rooms in Dicconson Terrace following the closure of the service in its long-time home, the Institute building in Clifton Street, by the County Council’s previous Labour administration in September 2016. The Assembly Rooms has been let on a long lease to the County Council by Lytham Town Trust and will feature more than 4.300 books along with facilities for baby bounce and rhyme, toddler rhyme time and digital support sessions.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Airdrie MP criticises plans to reduce opening hours at Monklands libraries – Daily Record. “ast week’s Advertiser told how evening opening at Airdrie and Coatbridge libraries is to be reduced from four nights to two and Chapelhall library will close on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Chryston library will reduce to opening on three days per week instead of the current five and will lose its late night, and Moodiesburn will close on Friday afternoons, as part of a Culture NL programme to find required savings of £400,000.”
  • North Yorkshire – Author embarks on library-joining marathon – North Yorkshire County Council.
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire school takes over library from cash-crisis council – BBC. “Northgate School Arts College, which already runs a cafe and sweet shop, will take over Northampton’s Kingsthorpe Library. Its head said pupils would “love the structured environment” of a library.” … “Head teacher Sheralee Webb said the library, which will pay £15,300 per year to lease the building, would be supported by crowdfunding for up to the first two years.” … “Ms Webb said running a library would be a “learning curve for all of us” but that it would be “ideal” for pupils who might find a traditional work placement difficult.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Poet-on-a-mission picks up library card at Pitlochry – Courier. “Joseph Coelho has challenged himself to join more than 200 libraries up and down the country, in an effort to highlight their importance to local communities. The aim is to sign-up to libraries in each local authority area and hopefully encourage others to do the same.”
  • Perthshire – 3D facilities will be available in Perthshire libraries – Daily Record. “AK Bell Library in Perth already has a Digital Maker Space, which has already proven to be extremely popular, with visitors, artists and local entrepreneurs taking advantage of the superb digital resources.” Another one to be added at Strathearn.
  • Sheffield – Poor choice of magazines in libraries, says councillor – Sheffield Telegraph. “A councillor has questioned why Sheffield libraries no longer stock political magazines but do offer random ones which are of “no interest” to people.” … ““For example, there is little choice of magazines covering politics and current affairs in Central Library, which no longer stocks magazines such as Private Eye, but stocks magazines of little to no interest for most people such as Football Stadium Management Magazine.”
  • St Helens – Moving library into one of our best exhibition spaces seems a strange way to go – St Helens Star. “… as an artist moving the library into one of the best exhibition spaces in the North West (The World of Glass) seems a strange way to go.  The large exhibition space as you go in is second to none for flexibility for so many art mediums and exhibitions with the wonderful floor to ceiling windows.”
  • Warrington – Stockton Heath Library to reopen next month – Warrington Worldwide. “Stockton Heath Library is to reopen on Monday September 2 following a 12-week, £195,000 redevelopment – that includes dementia friendly design throughout and more flexible activity and events spaces. The library, on Alexandra Road, is the first of the town’s libraries to benefit from Warrington Borough Council’s £1m library investment programme.

A few cans of library worms


There are subjects that one learns not to talk about in uncertain company. At the moment, Brexit is most certainly that in the UK while I imagine Trump and gun control (or in their incredible lack of it) serve the same role in the USA. But there are specific library subjects where one has learnt that raising them runs the risk of exploding the room. So, in the proud PLN tradition of never knowing when to shut up, here’s a few that will get you angry, nodding or groaning.

The first is library visitor numbers and how inaccurate they are. Few libraries even have a proper system for counting patrons and even they often shrug when asked what happens if you get a member hanging around by the door, walking in and out. Then you get the question of what actually is a library visitor. In the old days, it was simple – someone who came in was using the  library – but not any more. That person could be visiting to access a council service embedded in the library. Are they still using the library then if they’re reporting a death? Really? What if they’re using a post office inside it or a college? One suspects they’re also counted as visitors. Which makes me worried as, if that is the case with all the extra services being shoehorned in then, well, library visits should be going through the roof in the UK. But they’re not. One fears that this problem amongst library services (and don’t get me started on the joke that is CIPFA) about visitor numbers and why we should not to question them that is hiding an even deeper malaise within the system.

The second can is about what we should actually call those visitors to the library. But first, let’s say I am deeply embarrassed about many things the library sector has failed to get to grips on. The lack of a national website is especially pitiful as is the absence of anything resembling a UK or even England-wide promotional campaign for the service. Both those failures have at their core the atomisation of public libraries into 200 or so different  bodies in the UK who, while willing to work together, are all unable to actually do so on a grand scale, even with Libraries Connected received hundreds of thousands of pounds. So that’s explainable. What isn’t is the failure of the library professional worldwide to actually work out what to call those who use their services. The  words borrowers, patrons, clients, members, readers and – shudder – customers are all used and many more. I’ve used several deliberately in this article already.  What one calls those using your service probably says more about you and your standpoint than anything else. Being neutral as heck, I’d go with “user” (it’s not an IT term really, not any more, so get over it) but wow is there a lack of a common front on this issue. Get it together, librarians.

Oh, and while I’m at it, that term “librarians”. It’s clear what it means inside the sector, or used to be, but outside of it it means anyone who works in a library. Get over that. Many professions have such divides in staffing and don’t have that lack of understanding – the public knows the difference between an officer and a soldier, a doctor and a nurse – but they signally often do not know that about librarians. That they don’t is not their fault but ours. And it stands little chance of changing now. So accept that the public calls all of us librarians and don’t criticise them for it. I use the terms interchangeably myself on many occasions. Like all of this editorial.

Right, there’s a few cans of worms to start your week with.  Got any more. Answers on a postcard please if you are still one of those who refuse or are not allowed to use social media … ooh heck, there’s another.

I’ve just been told about the danger of thermal paper – the sort many front-line library staff use in receipts – causing a health risk if it contains something called BPA. It could be worth checking on the till rolls at your branches. There’s a lot of information online but it was news to me. See here and here. It looks like it’s a small risk but something that one needs to be careful of and yet another reason to wash your hands before eating food if you don’t do so already.


National news

  • Closing libraries means abandoning society’s most isolated and vulnerable – Guardian. “A passion for books and reading first drew me to library work, but empathy, belief in human rights and the importance of social activism kept me working in them. I’ve worked in libraries of all sizes, from large city ones to tiny mobile ones, but what they all had in common was how much they meant to the most vulnerable in their communities.”
  • The Guardian view on librarians: guides to life, not just to books – Guardian / Editorial. Librarians can be much more than book experts. Libraries are community as well as knowledge hubs, and should promote and harness civic activism. The 50,000 people now volunteering in English libraries have much to offer. But any government with a serious commitment to expanding educational opportunities for young and old would invest, not only in libraries, but in the people who work in them.”
  • How public libraries in England are engaging with their communities to decrease levels of loneliness – Aberystwyth University. “My name is Sharon Wright.  I am an undergraduate student at Aberystwyth University, studying a BSc in Information and library studies by distance learning. As part of my dissertation I am undertaking a research project under the supervision of Dr. Anoush Simon. The project is investigating how public libraries in England are engaging with communities to decrease levels of loneliness and social isolation and improve well-being and social inclusion.”
  • Tourism’s missing link – Central Library’s astonishing visitor numbers – Manchester Confidential. “Despite John Rylands Library being included in the top eleven of Manchester visitor attractions (with 242,892 guests) the most visited of all the Manchester region cultural tourist attractions is strangely absent. This is Central Library in St Peter’s Square which now attracts a staggering 1.6m visits. Since reopening in 2014 the figures have been continually improving” … “Birmingham Library shades Manchester’s Central Library with 1.8m visitors as the biggest visitor attraction outside London. Both prove that the most traditional of establishments, the library, still lies at the heart of what it means to be a civilised city, at the centre of the definition of ‘civic’. If you’ve not been recently then have another go.” compare with How libraries became tourism hotspots – Conversation.

International news

  • Global – Public Libraries and The Community – Princh.”Creating a public library that “speaks” to the community’s needs, allows the public to see the library as “theirs” which will make it the desired place for all age groups. Something library professionals and advocates fight to achieve.”
    • Customers, Members, and Users oh my – R David Lankes “For me it all comes back to how we think about the communities we serve and our relationship with them. During this most recent discussion I have heard the phrase owner and client. We will probably never have the perfect word, because we are seeking to encapsulate such a broad set of circumstances. Further, at the end of the day, so long as we are working with the community, and we are seeking to make our communities better we are doing it right.”
  • USA – A librarian’s case against overdue book fines – TEDx. “Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don’t actually do what we think they do. What if your library just … stopped asking for them altogether?”
    • Almost 100,000 signatures against drag queen events for kids – Christian Institute. “Nearly 100,000 signatures have been delivered to the American Library Association to protest against a programme for children involving drag queens. Drag Queen Story Hour, in place in libraries across at least 20 US states, is where men dressed as women read stories to children as young as three. Parents have highlighted the lack of age appropriateness, with one mother telling CBS: “There is a sexual side to drag queens, to what they are trying to teach”.
    • Libraries Act as Cooling Centers in Heatwaves – Book Riot. “Ana Raquel Nunes, a public health researcher at the University of Warwick in the UK, recently referred to visits to libraries and community centers as a wider support action during heatwaves. This is especially useful for people who are both particularly vulnerable to heat and less likely to have many resources to beat the heat. These include children, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and rough sleepers”
    • Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books – CNN. “Librarians to publishers: Please take our money. Publishers to librarians: Drop dead.” … “For the first two months after a Macmillan book is published, a library can only buy one copy, at a discount. After eight weeks, they can purchase “expiring” e-book copies which need to be re-purchased after two years or 52 lends. As publishers struggle with the continuing shake-up of their business models, and work to find practical approaches to managing digital content in a marketplace overwhelmingly dominated by Amazon, libraries are being portrayed as a problem, not a solution. Libraries agree there’s a problem — but we know it’s not us. “

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Union slams Bradford Council’s decision to back UK City of Culture bid– Telegraph and Argus. “A consultative ballot of approximately 50 Unite members working in libraries and museums is asking whether they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot. Bradford Council has previously announced major cuts to its libraries and museums service, amounting to a £1.05 million cut to library budgets and £500,000 to the museums service in 2020-21.”
  • Bromley – Bromley library workers strike against running down – Socialist Party. “The long-running strike at Bromley libraries has not lost its enthusiasm. Once again there was a large picket outside the main library. These have been interspersed with protests outside other Greenwich Leisure Limited-run facilities such as libraries, sports centre and swimming pools”
  • Edinburgh – Opinion: Lord Provost loves Edinburgh’s virtual libraries – Edinburgh Reporter.
    • Essex – Decision on future of Essex’s libraries called in for scrutiny – Clacton Gazette. “Revised plans for the future of Essex’s libraries were approved after a storm of protest. Opposition councillors have now called in the decision. The place services and economic growth policy and scrutiny committee will be left with three options – to uphold the decision, refer it back to the decision maker or ask full council to review it.”
    • ‘Essex isn’t known as a hotbed of radicalism’: how protests turned back library cuts – Guardian. “Protester Andy Abbott said: “Essex is not really known as a hotbed of radicalism, and I think they probably thought people would take it lying down, I think they thought it would all go under the radar. It has really stunned them, the level of protest.” … “Liz Miles, who is coordinating campaigns, said: “This is why people are very angry. All we know is from the strategy document is said “Neither has Essex county council acknowledged that the expressions of interest came largely from the draft survey, which threatened to close 44 libraries (25 of them in September) unless people came forward with offers of interest. We hope that most of these will be withdrawn, now we have been promised that there is no danger of closure.””
  • Essex – Essex library campaigners prepare legal challenge – Chelmsford and Mid Essex Times. “Campaigners have instructed leading law firm Watkins and Gunn to give legal advice for a potential legal challenge”
  • Halton – The anti-drug spray set to stop cocaine users in their tracks – Liverpool Echo. “Drug users in Runcorn and Widnes may be in for a nasty surprise as a new anti-cocaine spray hits the streets. The clear spray, named ‘BloKiT’, can be placed on most surfaces and works by causing powdered drugs such as cocaine to swell and stick to the surface.” To be trialled in libraries.
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire libraries handed to council-founded charity – BBC. “A council has awarded the contract to run its libraries to an organisation it set up, to save the authority £500,000 a year. Hertfordshire County Council, which runs 46 libraries, decided in October to contract-out the service. At the same time it set up Libraries for Life, a “public service mutual” organisation, to bid for the five-year contract, worth about £10m a year. It won the contract despite competition from other bidders. Councillor Terry Douris, responsible for the county’s libraries, said he was “delighted” that the organisation had won the contract following a “very detailed and robust procurement exercise”. … “saving an estimated £500,000 a year in business rates.”
  • Kent – New timetables will see Temple Hill and Dartford Library’s hours cut to save cash– News Shopper. “Temple Hill Library will suffer the most out of Dartford’s nine libraries as it will see its opening times shift drastically from 40 hours a week to just 17. This was followed by Dartford Library, which will see 15.5 hours chopped from its weekly operating schedule. However, other facilities across the borough will have their opening times boosted, including Greenhithe Library which will now open for 28 hours a week, an increase of 16 hours compared to its current schedule.”
  • Manchester – Poetry Library to host poem that aims to feature every language in Manchester – About Manchester.
  • North Lanarkshire – Cuts to library services in Newmains, Cleland and Shotts proposed by council – Daily Record. “Reducing late opening times and closing libraries on Saturday’s are just some of the plans as Culture and Leisure NL aims to save £400,000.” … “Proposals include closing Shotts and New Stevenston libraries on Saturdays, 2pm Friday closures at Newmains, New Stevenston, Shotts and Viewpark, and reducing late openings until 7pm at other centres around the region. The trust has also proposed scrapping late openings at Cleland and Newarthill libraries.”
  • Plymouth – Free lunches for Plymouth children at libraries this summer – Plymouth Herald. “Deputy council leader Peter Smith said: “Holiday hunger can be a real problem for many families in Plymouth and by joining in with Catered’s Big Summer Food Tour we can help those who may struggle to provide food and entertainment for children over the long summer holiday.”
  • Staffordshire – Harry Potter book bought for £1 sells for £28,500 at auction – BBC. “The 1997 book, published with two errors, was sold by Staffordshire libraries for £1 about 20 years ago.” … “Only 500 copies were published in the tale’s first print run, with 300 sent to libraries”
  • Suffolk – Surge in attendance figures marks seven years of Suffolk Libraries – Suffolk Libraries. “In 2018-19 there were 14,290 events and activities in libraries. These events saw attendances of nearly 201,000, an increase of over 14% from the previous year and 29% over the last four years.”

Go (North) West


So we have a new prime minister. Oh well. Moving on …

It’s great to see another library service going fines-free. Well done to Oldham, which is now the fifth in the North West alone to remove a key barrier to equality and usage, and the fourteenth in the UK as a whole. Also, in the North West I’m also delighted that Warrington – which went through an absolutely disastrous consultation about cuts a few years ago but has since come good – is looking to the future and that Manchester continues to go great guns. Elsewhere, outside of that region, things are less good, with ongoing drama in Northamptonshire and Essex as well as strike action brewing in Bradford.


National news

Opening the Book have been thinking

  • Libraries as a statutory service – DCMS. Useful information including how to complain about a cut library service.
  • Library closures scandal: parents urged to book a library trip in the summer holidays – Express. Mainly the Reading Agency press release but also Konnie Huq says “As a mother-of-two, I am all too well aware that public libraries can be a godsend during the long break. Feeling stressed before and during the summer holidays is all too common for many parents. Finding things to do and making sure your kids are enjoying every minute of their time can be a pretty full-on occupation. The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun, free activity for children which encourages reading for pleasure by providing access to books through local libraries.”
  • Library systems in use in UK library authorities – Local Government Library Technology. List of all library services with their provider, previous provider and consortia if applicable.
  • ‘Loss of library market making publishers risk-averse’, says Ann Cleeves – Bookseller. “Giving the closing keynote at the National Library Conference, held in Harrogate on Friday (19th July) as part of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Cleeves called on her audience to be “disruptive, subversive”, in supporting the library service, saying:  “We need libraries more than ever – when there is a danger fake news may triumph, we need places where truth is told; and when we are riven with disagreement we need places where we come together to discuss our differences reasonably; we also need a place to escape.””
  • Magus of the Library Volume 1 Review – Anime UK News. “Magus of the Library, from publisher Kodansha Comics, is a relatively new series (only three  volumes in Japan so far), which promises to show us why libraries and books are so important. Set in a fantasy world, it aims to both teach and entertain with a collection of quirky and lovable characters – but does it deliver? Let’s find out!”
  • PM speech at Manchester Science and Industry Museum  – BBC. Boris Johnson said “… And we’re now going to have a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns. So that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need. They’ll also get help with that vital social and cultural infrastructure, from libraries and art centres to parks and youth services: the institutions that bring communities together, and give places new energy and new life …”
  • Use of Volunteers in Public Libraries – Sheffield University. “I’m completing an MA degree in Librarianship and I’m currently carrying out my dissertation research on ‘The Use of Volunteers in Public Libraries’. I am looking for paid staff working in public libraries across the UK to complete a short online questionnaire on the topic of volunteers in libraries.”

International news

  • Canada – Vancouver Pride bans library from parade over event featuring ‘transphobic’ activistCBC. “The pride society says the decision is a result of the library allowing “transphobic and anti-sex worker speaker Meghan Murphy” to book space for an event on Jan. 10.” … “The VPS said it recognizes the role of libraries as hubs for public debate and free thought, “but not past the point that the speech is discriminatory based on protected grounds.”
  • USA – ALA denounces new Macmillan library lending model, urges library customers to voice objections – ALA News. “The American Library Association (ALA) denounces the new library ebook lending model announced today by Macmillan Publishers. Under the new model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in ebook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.”
    • Crowds rally for Drag Queen Story Hour: ‘It just shows how far we’ve come’ – Reno Gazette Journal. 600 attended. “Many waved rainbow flags and held posters that read: “Jesus wore a dress,” “Hate is a drag,” and “All are fabulously welcome.””.  One man protested. Library Deletes Photos of Children Fondling Drag Queens During ‘Story Hour’ – Breitbart. Drag Queens Are Bringing Families Together at Public Libraries Across the U.S. – Them. ““It came out of a community need I was hearing from parents about their kids being bullied for … not fitting into rigid gender stereotypes,” says Mills. Working with colleagues, they created a curriculum rooted in acceptance and kindness, collaborating with family-focused Pride events.”
    • Linkedin to libraries: drop dead – Boing Boing. Lynda.com online learning, used by many US libraries, is now moving to “LinkedIn Learning” … “If libraries accept this change, it will mean that any patron who uses this publicly funded service will also have to have a publicly searchable Linkedin profile. Linkedin’s explanation of why this is OK is purest tech-bro PR … condescending and dismissive. “
    • How To Promote a Library Event on a Small Budget – Princh. “Effectively managing the budget of the library is an important and continuous task. Any strategies to help promote library services, raise awareness for libraries and attract library visitors at a low cost are enticing for libraries to review and potentially implement. Egor Gerashchenko, chief of Marketing & Development Department, Central Library System of Moscow Region shares his experience in this blog about how he was able to effectively and successfully promote an event that attracted a substantial number of visitors, and media mentions at a very low cost. Read below to see how Egor was able to do this.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Aberdeenshire libraries to act as NHS hearing aid battery collection points – Mearns Leader. “Patients are reminded in order to receive a pack of batteries from their local library they must produce the NHS Audiology Booklet or leaflet that they have been given by their hearing aid consultant as evidence they are entitled to this service”
  • Bradford – Frustration as details of museum and library cuts still to be revealed – Telegraph and Argus. “Members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee had expected to learn more about what the vital services would look like after their budget is slashed when they met in City Hall on Wednesday evening. But they were instead told that details of closures, shake ups or job losses would not be revealed until September at the earliest.”
    • Strike action could be on the cards for Bradford library and museum staff – Wharfedale Observer. “The Unite union has announced it is holding a consultative ballot of its 50-or-so library and museum members in Bradford district to see if they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot. Union bosses have accused Bradford Council of regarding libraries and museums as “soft targets” and said it should be “ashamed” of attacking “low paid, mostly female workers”.”
  • Brent – Library Operations ManagerSalary range: £42,684- £45,585 “This is a critical role in the successful running and development of the library services. The post holder will be responsible for effectively managing the senior staff at each branch and will ensure the smooth operation of our premises. Based at The Library at Willesden Green, the post holder will also be responsible for the hires officer, contracts and partnerships in the centre, generating opportunities for the service to develop and generate income. Developing new partnerships within the community and the Council, and ensuring the service continues to perform at a high level are also key responsibilities of the post.
    • Library Stock Development ManagerSalary range: £35,724 – £38,799 “This is a key role within the library management team, responsible for effectively managing the stock budgets, collections and supplier relationships. Collection development is an important aspect of the role and it is a priority for us to ensure that our stock continues to meet the needs and interests of our residents. The pos tholder will also take a lead on the effective promotion of the library stock, through staff development, campaigns and community engagement. Management of the Home Library and Community Outreach stock services also falls within the remit of the role.
  • Bridgend – Change to library services in Bridgend – Llantwit Major Today. “The reference library in Bridgend is set to move to Maesteg to pave the way for further development on the Sunnyside site.” … “Plans going before Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet on July 23 would see the local and family history service move to Y Llynfi Library at Maesteg Sports Centre on a temporary basis. It would then move to Maesteg Town Hall after its planned £6m redevelopment has taken place. Council officers said the library at Maesteg Sports Centre was the only suitable and cost-effective location for the service. The reference library receives around 6,000 visits a year.” … “the local authority said it needs to reduce the management fee payable to Awen by £150,000 between 2019 and 2021, based on reviewing the number of libraries and reductions in services or opening hours.”
  • Devon – ‘The rest was history’ Carol celebrates 20 years in the library – Sidmouth Herald.
  • Essex – Essex council which U-turned on library closures signs off plans – BBC. News. “A county council which saw celebrities back a campaign against its plan to shut libraries has signed off a five-year strategy for its loan service. But campaigners say they are still no clearer how this plan will operate.” … “On Wednesday, the council confirmed it was still seeking volunteers to keep the small branches open.”
  • Lancashire – Preston’s Savick Library shuts temporarily after problem is discovered with ceiling – Lancashire Evening Post. “Although we haven’t got a definite date for the library to reopen yet, we will do all we can to make sure that this happens as soon as possible. “
  • Manchester – New Chairperson appointed to lead Manchester City of Literature – Manchester City Council.
    • Spirit of Manchester” statue to tour Greater Manchester libraries – Manchester City Council. “After spending time on display at libraries in each of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs, the statue will end its tour at Manchester Art Gallery, where it will remain on view until it takes up permanent residence at Manchester Town Hall, which reopens to the public in 2024.”
  • Moray – Letter to Moray Council – CILIPS. Concern over opening Moray libraries up to the open market. “Our concern is that the above process may lead to library services being delivered in ways that may affect the local community’s ability to access an adequate public library service as required by the Local Government Act, particularly if the model that was ultimately pursued was one where library services were to be delivered by fewer paid and trained staff and without adequate Council funding”
  • Northamptonshire – Investigation at Desborough Town Council after conflict of interest allegations – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Kettering Council’s monitoring officer has commissioned an investigation after a complaint by a Desborough resident concerning seven of the town’s councillors also being involved in the Desborough Library and Community Hub which is asking for a large grant from the town council.
    • Extraordinary meeting this week about whether town council should buy Desborough library – Northants Telegraph. “Desborough Town Council is holding an extraordinary meeting on Thursday (July 25) to decide whether it should put up £210,000 from its own funds to help buy the building in High Street from Northamptonshire County Council”
    • Hope for nearly all under-threat Northants libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Northamptonshire County Council says that it has had business plans from 15 of the 17 libraries which will no longer receive statutory protection after the cash-strapped authority decided to reduce its library earlier this year. Just Higham Ferrers Library and St James’ library in Northampton are still to have a concrete proposal, with the authority saying it has extended the deadline to try to ensure the libraries remain open.”
  • Oldham – Always getting library fines? If you live in Oldham, it won’t be a problem for much longer – Manchester Evening News. “Over the past two decades, 14,000 people have had their library membership restricted due to long overdue books and outstanding fines. Town hall officers say large numbers of residents came from some of the most ‘deprived wards’ in the borough”

“Axing fines is not expected to lead to a loss of stock, Coun Fielding said, adding “Quite frankly, if you were going to steal a book and never return it, you wouldn’t be bothered about the fine anyway.””

  • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire libraries raise profile with little help from Friends – Oxford Times. “More than 20 Friends groups are now active across Oxfordshire County Council’s network of 43 libraries, helping to extend opening hours and putting on a host of events. The first Friends group was formed at Stonesfield Library in 2013 and hundreds of volunteers are now involved across the county.” … “Having a Friends group not only helps ensure that the community and library users have a voice and can engage with us on how library services are delivered, but also helps to foster the sense of community ownership and pride in the library facility. “
  • Redbridge – Residents feel ‘blackmailed’ into backing Gants Hill hub plans but Redbridge Council says it is trying to save libraries – Ilford Recorder. “Our concern is that if the residents say no to a new hub and flats, this administration will close our library and blame residents and government cuts when the truth is they find funding for plenty of other things,””
  • Southampton – How Southampton City Libraries are helping hundreds of people with digital skills – Digital Unite. “We proactively recruit Champions via posters and on our website and ask them to commit around two hours each week. Following a short interview process we give them access to the training on the Digital Champions Network. We now have 11 Digital Champions in nine libraries, 4 are retired and 2 are studying. The teaching activity varies across our branches depending on the demand by residents and the availability of our Champions. “
  • Warrington – New three-year plan to transform borough’s libraries – Warrington Worldwide. “At the heart of the strategy is the mission to make Warrington libraries “valued community spaces that make a positive difference to the lives of the people that use them and to make them “welcoming spaces for all, offering the opportunity for reading, learning, enjoyment, reflection, calm, safety, creativity, insight and inspiration.”

Universal Offers reduced to four, or possibly increased to six


Thank you everyone for a strong response to my article last post on the purpose of public libraries. I include some of the responses below. By coincidence, the Universal Offers have just been reviewed and give an idea of what library services are expected to actually do. Thank goodness that there are now fewer Offers – I had feared that they would grow in number and barely anyone can remember the old list now. There are now just four, although two are combined (Information and Digital, Culture and Creativity: with “Creativity” being new) so there is a case that the number has actually increased to six by stealth. The last one, Health and Wellbeing also has an “and” in it of course, because for some reason just “Health” is not enough of a buzzword. So the  public library service is still expected to do a very wide spectrum of things with very little actual focus. However, I personally am delighted that “Reading” is, thank goodness, still on its own and at the top of the list.


Purpose of libraries

“… I entered the profession (as it was then…) at a time when outreach was accepted as an important part of the library remit. However its role was to draw people into libraries so that they could be introduced to the books and information waiting there and that they might not otherwise have crossed the door to see. Recently it has seemed that these activities which were once a hook have become the sole purpose of the service, and as you rightly say are competing with other organisations providing similar things either more or less successfully but certainly not differently. You query the paternalistic intentions in the founding of many libraries – I would also say that libraries then actually expressed pride in the achievements and aspirations of individual towns and communities, and a thriving and well stocked library was one example of a prosperous community. I don’t think there can be any question that books (hard copy or digital) and unbiased information are any less needed now than they were a hundred years ago. The National Literacy Trust website offers stark figures regarding the literacy levels in the UK, and it is known that (like children’s reading levels over the summer) adult levels fall post formal education but can be restored with practice. This is apart from all the benefits of broadening the mind, dispelling prejudices and thinking laterally which reading can encourage. By letting access to library materials decline the world of fake news and its perpetrators increase their influence to the detriment of us all.” Retired library manager.

“I wouldn’t attempt to answer the question “What problem are libraries designed to solve?” because it is too limiting. As well ask what problem universities are designed to solve!  Public libraries exist so that everyone can have free access to existing human knowledge. Problems of recording and preservation are (with a few limited exceptions) the remit of other libraries and other organisations, but freedom of access (place, time, cost) and expert guidance are very much the province of the public library.” “Erstwhile school librarian”

“I totally agree with your editorial below: At [a conference] I had the same feeling; delegates were confronted with a plethora of 3d printers, toys, self-publishing, etc that seemed to be peripheral to the core library mission of providing free content across a range of formats. The fact that a) most people don’t know what libraries have and b) don’t know how to access it seems to be lost on much of the library leadership, who seem to be trying to do a thousand different new things at once – mostly badly. If they were to stick to their knitting and focus on marketing their free content and training users and staff in getting to it, they would engage more users, increase usage, and have a good story to tell funders.” Library supplier

“If people don’t “get” someone’s message, what needs to happen in order for connection to be made? The fault is rarely if ever 100% with the recipient… “like parks, but for information and culture” is as close as we’ve got yet (and even that is pretty hard external sell) … [Public Libraries News] is the most thought through.” Matt Finch

“I was thinking (again) and if organizations that have a clear purpose are being cut and under some threat – making big generalisations here – what hope for libraries? We’re good at talking ourselves up between ourselves, but where’s our elevator pitch for the wider world?”

“Something I was playing with today was that the library is a place to explore ideas; the problem it seeks to solve is what is it to be human. Novels ways to explore different viewpoints, meeting place to exchange & debate, creative activities to express & try out ideas.” Twitter.

“Interesting but narrow take on what a public library is for. For me it is simply “helping people to help themselves” Darren Smart

National news

  • Backlash grows against unstaffed libraries – Guardian. “East Finchley is one of about 150 libraries across the country now using “open library” technology to introduce unstaffed hours. This means you can access buildings, even if there are no library staff present, with your library card and a pin number and use self-service scanners to return and check out books.” … “There are clear benefits, but some argue that a library without a librarian isn’t a library at all. “It’s a folly … it is dishonest to represent this as a library service when taxpayers have paid for a quality service with a librarian,” said Nick Poole, chief executive of the UK Library Association.”
  • Drag queens oust God from the reading corner – Conservative Woman. “While God is being ejected from the reading corner, libraries are engaging badly made-up middle-aged men in frocks to read stories about sexual diversity to children. “
  • Four refreshed Universal Library Offers announced – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected today launches their refreshed Universal Library Offers, which demonstrate work that every public library service does to enrich the lives of individuals and their communities. The four revised offers are: Reading; Digital and Information; Culture and Creativity; Health and Wellbeing.
  • Is LIS research important to information professionals? – Robert Gordon University. Questionnaire for an MSc in library and information studies.
  • Nielsen Book to sponsor Libraries Week in two-year CILIP partnership – BookSeller. “Nielsen Book has joined forces with library and information association CILIP to sponsor its reading campaign alongside National Libraries Week in a new two-year partnership. The deal, announced today (17th July), sees Nielsen get behind Libraries Week, which this year focuses on the facilities’ future in a digital age and runs from 7th to 12th October. It will also support the Building a Nation of Readers campaign, which is attempting to bring together authors, publishers, booksellers, distributors and libraries to identify challenges to reading and potential collaborations.” …”A separate deal, also announced today, will also see Libraries Week sponsored by Rakuten OverDrive, a digital reading platform for libraries and schools.”
  • Philipa Coughlan meets Stephen Booth – NB Magazine. “My local library was a lifeline to me when I was growing up. It was not only where I discovered a love of books and reading, but it gave me a great start to my early education. I don’t think I’d be where I am now, making a living as a writer, without the existence of that little branch library. So I’m very sad when I see them closing. I do a lot of library events now as an author, and the situation is very patchy in different parts of the country. Some areas are losing most of their libraries, while others, like Nottinghamshire, have managed not only to survive, but to thrive. So we know it can be done. But it often comes down to political will on the part of particular local authorities, who too often see libraries as a ‘soft target’. I think it’s very short-sighted, as a good library puts far more back into the community than it costs. I have high hopes that Nottingham can do something splendid with its new central library. It’s a UNESCO City of Literature after all – and if any city should have a wonderful flagship library, this is it.”
  • Project: To what extent do Members of Parliament engage with public libraries in their constituencies, and how does this shape their perceptions of libraries? – University of Sheffield. “I’m a Masters student at the University of Sheffield currently working on my dissertation. I’m investigating how Members of Parliament engage with the public libraries in their constituencies, and am attempting to get responses from both Members of Parliament and frontline library staff in West and South Yorkshire. “
  • We have libraries that are under-utilised – why not revamp them as centres for women in business?‘  – Daily Telegraph (behind paywall). Libraries should offer private space to women who want to start businesses, MPs report say – Daily Telegraph. “In a bid to boost female entrepreneurship in post-brexit Britain, the group say that libraries should be “used more widely across the UK to provide the home of business hubs including specific support for women owned businesses.” The All Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Enterprise says that “there is a national decline in the traditional use of libraries”, but the “unique reach and accessibility” of the buildings can attract a more diverse audience and host business support services.”

International news

  • Australia – How public libraries can help prepare us for the future – The Conversation. “Long-term planning is always challenging. It’s simply impossible to gather data from events that haven’t happened yet. Sometimes we may detect trends, but these can fall apart under what some foresight experts call “TUNA conditions”, when we face Turbulence, Uncertainty, Novelty or Ambiguity. Think of someone trying to predict that experiments with debt on Wall Street would lead to the global financial crisis and the political ripples that have followed. Think of trying, today, to foretell all the long-term consequences of climate change … Enter scenario planning”.
  • Canada – Online critics poke fun at Canada ‘warship’ library – BBC News. “The building – still in the midst of its revitalisation – is being compared to a tank, a battleship, even a deceptive dating profile picture. The criticism is centred over its current form compared to some original architectural renderings. “How did we get from A to B? Embarrassing. It’s so ugly,” said one Twitter user.” … “Another said: “Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge an unfinished building by its cladding.” Others pointed out that residents were lucky to “to live in a city that loves libraries” regardless of what the building looks like.”
  • Eire – Libraries across country to get funding for educational support– RTE. “Funding of €650,000 from the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2019 has been allocated to libraries across Ireland. The money will be used to provide supports for marginalised and socially disadvantaged communities.”
  • USA – Free Book Vending Machines Launched Across All NYC Boroughs – CBS New York. “When you think vending machines, it’s usually chips and soda. But these are filled with free books, and they’re for everyone, reports CBS2’s Cindy Hsu. The idea is to promote reading for toddlers to 14-year-old readers, especially in under-served communities” … ““They can take as many as they want, they are free. One hundred percent, and you don’t have to return them,” “
  • USA – Libraries Must Draw the Line on E-books  – Publishers Weekly. “We have reached a tipping point. Access to digital content in libraries is more than a financial issue; it is an equity issue. Ask yourself this: if libraries are effectively shut out of performing their traditional roles in the digital realm, do you trust Amazon to be the public’s open nd fair discovery engine?  To those who are truly stakeholders and champions of libraries, I ask you to weigh in and stand with us. And I challenge all librarians and library supporters to think about what our next steps will be.”
  • USA – National conference teaches librarians how to sneak drag queens past parents – Lifesite News. “The conference was held just as disturbing stories came to light across the country about Drag Queen Story Times (DQST) held in public libraries.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – New Barnsley library opens in £180m regeneration project – BookSeller. “A new state-of-the-art library has opened in the centre of Barnsley as the “cornerstone” of a £180m regeneration project. Part of the Glass Works scheme, the new facility officially opened its doors on Saturday 13th July with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a poetry reading by Ian McMillan. The four-storey library is situated in the Lightbox building, which has a transparent glass exterior designed to illuminate Barnsley’s new town square.” … “Each of the floors provide digital services including cutting-edge virtual reality, a training suite with a 65-inch interactive touch screen and tablet computers. Fully accessible, it also includes a sanctuary room for people with autism and will host a music and memories group supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, designed for people living with dementia and their carers.
  • Bexley – Diversification sees boost in library visits – Bexley Times. “Visits to libraries in Bexley have soared by 45,000 compared to last year … “The Libraries at Night project was a great success earlier this year and along with our annual BookBuzz festival, the activities put on at all of our libraries bring all sorts of people in. Author visits, comedians and even live rock music are all part of the fun.” He added: “Our Crayford Library is home to a post office, Welling Library offers freelance or start up office space – The Workary – and the Central Library is home to our Local Studies and Archive Team. All our libraries run special sessions and clubs that range from ‘Bexley Battle Gamers’ to ‘Gardeners Coffee Club’. These are just some examples. Our community libraries continue to be busy and by managing their own time and programme have branched out in ways that would not have been possible before.”
  • Brent – Preston Community Library is ‘highly commended’ in The Booksellers prestigious awards competition – Brent and Kilburn Times. “The volunteer-run Preston Community Library (PCL), in Carlton Avenue East, has been recognised in The Bookseller Library of the Year 2019. They are the first community library to ever be shortlisted as the competition usually recognises publicly funded libraries. Volunteers celebrated its shortlisting on Sunday by awarding its annual certificates of excellence to children who entered The Saman Shamsie Young Writers’ Challenge”
  • Bromley – Bromley libraries: Council meeting halted after public outbursts – News Shopper. “Bromley library protesters forced a council meeting to be halted this week after calls for a review of the controversial service were pushed back until September. Two members of the public shouted “you’re a disgrace” at councillors as they proposed pushing back a debate on Greenwich Leisure Limited’s management of Bromley’s libraries. Workers are currently on indefinite strike over pay and vacant job posts, claiming they are being asked to act as management with no extra pay to fill gaps.” … ““The service is being run into the ground and that is not what was promised. We cannot continue to ignore this situation.” In response, council leader Colin Smith pointed out that the contract with GLL is already set to be reviewed at a scrutiny meeting in September. He said: “Naturally we would argue and rebut much of that, but there is little point tonight. The contract is being reviewed in September. I move no further debate tonight and we take it in September.”
  • Cumbria – Barrow Library will be hosting a BBC Virtual Reality experience throughout JulyEvening Mail. “The national tour has been devised in partnership with the BBC, Libraries Connected and the Scottish Library and Information Council. The experience will give members of the public the opportunity to try out new virtual reality experiences with state of the art headsets supplied by the BBC.”
  • Essex – Campaigners’ challenge over £18k library promise – Gazette News. “County Council bosses were unable to tell campaigners and councillors where proposals to give volunteers £18,000 to run libraries had come from. Council leader David Finch and culture boss Susan Barker were quizzed about the figure at a scrutiny meeting. Under the proposals any community-run libraries will be given a grant of £18,000 split across three years. But campaigners demanded to know how the council had reached the figure, when they say it can cost more than £30,000 a year to run some services.” … “The council employs around 660 staff across 225 full-time equivalent roles. Mrs Barker said: “If nobody comes forward we still need those 660 people.”
    • Everything you need to know about Essex County Council’s new library strategy – Gazette Standard.
    • How to run a library campaign: Save Our Libraries “Emma Batrick, a SOLE organiser, explains how the campaign has grown and how it is now organised. Andrew Coburn – a CILIP member, Library Campaign Treasurer, former Essex library services employee and longstanding UNISON officer – gives a professional view of the workforce.”
    • Josephine Backman Juliff, 11, key to Essex library success – Chelmsford Weekly News. “he Hamilton Primary School pupil made it her mission to spread the word about the importance of the service. And Josefine has been instrumental in giving young people a voice in the discussions. Josefine, who starts secondary school at Paxman Academy in September, also went out of her comfort zone to give an impassioned speech to more than 600 people. Josefine didn’t stop there decorating a window at her home with information on how to save the libraries and giving out leaflets.”
    • Library decision is ‘closure by stealth’ – Bishops Stortford Independent. ““I would say this revised strategy is worse than the proposed one. It represents a stealth closure of the library service across swathes of the county – a service that ECC is statutorily obliged to provide,” said parish councillor Daniel Brett. “Until and unless they agree to funding staff and maintaining stock, computers and staff at Stansted library, the fight for the library is not over.”
    • MP Sir Bernard Jenkin praises Manningtree community for efforts to save libraries – Harwich and Manningtree Standard.
    • Tendring Council promise no libraries will be closed – Clacton and Frinton Gazette. “A motion by Labour group leader Ivan Henderson, which calls on the county council to rule out the closures or any reduction in opening hours of public libraries in Tendring and to instead concentrate on making better use of them as community hubs was passed unanimously. “
  • Hertfordshire – Chance to use Berkhamsted’s library without a librarian – Mix 96. “The new system – known as ‘open+’ – replaces the traditional library membership card with a swipe card and PIN system.” … “Despite the change, the traditional opening hours at Berkhamsted – when the library will be staffed by a librarian – will remain the same. But the ‘open+’ system will allow users to access the building for an extra 31 hours a week.”
  • Manchester – Museum pieces find new home during Manchester redevelopment – Jewish Chronicle. “Items from Manchester Jewish Museum will be displayed in Central Library pop-up while permanent premises are closed for reconstruction” … “Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will open the pop-up on July 15 and it will be open to the general public from the following day. “We’re thrilled to be moving into such a busy and prestigious venue,” museum chief executive Max Dunbar said.”
  • Norfolk – New King’s Lynn library business support scheme launched – Lynn News. “The Business and IP (Intellectual Property) Centre at the London Road building is the first of three hubs to be set up around Norfolk, following the establishment of a similar centre in Norwich.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist – BookSeller. “Harrogate Library’s energetic approach and packed programme has seen it become a real centre of the community, with a strong track record across the board: with children, with older teenagers, experienced adult readers and library newcomers alike”
  • Oldham – Oldham Libraries to create three ‘Libraries of Sanctuary’ – Oldham Council. “The £47,000, awarded from the Control Migration Fund (CMF) – the Home Office Funding – earlier this year, will be used to build better community relations and foster good community relations, which will benefit the whole town. Free courses, classes and activities will be developed, including English conversation classes and cultural activities. Monthly community activities will also be on offer alongside a wealth of volunteering opportunities to increase volunteering at libraries and in their local area.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries launches the first ever celebration of the county’s library service– Suffolk Libraries. “The first ever Suffolk Libraries Day will take place on Saturday 12 October 2019, at the end of National Libraries Week. Special events will be taking place at all 44 of our libraries, with the aim of showcasing everything libraries have to offer the community. The day will also raise funds to support the county’s library service.”
    • Chantry Library given £15,000 makeover – Ipswich Star. “Large parts of the work at Chantry Library, which has been open for 52 years, were paid for by its Friends group of volunteers who fundraised for the improvements. The Friends of Chantry Library spent £892 on a new carpet for the children’s area, £371.31 on new black out blinds and £2,190 of painting of walls inside the premises. New furniture worth £11,906.30 in total was paid for out of Suffolk County Council’s library reserve fund.”

The purpose of a public library, Essex and the rest of the public libraries news


A sort of congratulations to Essex for backing down a bit on closing libraries. The protests against the deep proposed cuts there has been impressive, with all sorts of protests going on, ranging from marches to gaining celebrity endorsements. The council has been a bit taken aback, it looks like, from all this but it’s conciliatory response still includes volunteer libraries. The reaction by campaigners has noted this and complained about it. This story does not have a happy ending yet.

As expected, my daring to issue a press statement from GLL about the Bromley strike led to attacks on social media, with the very first tweet being from a now definitively ex-friend snidely suggesting I was in the pay of the leisure trust.  I notice the CILIP response to an open letter, also about GLL as it happens, states that it won’t talk about the letter on social media and I can quite understand why.

I have been off ill again this week, which is very annoying on all sorts of levels. Apart from, well, being ill, It has stopped me doing a bunch of work for a start, left me with an abiding dislike of doing nothing and delayed me writing about the CILIP conference and doing some more work on the Bromley dispute. But I have got better enough this weekend for me, after I was challenged on the issue, to have a think about the purpose of public libraries. And I think this purpose thing is important because we are as a sector a bit rubbish at explaining what it is, which is a bit of a downer when we are trying to persuade people of our cause. So have a look at my thoughts below and see what if you agree. I’d be fascinated to hear your responses.


The purpose of public libraries

I was challenged a few days ago to explain what problem public libraries are designed to meet, which got me thinking. Once up a time, of course,  the answer was simple. It was a very Victorian paternalistic desire to provide reading, study, job-seeking and other “betterment” services to the “deserving poor“. The system set up for this was above all local, due to the knowledge that the expected clients could not afford to travel long distances.

Nowadays, we still do much of the same stuff, although we would recoil at using such patronising Victorian descriptions. However, we have also added a ton of other stuff that has on the face of it only a tangential relationship with what we did before. These include council services, theatre shows, preschool entertainment, community centre style offerings, village hall style room bookings and social groups. Basically, there’s not been a service yet that the public library service can seemingly say no to.

This is fine in a way in that the sector is still addressing the central need of  providing resources to the resource-less: social groups for the lonely, theatre shows for those without a theatre, training on how to use the internet etc. That’s all good. It’s also a strength in that it means the service is definitely changing with the times.

But some of this is highly questionable and smacks of us trying to look busy. After all, community centres do community centre stuff better, theatres do theatre better etc. Sometimes, this search for replacement activity results in libraries trying to muscle into these services while perfectly good and better alternatives exist nearby.

But the main problem with this Jack Of All Trades approach – just look at the universal offers sometime –  is that the service has greatly expanded its remit while at the same time the budget has substantially shrunk. This has led to a lower quality service overall, notably on the book side but also on the building quality and staff side as well.

Don’t get me wrong. As purposes go, “resources for the resource-less” is a pretty long-term and lofty goal. If Labour eventually gets its act together and wins an election then it is hoped by many that we will be showered with money and everything will be OK. If not then it means an increasing need to muscle in on funding previously given to the health sector, the cultural sector, the charity sector and, well, probably the kitchen sink sector too. But I think the major problem with this catch-all approach is that as long as librarians fail to put a limit on their ambition then they will forever find the funding wanting.


  • Call for proposals – Game Library Camp. “Do you have ideas on the use of games in libraries that you want to share, games you want to test, questions you want to explore? We are pleased to open the call for proposals for workshops and talks at Game Library Camp 2019. “
  • Cressida Cowell: New Children’s Laureate wants to ‘take on TV’ – BBC. “Boosting creative writing in schools and halting the decline of primary school libraries will be the focus of her attention in the first instance. ” … “Cowell said that despite many attempts by previous children’s laureates, “no-one has answered the question, ‘If your children can’t afford books and you don’t have a public library… and your primary school library has closed, how can you become a reader for the joy of it?’”
  • Labour won’t just end austerity, it will enrich people’s lives – Guardian. Shadow chancellor of the exchequer writes. “It would be wrong to think of this as just being about the bare essentials of life. In recent years, spending cuts have led to the neglect, privatisation and even closure of public libraries, parks and leisure centres. Not only does this undermine social ties, it can – to those without the means to pay – deny access to a rich cultural life.”
  • Libraries boost UK economy and diversity aside from culture, report claims – Museums and Heritage. “In the period between January 2016 to December 2018 the British library’s Business & IP Centres helped facilitate the creation of 12,288 new businesses and 7,843 additional jobs, according to the new report.” … “We look forward to partnering with even more libraries up and down the UK to create innovative hubs for aspiring entrepreneurs, as we work towards our goal of opening 20 Business & IP Centres by 2023 and expanding business support to high streets via branch libraries,” he added.”
  • Libraries told to focus on books as lending slumps – Times (partial paywall). “Lending rates have dropped at much faster rates than in the United States or Australia, with people in England borrowing on average fewer than three library books a year.”. Report notes librarians point to deep budget cuts then quotes Tim Coates saying UK librarians “partially to blame” for focusing away from books.
    • English library borrowing plummets while US remains stable – BookSeller. “Coates said: “25 to 30 years ago the public library sector in the UK, which means the leaders of the profession, the local and national politicians and government officers responsible for the service, consciously and deliberately allowed the number of books available for lending in public libraries to fall. It happened in every council.  “
  • Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist – Bookseller. “North Yorkshire’s Harrogate Library has won The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award 2019. A further eight libraries are also celebrated on the shortlist, unveiled today, including a school library and a specialist audiobook library.” … “t won on a shortlist which presented strong competition: two Scottish libraries (newly refurbished Montrose Library and high-achieving Shetland Library); an outstanding school library in Solihull’s Arden Academy; Eltham Library, with its literary play space for children, The Enchanted Story Garden; Libraries NI, the only full library service to be recognised this year; the unique London Library, with its impressive lending collection; and audiobook library Listening Books. For the first time, The Bookseller’s Library of the Year shortlist also includes a commendation for a volunteer-run library,”
  • Library workers ‘put heart and soul into service’ – Unison. ““In Camden, libraries we have the most reported incidents of violence and aggression across the council,” she said. She  recounted her experience of an incident where a library member was banned after a malicious download onto the library’s computer system. But as he was being escorted out of the building by a colleague from security, “he said: ‘Look what I’ve got’ and pulled out a gun. “Imagine if I’d have been a lone worker.”
  • NAG Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant Launched – National Acquisitions Group. “his new grant aims to enable public libraries to take forward an innovative project, which may have already had a pilot phase, and develop it further.  One award of up to £5000 will be available, depending upon the strength of your application.”
  • National Libraries Conference aims for ‘continued survival’ of service – BookSeller. “A National Libraries Conference, due to take place later this month, featuring authors and publishers aims to ensure the service’s “continued survival” in a digital age, organisers say. Staged in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel on 19th July senior librarians from across the country will be joined by industry experts and leading authors. Keynote addresses will come from chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley and best-selling author and libraries advocate, Ann Cleeves.”
  • Public Libraries – House of Commons Briefing Paper 5875. “This Paper gives a brief overview of the provision of library services in England, the role of the Secretary of State, and the work of the Libraries Taskforce.” … “Since 2010/11, library net expenditure excluding capital charges has declined by 36% in real terms from £1.15 billion to £741 million in 2017/18. Between 2004/05 and 2009/10 spending in real terms declined by 4%.”
  • Response to open letter to CILIP – CILIP. Response to complaint about GLL being allowed on the “Employer Partner Scheme”. “It is perfectly normal for membership associations to maintain relationship-based memberships for both institutions and individuals – to the respective benefit of both.” … “With regard to your broader points, CILIP has no formal mandate to intervene in any 3rd party labour dispute. ” … Use of the word “Partner” may be dropped … The issues you raise are important and while we are satisfied with the overall structure of the Employer Partner Scheme, it is clear that there is more to be done to clarify how the scheme operates and to allay any concerns members may have. … Given the reductive nature of social media, we do not feel that it is helpful to rehearse the discussion about this letter (which is openly available on our website) further via twitter, although we will of course always do what we can to support individual members.”
  • “Summer Reading Challenge kicks off as one in three parents say reading slips in holidays – BookSeller. “One in three parents say regular reading with their children slips in the summer holidays, according to a Reading Agency survey ahead of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. To mark the Summer Reading Challenge’s 20th anniversary, The Reading Agency and libraries are calling on families to make space for reading over the summer by setting aside time each day to read together. According to a Reading Agency poll of 1,500 parents from across the UK,  90% of parents and carers reported routines ‘slip’ over the summer, with regular reading, bedtimes and healthy eating all disrupted. “


  • Canada – What’s changed since St. Paul ended library late fees? Usage bolstered while overdue rate holds steady — so far – Twin Cities. “The library tracked circulation specific to the 42,000 patrons with formerly blocked cards. That group checked out 19,000 items — evidence that going fine-free actively drew them back to the library. From January to March, circulation system-wide increased by a fraction of a percentage point — 0.06 percent, to be exact. That may not sound like a lot, but the numbers had been trending downward until then. The uptick represents the first circulation increase since a series of library renovations drew patron interest in 2015, and the first uptick since 2009 not attributable to a branch remodel or reopening. Overall, seven of 14 branches saw at least a 1 percent increase in circulation. Two libraries in particular saw double-digit increases in circulation, and both are located in low-income, high-minority neighbourhoods. Circulation at the Dayton’s Bluff branch went up 15.5 percent. Circulation at the Arlington Hills Library, also on the city’s East Side, went up 13.1 percent.”
  • New Zealand –  How New Zealand libraries are adapting to the 21st century – Stuff. “We love our libraries, hard” … “Following the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes – and the Christchurch mosque attacks – people flocked to their local libraries. “What we saw in response to all these events was how much the local library was the place to go for community, for manaakitanga, for aroha, for a safe, caring place for people to be. People come to the library looking for sanctuary,” says Cuttriss.”
  • USA – ‘Utter Insanity’: Activist Mommy Launches Petition After Kids Crawl on Drag Queen at Library Story Hour – Christian Broadcasting News. Talks about a programme to “indoctrinate” children.

Local news

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east libraries to become testbeds for rural entrepreneurship – Mearns Leader.  “The Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) has been developed in partnership between Aberdeenshire Council and Robert Gordon University (RGU) to create modern public library spaces with networks of resource for local entrepreneurs and small and micro businesses.”
  • Argyll – Opinion: LiveArgyll is inspiring people in Helensburgh – Helensburgh Advertiser. “LiveArgyll is a charity set up by Argyll and Bute Council to run leisure and sport facilities, libraries, halls, community centres and sports pitches across Argyll and Bute.” … “There is much going on within our libraries under LiveArgyll, with the Space Chase Summer Reading Challenge during the summer holidays. New activities are also in the pipeline including storytelling, T-shirt design and clay modelling for kids to enjoy. Opening hours in the library are increasing to permit people to visit during lunchtimes. Residents who can’t visit the library in person can now use the new Borrowbox ebook and eAudiobook service.”
  • Ealing – Ealing Library Strategy – Ealing Council. Cut from £4.431m (2019-20) to £2.8m (2021/22). £1.64m cut. Greenford and Wood End to be co-located and closed, Hanwell to be co-located, Pitshanger to volunteers
  • East Sussex – Plans for volunteer-run Polegate library – Sussex Express. “Last year the county council agreed to Polegate Town Council (PTC) taking on the former library building in Windsor Way and running it on their behalf. Under this agreement PTC would have paid ESCC for all staffing and running costs to operate the library with the same services and facilities as other East Sussex libraries. However PTC informed ESCC in February it no longer wanted to progress with a service level agreement. Instead it proposed a community library operated by the Polegate Community Library (PCL), which has been formed from a management group that was exploring community library options for PTC.”
  • Essex – Letter: Leader must think we were born yesterday over libraries U-turn – Gazette Standard. “When asked the question why the council had made a U-turn on its decision to reduce the number of libraries in the county, he obviously became agitated, took on an air of self importance and suggested no such thing had taken place” … “Never in my life time have I seen such an outburst of oppostion to the intimated loss of libraries. Mr Finch and his councillors became very concerned as to their futures in politics.”
    • Campaigners call for guarantees over library staffing – Clacton Gazette. “Labour’s Julie Young suggested the move was a “need to save seats, not libraries”. She called for the libraries to be manned by paid County Hall staff. Thousands of people responded to the consultation, took part in protests and signed petitions. County Hall saw more than 21,000 responses, 1,000 letters and more than 50 petitions handed over. Susan Barker, councillor responsible for customers and culture, said: “Our future libraries strategy has changed drastically due to what people told us.”
    • Campaigners in new bid to save Essex library services – BookSeller. “In an 18-page report commissioned by Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) without payment, Al Baghal said the survey used a number of leading questions that increased the chances of getting a positive response to the council’s plans.”
    • Essex library U-turn after celebrity-backed campaign – BBC. “Conservative-run Essex County Council had considered shutting 25 of its 74 libraries but leader David Finch has announced there will be no closures. However, the authority said volunteers would be sought to keep several smaller libraries running. Campaigners said they were cautious about using volunteers and wanted to see detailed plans.” … “An additional £3m will be invested in libraries over the next five years, Mr Finch said.”. Non-aligned councillor says “”[It would not have happened] if it was not for the public pressure, Save Our Libraries Essex, members of opposition and the Conservative councillors who have said something in private.”
    • Expert criticises reliability of ‘questionable’ libraries consultation – East Anglian Daily Times. “A leading expert in survey design has criticised the methodology of Essex County Council’s libraries consultation – prompting campaigners to call for a new one.” … “His findings identify various problems in the design of the council survey, saying it includes ‘leading questions’ and ‘complex questions, with difficult wording’ which “could lead to possible confusion’ with participants.”
    • Libraries saved as people power wins – Southend Standard.
  • Hertfordshire – Herts County Council appoints library service operator – but won’t say who it is yet – Watford Observer. “Hertfordshire County Council has selected the organisation it wants to deliver library services across the county. But – in line with EU procurement rules – it will not yet reveal whether the winning bid came from its own ‘public service mutual’. In October the county councillors decided to contract out library services, as part of a drive to save £500,000 without impacting on library services or improvements. And, at the same time, they agreed to set up their own organisation – a ‘public service mutual’ – that would submit a bid.”
  • Lincolnshire – Cleaner, greener, smaller mobile libraries to hit Lincolnshire’s roads – Sleaford Standard. “New, environmentally-friendly mobile library vehicles are to be introduced as Lincolnshire County Council works to become carbon neutral by 2050. The authority’s three large mobile libraries are coming to the end of their life and need to be replaced. In future, the council will be using smaller, environmentally-friendly vans to serve 234 stops across Lincolnshire, meaning less space for such a wide range of books stocked on board. To make sure communities have easy access to books between visits, the county council is approaching a number of parish councils to offer a collection of books to be based within the local community.”
  • Suffolk – What is digital borrowing? And why is it more popular than ever in Suffolk – East Anglian Daily Times. “Suffolk Libraries has revealed that in the past five years eBook and eAudiobook loans have risen by 151%. The news comes after data revealed that the number of physical book loans from Suffolk libraries had been dropping over the same period. According to Suffolk Libraries the total number of loans across all the formats offered by the library has increased by 2.5% in the past year alone. One area of real growth has been eAudio books: loans of these have increased by 50% in the last year.”
  • West Sussex – Library bans a playgroup from an under-fives ‘rhyme time’ session after complaints the children were singing about God – Mail. “A library has banned volunteers from a church-run playgroup from an under-fives ‘rhyme time’ session after complaints that the children were singing about God. Helpers from the Noah’s Ark group in Burgess Hill would visit the West Sussex town’s library once a month to sing songs about Bible stories.”. Council says “‘In Burgess Hill a partnership was formed with a local faith group some years ago before rhyme time sessions were offered across all libraries. ‘We have been very grateful to this group for their support but following feedback from families, we have decided to bring these sessions in line with the other Rhyme Times in our libraries which are led by staff. ‘Families can continue to access faith-based activities in community venues and library staff are very happy to help anyone looking for details of where they can join these.’”
    • Closing the library will leave a gaping hole in the heart of the community – Mid Sussex Times / Letters.  “For a year in 2013/14, I was able to volunteer with the library service and the children and family service to help deliver boxes of books to rural preschools. I learnt then how hard the librarians and volunteers are working to keep a vital service open and accessible to all. Of course, libraries aren’t just for the young, they are for everyone. I for one can say that if Hurstpierpoint were to lose its library, it would leave a gaping hole in the heart of our village. These cuts must be stopped.”
    • Further housing support cuts suspended — but reductions to West Sussex’s library service still on table – Littlehampton Gazette. “The libraries at risk would all be from the 13 rated as tier 6. They are: Angmering, Arundel, Broadwater, East Preston, Ferring, Findon Valley, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Petworth, Pulborough, Southbourne, Southwater and Witterings.”
  • Wiltshire – Pop-up community banks proposed for Salisbury – which could see them in libraries and leisure centres – Salisbury Journal. “Cabinet member for finance Councillor Philip Whitehead called it an “exciting” initiative that could see pop-up banks launched in leisure centre and libraries in the county. “
  • Worcestershire – All libraries across Worcestershire will remain open despite staff cuts likely – Redditch Standard. “libraries across Worcestershire will remain open despite County Council chiefs admitting staff cuts are still likely.” Open Plus to be used.

Both sides of the argument – GLL, book issues and volunteers


Trusts tend to get a bad press on library social media, and GLL due to its size more than anyone else. There’s an open letter against it included below and there’s currently strike action going on in Bromley, which is one of its services. In the normal PLN tradition of trying to cover both sides, though, I will mention here that GLL has ended lone-working in Dudley at no extra cost to the council and has included below a response on Bromley. If you feel the need to get angry at me for including these things, you are welcome to comment below but remember first the need for sharing information is part of the profession’s job. And that goes for both sides, and not just the one you agree with. This is also true for Tim Coates, who many of us have disagreed with for attacking the UK librarian profession at every opportunity. I include his chart on US, Australian and book issue trends here for you to make up your own mind. For me, the reason is fairly obvious – cut the bookfund and you cut the issues – but make up your own mind as to why.

I greatly enjoyed, as ever, the CILIP Conference this week, of which more at another time but I was saddened, after listening to a spirited talkthere, that the Libraries Change Lives Awards will not happen this year. Let’s hope they come back stronger than ever next year.

Right, good news bad news time. Havering have announced 5 libraries could be volunteer run and West Sussex have announced they may get rid of a mobile library and other services as part of a £500k cut. On the other side, Lewisham have cancelled deep proposed cuts and Nottinghamshire have rearranged opening hours for a slight increase. Being I mentioned volunteer libraries, I discovered on Thursday – while talking to an Austrian librarian – that 80% of their libraries are volunteer run and have been for decades, with a tier of government offering substantial training to ensure volunteer librarians are up to standard. Being that there are no standards in England even for paid staff, it seems unlikely that such a thing will happen here.


National news

  • An open letter to CILIP’s Board of Trustees – Various librarians. Protest letter concerning CILIP working with GLL. “Firstly, we are asking CILIP to provide more information on how Employer Partners areg ranted this status. Itis unclear how the process functions and whether adequate procedures are in place to ensure due checks, balances, and oversight are consistently undertaken” … “library workers in Bromley are currently engaged in indefinite strike action against GLL” … “We would also like to raise our concerns over CILIP’s partnership with the MoD”

“GLL has run the library service in Bromley for 18 months – during which time we have prioritised ways to make services better, providing nicer buildings, better stock, good ICT, more staff on the frontline and more activities. We are sorry that, despite these efforts, Unite has, for the fifth year in succession, called for strike action across Bromley Libraries. We understand that this year’s dispute relates to a 6% pay claim and unfilled vacancies. In their latest leaflet, however, we read that Unite is saying that we have cut budgets by 25% and that we are attacking library services. These statements are factually incorrect.

We are ambitious for the library service in Bromley: we have made significant investment to upgrade ICT in libraries since the start of the contract, and are now embarking on a major refurbishment programme of libraries in the Borough to make them lighter, brighter and more welcoming. This is alongside maintaining excellent stock levels and developing the activities programme. Throughout the strike, libraries across Bromley have opened as normal.

We are happy to resume negotiations with the union on condition they agree to meet the standards and performance we have committed to delivering as part of a modern library service.” Statement from GLL on Bromley, received by email, sent in response to statement above.

  • Libraries Change Lives Award – CILIP. “the Libraries Change Lives Award is on hold for 2019. ” … “It’s not been a decision lightly taken, but the award needed a refresh in both structure and reach. It’s so important that the amazing work the Libraries Change Lives Award team do reaches all library and information workplaces, and that meant a breather was needed to examine” (Dawn Finch via Twitter)
  • LibrariesDeliver Campaign Launches to Activate the Public about Libraries and Librarians – CILIP. “In an effort to raise awareness and make a meaningful, long-term impact on the future of library funding, CILIP and the EveryLibrary Institute today announce the launch of LibrariesDeliver, an advocacy campaign that connects people from across England in support of their libraries. The core of the campaign is LibrariesDeliver.uk, a new GDPR-compliant advocacy website designed to activate and connect an extensive network of individuals and advocacy groups about library funding and use. On LibrariesDeliver.uk library supporters can sign up to become part of the campaign, pledge to support libraries, create and field petitions about funding, donate to support libraries, and become better organised and connected.”

Chart from Tim Coates, who says: “In this country, local and national politicians and senior members of the library sector have argued for two decades that the advance of the internet and availability of eBooks have led to an inevitable decline of the need for libraries to provide books. Those responsible have reduced book collections and caused libraries to concentrate on other activities. The chart shows clearly that such a decline has not taken place in either Australia or the United States, and that therefore it was not inevitable at all. The reduction of traditional library service has led to the decline in use. There has been a continuous failure of public library strategy particular to the UK and it still goes on.”

  • The day the e-books stopped working – BBC. “Consumers who bought ebooks via Microsoft’s online store are losing access to their libraries.” … “Although many readers will not have even realised Microsoft had made a third run at the industry, experts say the cut-off serves as a reminder that you do not actually own a copy of most digital purchases outright but rather have purchased a licence that can expire.”
  • Social Capital for Libraries – Princh. “Unlike financial capital that depreciates with use, social capital actually grows the more it is used. Reach out with information about what libraries are doing and how they can be supported to do more. Reciprocity happens! No, it’s not simplistic thinking. What librarians make happen to others, they will help to make happen to libraries. However, when our intentions are solely to ‘use’ people to achieve what we want, it can backfire badly.”
  • ‘A network of infrastructures’: Exploring Public Libraries as Infrastructure By Louise Rondel, Laura Henneke and Dr Alice Corble – CUCR Blog. Academic look at Idea Store Whitechapel, Idea Store Watney Market and New Cross Learning.

International news

  • Australia – Libraries After Dark: a public health pilot – Medium. ” If Libraries offered a regular late night opening with activities and learning opportunities and a social get together this may divert people at risk of a loss spiral at the local pokies. In essence it was designed to encourage people to move from the local gambling lounge to their community lounge — their local library…”
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – The Love of Books: The Brave Librarians of Sarajevo – Al Jazeera World. “”The culture of our people, the identity, the history of Bosnia, for centuries in one place. And suddenly it was being swallowed by the fire and the flames,” says firefighter Ismet Tucak, who responded to the blaze at the National Library. Fearing the Gazi Husrev-Beg library would be attacked next, Jahic’s staff took the momentous decision to move their most precious works to safety. Dodging Serbian snipers and street violence, the small band of book-lovers – including the cleaner and the Congolese nightwatchman – moved the manuscripts, one box at a time, to preserve a valuable part of their written history.”
  • Canada – Library won’t partner with group planning to screen films about police brutality – CBC. “ssues of brutality, racism and militarization within police forces. Alex Khasnabish has arranged several film screenings at the library in the past and had been allowed to use the space for free.  But he said he got an email from the program manager at the library saying there were concerns about this year’s film choices and asking that a police representative be added to the accompanying panel discussions. “
  • Finland – Kuopio City Library ditches protective plastic covers for books: “This is climate action” – Uutiset. “nly scientific libraries housed books without protective plastic covers. “This is a groundbreaking thing,” gushed Rauha Maarno, Managing Director of the Finnish Library Society, who claimed that no public library in Finland has done this before Kuopio. And, it’s not just good for the environment — the new practice could save money and time too, Koistinen said. Books that no longer need to be covered will make their way to the libraries faster than before. The money saved can be used to acquire new books.” [This goes directly against my experience, where a jacketed book will happily last 40 issues while a non-protected one dices with tearing at every issue – Ed.]
  • France – Stanton Williams wins hotly contested French library job – Architects Journal. “‘In a time when local libraries and community centres here in the UK are being closed and under increasing budget pressure, the new Metropolitan Library in Clermont-Ferrand is a bright example that there is faith in the importance and transformational power of access to literature and culture that our cities and communities need more than ever.’”
  • Israel – Long Overdue Resolution Finally Passed – Times of Israel. Applauds removal of Dewey name from library award.
  • USA – Peitition: Tell U.S. libraries to stop pushing ‘drag queens’ on our kids – Life Petitions. “LifeSite and Personhood Alliance are combining forces to combat the new and twisted phenomenon of the “Drag Queen Story Hour” taking over America’s libraries.” and N.J. library planned a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’ Then came 2 days of nonstop phone calls – Leigh Valley Live and A library canceled an LGBT prom after backlash. Then a church stepped in – Washington Post. “The Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church in Jacksonville stepped in and held the prom Friday, the same night as the original event at the neighborhood’s library. “It was the right thing to do,” Grace Repass, the church’s past president, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The LGBTQIA+ youth in our community deserve to have their prom and we wanted to support them.” and Breast ‘binder raffle,’ drag show held at public library for ‘Teen Pride’ – Christian Post.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east libraries to help support economic growth – Evening Express. “The Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) will combine creative co-working spaces with library facilities to help local entrepreneurs and small and micro businesses. “It is being developed by Aberdeenshire Council and Robert Gordon University (RGU) and funded by the LEADER Scottish Rural Development Programme.”
  • Buckinghamshire – You can now hire out your own tablet at Aylesbury Library – Mix96. “All you need is your Buckinghamshire library card and PIN to release a Hublet for up to two hours, completely free. The Hublets are ready to browse the internet using the library’s wifi and are preloaded with some favourite apps.”
  • Dudley – Staff boost for libraries across Dudley – Worcester News. “Libraries across the Dudley borough are to receive a boost in staff numbers, in a bid to improve footfall, security and customer service. Coseley, Cradley, Gornal, Long Lane, Lye, Netherton and Wordsley libraries will receive more staff so that at least two librarians will be on duty at any one time. Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs libraries across the borough, put the boost into force on July 1 to end lone working for staff”
  • Ealing – Ealing Libraries Need Our Help – Unison. “Ealing Unison led the lobby of the council meeting on Tuesday 11th June 2019 at the steps of Ealing Town Hall. Over 150 people from the local community, including Librarians, library users, young and old and Ealing Trades Council, assembled to send a message to Ealing Councillors that we value and use our Libraries across the borough …” … Lobby of cabinet meeting 16 July.
    • Save Our Seven Libraries by Akuba July 2019 – YouTube. “Inspired by the Save Our Seven Libraries UNISON-supported campaign I wrote this poem to first highlight the impact of Tory austerity poilicies since 2010 on library provision in the UK and the Labour party’s official response to them through the Shadow Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan’s response. I also point to the paradoxes in being part of a Unison-backed campaign that is challenging the Ealing’s Labour Council’s Draft Strategy Libraries Proposal 2019 – 2023 to cut its Library Service and use community volunteers to make savings due to central government funding reductions. The Campaign to Save the Seven local libraries under threat of either being closed or handed over to voluntary organisations will conclude at the Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 16th July. “
  • East Sussex – County pulls plug on plans for Ore community library and says it wants to sell off the building… – Hastings in Focus. “A bold claim from last April that Ore Library had been saved for the community – seen by many at the time as an electioneering stunt – has come to nothing. Worse still it looks like East Sussex County Council now plans to sell off the old library building which could dash all hopes of ever seeing it re-open as a community facility. This week East Sussex County Council announced it was puling the plug on attempts to reach an agreement with Ore Community Association about re-opening the library, a spokesman said: “A year ago we agreed in principle to lease the former Ore library building on a peppercorn rent to the Ore Community Association for a community library to be provided at the site.”
  • Essex – Letter: Tiny town that roared its protest – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Manningtree, often described as the smallest town in England has chosen to ignore its diminutive size, assert itself and stand tall; in March of this year it held the largest and possibly most successful of the Young People’s Marches for Libraries, across Essex.”
    • Letter: Tories sending mixed messages on library cuts – Times series. “We understand the library services may need to evolve and they may, for example, need to link in more with some of the work being done by local councils to help strengthen communities and combat issues such as social isolation. But this will require the support of Essex County Council to continue, rather than to be cut. There is also the issue of sustainability to consider. Increasing numbers of people are now trying to make more environmentally- friendly choices.”
    • Stansted Parish Council renews call for ‘proper library’ – Bishops Stortford Independent. “A community-run library for Stansted has been ruled out by parish councillors who want Essex County Council to stick to its promise of providing a new facility for the village. And they are calling on their county councillor Ray Gooding to fight their corner when it comes to deciding on the library’s future as he sits on the cabinet which will ultimately decide its fate.”
  • Havering – Havering Council consultation: Have your say on community-run libraries and new ‘community hubs’ – Ilford Recorder. “The proposals are for five of the 10 libraries in the borough – Collier Row, Elm Park, Gidea Park, Harold Wood and South Hornchurch – to become community-run with some support from the council. This means they would be run on a day-to-day basis by community groups, but they would remain in their current buildings and still receive financial and strategic support from the council.”
  • Lancashire – A new chapter for Chatburn Library as closed down facility reopens – Advertiser and Times. “Locals, schoolchildren and civic dignitaries gathered to celebrate the reopening of a village library that closed three years ago. Chatburn Library officially unveiled by County Coun. Albert Atkinson is the latest library to be reopened by Lancashire County Council. The county council’s cabinet agreed a proposal earlier in April this year to reopen the library and reinstate the running of it from Chatburn Church of England Primary School, on Sawley Road.”
  • Lewisham – Slight increase in opening hours  – News Shopper. “the authority will now work up a new proposal to plug the hole in the library budget, after development proposals were not found to make enough income. In the meantime it will fix the urgent problems with the Lewisham Library building – including its leaking roof, which are threatening its archives. “
  • Liverpool – Pools, parks and libraries – the facilities at risk as Liverpool heads for financial cliff-edge – Liverpool Echo. “Like many struggling cities – particularly those in the north of the country – Liverpool has been living hand to mouth for the past decade, borrowing, applying for funding and making its own investments in a bid to continue the basic services that citizens need and deserve.” … “the lack of clarity around the future funding settlement means those in charge of culture are getting nervous. Cllr Simon said: “There are no plans to make any changes to the library services at the point. “Looking into the future, it would be disingenuous for anyone to say anything is absolutely safe.” Cllr Simon admitted that the council has already had to ‘significantly’ reduce its replacement of books at facilities across the city.”
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Use of Merthyr Tydfil’s libraries increasing year on year – Wales Online. “Members of the council’s governance scrutiny committee heard that usage of libraries has gone up by about 10% in the past five years. There were 229,042 visits to Merthyr Tydfil’s libraries throughout 2018-19 and 47,349 members registered although this is because people need to register to use all sorts of services, such as the internet, and it includes users from other areas. The library service, which is managed day to day by Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, is meeting all but one of its targets in full and is seeing an increase in users year on year.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Some library opening times to change across Nottinghamshire – West Bridgford Wire.  “The new opening hours follow a detailed review of current opening times and usage along with local knowledge and customer feedback.” … “Inspire, the County Council’s cultural partner, is currently contracted to deliver 1,487 hours of public access to the library service per week. The approved changes this increase this to 1,525 hours per week and will benefit library users across the county.”
  • Redbridge – Community hub to house libraries, police stations and pharmacies under one roof – Guardian series. “The new hub in Gants Hill will bring public services – such as council offices, pharmacies, libraries and police stations – together under one roof to make them easier to access and more efficient. The Gants Hill centre will be one of six central community hubs dotted throughout the borough – others will be situated in Barkingside, Clayhall, Fullwell and Valentines wards.”
  • Rochdale – Celebrating library digital services: Smithy Bridge Silver Surfers – Lorensbergs. “we introduce Rochdale Libraries’ longest running group, the Smithy Bridge Silver Surfers. This senior technology group is a fantastic example of how libraries are addressing the digital divide while satisfying the digitally inquisitive nature of their customers. Most importantly, it shows how there doesn’t need to be (and often isn’t!) a gap in digital capability between the generations. All you need is your local library to gather, support and inspire you.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries and theatre record increase in visitors – Advertizer. “Shropshire Council has revealed that 16,500 more visits were made to libraries in the county in 2018/19 compared to the previous year. ” … ““Usage of the cloudLibrary e-book system has doubled to over 24,000 loans and the e-audio has quadrupled to over 4,800 loans.  ” [Still tiny numbers compared to print – Ed.]
  • St Helens – St Helens library card holders to be able to use facilities across city region – St Helens Star. “A new service means that people can use St Helens library cards to use any other library across the Liverpool City Region. Library Light will launch on Monday, July 8 and means existing customers can access all libraries across the city region with their current library card. People can present their library card, and provide a name, address and contact number.”
  • Suffolk – Town without a bank gets Barclays services in library – EADT. “Barclays has begun a three-month trial of the paired [sic] down services for customers in Aldeburgh. The trial comes only months after Barclays became the final provider to pull its services from the town, leaving it without a bank. At the time there were huge concerns in the town as to what the impact would be for residents and businesses. The new sessions will take place at the town’s library on Mondays from 9am until 1pm until the end of August, when the scheme will be reviewed. Customers will be able to access a number of general banking tasks by visiting a Barclays’ “moment banker”, who will be based in a private office in the library.”
  • West Sussex – Worthing and Littlehampton’s mobile library taken off the road – Littlehampton Gazette. “West Sussex County Council operates two mobile libraries, one from Horsham and another from Bognor Regis. After a series of mechanical failures the mobile library based in Bognor Regis, which serves the rural south of West Sussex, has been deemed ‘no longer roadworthy’ and the decision has been made to take it off the road.”
    • Several West Sussex libraries could close as part of further budget cuts – Chichester Observer. “Questions hang over the future of a number of West Sussex libraries amid county council plans to cut up to £500,000 from the service’s budget. A report due to be discussed by the cabinet next week said ‘several’ tier 6 libraries could be closed to help save money. There are 13 tier 6 libraries in the county … According to an officers’ report: “Reducing the level of service as suggested would have an impact on the ability of the service to support the County Council outcomes effectively and would represent a reduction in service. This would require extensive community and staff consultation.”
    • Libraries and a tip could close amid £28m cuts – Argus.
  • Worcestershire – Council told to produce ‘vision’ for libraries before making future decisions – Worcester News. “Worcestershire County Council has been told it needs to use the results of a four-month consultation as well as an extensive peer review to create a strategy before it begins cutting more than £395,000 from the library budget this year. ” … “a peer review by the Local Government Association has recommended the council should consider abandoning this plea, promote the use of ‘open’ unstaffed libraries and also look at using single-staffed libraries more. “

US weirdness, the SDP again, Library Island and more fines free


The more I read about US public libraries., the more foreign they sound. You can get into trouble in some for protesting when a member of the public brings in a gun, hidden or not. There is also no issue in many about adults watching porn on library computers, by the children’s library or not. Both are to do with the somewhat messed up views Americans have about their constitution. But another problem that has come up recently is religious fundamentalism and a certain unenlightened approach to anything but heterosexuality. There have been a ton of protests there about drag queen story times and just this week a protest from someone who genuinely believes the Earth is 6000 years old that libraries are a danger to children. Good grief. The American Library Association is trying to cope with mostly being far more liberal than a significant part of the country’s population but it must be a challenging time in such a divided country. It’s doing its best though and has just removed the name Dewey from a prize on account of Melvil’s behaviour, which was deeply inappropriate even when he was alive and is even more so now.

I need to report that my summary on the Single Digital Presence report last week was little inaccurate. The cost of the research is £266k (£236kI from Arts Council England plus £30k from Carnegie) and not the £320k reported. Oh, and it covers the UK – including Wales and Northern Ireland who effectively already have some form of uniform webpage – and not just England. However, I stand by my worries that this research, involved and well-run as it may be, but which at the moment is not giving a clear direction, is simply delaying a much needed national website for another 18 monthsor so and I have little hope of such a thing appearing for many years to come. This isn’t the fault of the British Library research but rather I think their brief and something more structural in the messed up and overly scattered national governance of public libraries in this country.

I have been in contact with Matt Finch for a while and heard much about his training so it was great to see him offering his “Library Island” training for free, of which more below. I am also delighted to report two more library services that have been fines free for apparently years but I had not included before – West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian. That makes 14 councils in the UK so far fines free.


Library Island

So I had a chance to talk Matt Finch about the making of his excellent Library Island resource free for anyone to use. For those of you not familiar with it – and it will be too many of you – it’s a training tool intended to make your library service think about what it needs to do in the future and how to put yourself in the shoes of your users and potential users. That sounds quite dry but, by all accounts, it is a fun game. Have a look at it here.

It has been tested in sessions all around the world from Australia to the USA and, in this country, notably in an event hosted by Libraries Unlimited. Although it requires a minimum of 15 people to do properly, Matt points out that this is an opportunity to invite partners/stakeholders along to help out and that it indeed strengthens the game to get their viewpoint. It can also help persuade them about the importance of libraries. In addition, getting people from all levels of the organisation – not just managers but library assistants and even caretakers – can help them understand the role of the library service better.

The game is a standalone activity, but forms part of a wider “scenario planning” approach which allows you to think about ten years or more ahead, trying different scenarios (e.g. halving of budget, increase in homelessness, NHS increasing spending on libraries …) but if this sounds like too long then Matt makes clear that it is not an exercise in science fiction or aiming to predict anything but rather to test your assumptions. And testing assumptions is important. Matt is clear that the library service should serve the needs of its local community. That sounds pat but time after time I see library services grabbing funding that’s available (I’ve given up reporting on ACE-funded theatre shows) with little thought for how it ties in with local need or indeed long-term strategy. I also see a lot of what Matt calls, in a wonderful phrase, “copy and paste innovation”, where a library service sees something shiny happening elsewhere and adopts it with little thought as to if it’s needed. For me, the ultimate example of this is makerspaces but there are others.

Matt, who I worry is one-man climate change inducing machine, has been to many countries in his travels and ended with a thought that rings true with me. This is that if you’re wondering about the future or if your service should do something or other then look abroad. Chances are that another country is already facing similar problems and you can learn from them. For instance, no-one tackles homelessness better than some New Zealand systems or has more of it than the USA so those are the places to look at if that’s an issue. But whatever you find out, remember it’s your local communities that your libraries are serving and not the other way around. Use examples from elsewhere but always this in mind. And then your library island will be a happy one.

  • My Visit to Library Island: Justin Hoenke – Mechanical Dolphin. “I’m featuring some accounts of the island from people who have attended Island sessions, or run Islands of their own, to give you a better sense of what it means to take part in, or even organise, your own Library Island. This week, we’re joined by Pennsylvania public librarian Justin Hoenke, who attended an Island session with colleagues from across the western part of his state in June 2019. The activity was embedded in a day-long event focussed on strategic & scenario planning for public libraries and their communities.”

“With Library Island, I felt differently about it from the moment I heard about it. Change?!?! Chaos?!?!? Games?!?!? Play?!?!?! Fun?!?!? What was this? Why were people smiling and moving around during this workshop? Library Island offered something different, a workshop that brought together learning with fun and unpredictability. At the end of the day with Library Island I was physically and mentally tired, but in a good way, a way I hadn’t felt in ages. I needed to get home and get to bed to recover, but my humming head wouldn’t let me fully put down the great experience I just had.” Justin Hoenke

  • Welcome to Library Island – Dr Matt Finch. Full text needed for roleplay training game designed to help library staff think strategically and secure funding. See Library Island Is Here. “This interactive training activity helps participants to explore strategy, innovation, and the messy business of working with communities. We’ve spent the last two years perfecting Library Island with university staff, health workers, museum professionals, students, and, yes, librarians. The free CC-licensed print-and-play kit is now available for download in PDF format. Feel free to adopt it, adapt it, and make your own visit to Library Island.

National news

  • 100 years of the library: The service we should value like the NHS – but don’t – Politics. “The 1919 Public Libraries Act effectively created libraries as we know them today.  It removed the rates cap preventing local authorities from establishing new libraries and paved the way for a service available to all for free. But this is not a centenary that will be celebrated. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has issued no press releases and there will be no commemorative events …. But this is about more than evil Tories taking kids’ books away. It’s about the hierarchy that governs the way we – the media, politicians, everyone – think and talk about public services, cherishing some, and curiously indifferent to the fate of others.”

“The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport monitors library service provision throughout England, but does not hold figures on the number of public libraries operating for all or part of their opening hours without staff. Following discussions involving the Department and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) the annual library statistics, will for the first time, report for each local authority the scheduled staffed and unstaffed opening hours per week for their libraries. This annual report will be published by CIPFA in November or December.” Mims Davis MP, DCMS Parliamentary Undersecretary.

  • Andy McNab: ‘At 16, I read my first book – and it changed my life’ – Guardian. “The main gist of what I tell anyone willing to listen is that the best soldier out there is the one with a library card.”
  • CILIP launches new Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Network – CILIP. “he network will provide a forum for BAME information professionals to share experiences, support each other and build connections. Working with CILIP and other partners, the network will support the advancement of BAME professionals in the workforce. The launch of the BAME Network will help to address the under-representation of people of colour within the library and information workforce as identified in the CILIP/ARA Workforce Mapping data (2015).”

“We appreciate the incredibly important work librarians do to champion authors and create welcoming spaces for all book fans. If you are currently employed as a librarian and can provide  proof of employment, you are eligible for a 40% discount on the price of a Capital Crime ticket. We’ve made 30 librarian tickets available and they will be sold on a first come, first served basis, with a limit of one per customer.” Capital Crime Festival 26-28 September, London.

  • How libraries change lives  – TedxExeter. “When was the last time you visited your local library? You might be surprised by what’s happening if you haven’t been recently. Ciara Eastell makes a strong case for these places of transformation and possibility, arguing that in an era of fake news and loneliness, we need our libraries more than ever.”

“We actively encourage people to speak to us as they are formulating their ideas for Engaging Libraries and are keen to be as helpful as possible. We are all friendly folk and can be contacted on  01383 721445 and engaginglibraries@carnegieuk.org). There is a blog that we published that gives a flavour of the programme and why we think public libraries are so well situated to connect people and ideas (because, guess what, they already do this!) and why we’re keen to support public libraries to establish partnerships with researchers:  https://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/blog/engaging-libraries-bringing-people-public-libraries-and-researchers-together-to-explore-health-culture-and-society/Jenny Peachey, Carnegie UK Trust via email.

  • Libraries on Twitter – Twitter Librarydata. Free tool to show what is trending on Twitter about the UK public library sector, other library sectors and internationally. “Data taken from the lists compiled by Sarah’s LibraryLists. For more exploration of libraries on Twitter, see Sarah’s Open Access article, Tweeting into the void?: creating a UK library Twitter list and analyzing best practice – successes and myths.”
  • Melvil Dewey’s name stripped from top librarian award – Guardian. “The American Library Association will rename the Melvil Dewey medal in recognition of their co-founder’s racial discrimination and sexual impropriety” … “The resolution explains that Dewey did not permit Jewish people, African Americans or other minorities admittance to the resort he owned, the Lake Placid Club. He also “made numerous inappropriate physical advances toward women he worked with and wielded professional power over” and was ostracised from the ALA after four women accused him of sexual impropriety, the resolution continues, declaring that “the behaviour demonstrated for decades by Dewey does not represent the stated fundamental values of ALA in equity, diversity, and inclusion”.”
  • More than 100 public libraries close every year due to Tory cuts – Mirror. “Since the Tories came to power, 817 have been shut or handed to volunteers, leaving 3,660 struggling on as councils try to balance books. Campaigners hope a Commons debate on the crisis next month will pressure the Government to protect library spending. Experts say the cuts are hitting the poor hardest as libraries cater for young parents, the old and jobless who cannot afford books.”
  • On-the-shelf idea: Time to get our libraries booked for business – City AM. ” why don’t we draw these threads together and transform a part of our local libraries into business hubs, which in turn could secure their future in the community?” … “We could repurpose a corner of all our local libraries into business “spokes”, radiating out from these main library hubs. The basic building infrastructure and good location already exists.”
  • Reading introduced as a prescribed treatment for mental health issues – South Wales Argus. “he scheme, which is known as ‘bibliotherapy’, is being launched in Wales following its success in England which has seen 931,000 people borrow over two million Reading Well books from public libraries. Free copies of the books will be available to members of the public to borrow from all 22 public library authorities in Wales from Wednesday, June 26, as well as supporting promotional material including leaflets containing the book list.”


  • Australia – Fee-free overdue policy prompts library renaissance among young TasmaniansABC News. “More than 8,000 new members signed up to the state-run library service in just five months between November 2018, when the changes were introduced, and March this year. It is a stark contrast to the loss of 900 members Libraries Tasmania encountered in the same period the year prior.” … “Data released in response to a question-on-notice during budget estimates showed the Education Department wrote off more than $330,000 in overdue fees last financial year as part of the reform. “We looked at what it was costing us in staff time, sometimes it was getting down to us chasing people through a debt collector,””
  • Canada – 10 big ideas from around the world to inspire Ottawa’s new super library – Ottawa Citizen. “The team behind the 216,000-square-foot project with a $193-million price tag is currently on what might be described as a library world tour, surveying standout institutions with an eye to shaping our own”. Many interesting examples from the world listed.
  • Global – What The Library Means To MePrinch. “we’ll take a look at quotes from people all over the world, from different demographics, backgrounds and stages in life; but all have been asked to share their personal thoughts, on what the library means to them.”
  • India – How Much Is India Spending On Its Public Libraries?Bloomberg Quint. “There were 70,817 libraries in rural areas and 4,580 in urban areas serving a population of more than 830 million and 370 million, respectively, according to the 2011 Census where libraries were notified (officially identified) for the first time. These numbers roughly translate to one rural library for every 11,500 people, and one urban library for over 80,000 people … There is no relationship between a state’s capacity to spend on libraries and its willingness to do so, studies have revealed … Public libraries in the U.S., U.K. and other European countries use library resources to cater to large populations. In the U.S., for example, the public library system provides services to 95.6 percent of the total population and spends $35.96 per capita annually, whereas in India the per capita expenditure on the development of public libraries translates to 7 paise [Less than one pence].
  • Pakistan – A Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of Pakistan’s Gun Markets – New York Times. “A local book lover, Raj Muhammad, hopes it becomes known as the home of the Darra Adam Khel Library. Located near a gun shop that his father built 12 years ago, the library opened in August, and Muhammad considers it a labor of love as well as a message to the area and the wider world. “I put books on the top of the gun market, making them superior to guns,” he said. “It’s a step for peace.” … “Now the military is helping Muhammad build a new library that can accommodate up to 65 people, seeing it as a way to help residents recover from years of traumatic violence.”
  • USA – Protesters against Maryland Drag Queen Story Hour outnumber event attendees – Life Site News. “About 100 Christians showed up throughout the day “to pray in reparation for the violation of childhood innocence and for the conversion of parents who’ve abandoned their God-given role as protectors of their children by bringing them to this depraved event,” according to Father Kevin Cusick, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish.”
    • Florida library’s LGBTQ prom canceled over safety concerns – Fox News. “the event met opposition when conservative activist Elizabeth Johnston campaigned against the affair, urging her supporters to follow her lead. That was when the library decided to cancel the prom. “Express your disgust that this pervasion is taking place in a taxpayer funded library,” Johnston told her 636,000 Facebook followers.”
    • Man behind biblical theme park warns that ‘libraries are becoming dangerous places for kids’ – Yahoo. “Ken Ham, who is the CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis, criticized libraries for supporting LGBTQ-friendly narratives in tweets on Sunday. Ham is the founder of Ark Encounter – a giant replica of the Noah’s Ark located in Willamstown, Ky., – as well as the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., which highlight and promote Christianity and Bible history.” and Man who thinks the earth is 6,000-years-old: ‘Libraries are becoming dangerous places for kids’ – Dead State.
    • Petition against Drag Queen Story Hour goes viral – Life Site News. “LifeSiteNews and Personhood Alliance have launched a massively successful petition campaign against the perverted “Drag Queen Story Hour” (DQSH) phenomenon. Personhood Alliance Education’s research has uncovered the fact that these offensive and dangerous events are actually partly funded and orchestrated by none other than the American Library Association (ALA).” … “The petition, therefore, urges the ALA to stop promoting homosexuality and the LGBT agenda and start promoting literacy again.”
  • USA – New York City Public Libraries Drop Kanopy Free Movie-Streaming Service – Variety. “Kanopy suffered a blow with the decision by New York City’s three public library systems — collectively the biggest library system in the U.S., with some 210 branches across the Big Apple — to drop the free movie-streaming service, citing high costs.” see also As Kanopy’s Popularity Grows, Can Your Library Continue to Afford It? – Indie Wire.”Kanopy said it did offer NYPL a capped model plan, but the two sides remained extremely far apart. IndieWire has learned that Kanopy insisted on a cap that was many multiples higher than New York was willing to spend.”
  • USA – Thinking outside the stacks: The Growth of Nature Smart Libraries – Children and Nature Network. “My data show that librarians want to participate in this movement, but they need your help. Nearly all of these initiatives represent the grassroots efforts of a unique constellation of actors working in specific local communities. After all, nation-wide 85% of public library funding comes from local jurisdictions. We need more research and knowledge creation on the impacts of these efforts, and we need your help to make this happen. Learn more about this project and its goals at Let’s Move in Libraries. 

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Aberdeenshire libraries are going on a bear hunt – Press and Journal. “Knitted teddies are to be hidden across the region to celebrate We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The search will be launched on Saturday July 6, in time for the school summer holidays, and small prizes will be on offer. Aberdeenshire Council’s communities committee chairwoman Anne Stirling said: “This is a really innovative way of marking the anniversary of this well-known children’s book by Michael Rosen.” … “Children and those young at heart can pick up a card from their local Live Life Aberdeenshire library to mark down the bears’ hiding places.”
  • Angus – New mobile libraries to serve isolated rural communities in Angus – Courier. “Angus Alive’s two new mobile library vans Isla and Glen were unveiled at Peel Farm in Lintrathen and will start their working life on Monday. The two new library vehicles, being slightly smaller than their predecessors, will make regular, scheduled visits to remote areas of the Angus Glens which have not had a library service in recent times.
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Brand new mobile library for B&NES to enter service at the start of July – Bath Echo. “The custom-designed vehicle will provide a full lending service giving access to DVDs, talking books and the three million books available from the LibrariesWest catalogue.”
  • Bolton – Cultural delights are what makes town great – Bolton News. “…libraries are a crucial part of any community. They give children access to exciting new worlds and knowledge without having to worry about the cost. The buildings are also local hubs – a great place for people to meet and socialise. Bolton Central Library is housed in a magnificent building, with a huge collection of books and fascinating and priceless archives.”
  • Buckinghamshire – You can now hire out your own tablet at Aylesbury Library – Bucks Herald. “‘Hublets’ are Samsung Galaxy tablets which customers can borrow for use within the library itself. All you need is your Buckinghamshire library card and PIN to release a Hublet for up to two hours, completely free.”
  • Cheshire East – Nantwich Library to launch 20th annual Summer Reading Challenge – Nantwich News. ““Last year more than 6,500 children took part across Cheshire East making us one of the highest participating authorities in the North West.”
  • Cumbria – TV licence to be bought for library – Times and Star. Town council buys tv licence for Cockermouth Library after county council declines to do so.
  • Derby – These Derby libraries will be handed over for a local charity to run – Derby Telegraph. “The Phillip Whitehead Memorial Library at Chaddesden Park and Blagreaves Library are set to follow in the footsteps of Sinfin, Spondon and Allestree libraries in becoming community managed libraries. A fourth library at Mackworth officially became a community managed library this month, on June 24″ … “A total of 10 libraries will be run by DHA [charity Direct Help and Advice] when the handovers are complete and this will leave five libraries still in city council control – Pear Tree, Alvaston, Mickleover, the Local Stdies Library and the Riverside Library in the Council House.”
  • Essex – Community won’t bid to run Manningtree library – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Members of Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley councils held an informal meeting to discuss the future of Manningtree’s library last Thursday. Essex County Council wants to shut a third of its libraries, while it hopes volunteers will run others, in a bid to save £2 million. But attendees of last Thursday’s meeting decided not to submit an Expression of Interest to the county council in the hope it would help to save the library service as it is.”
    • ‘No silence please over library plan’ – Clacton Gazette. “Tendring Council’s opposition – made up from Tendring First, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and independents – has called for an extraordinary meeting to discuss a motion concerning the future of libraries in the district. The motion calls on the cabinet of Essex County Council to rule out the closures or any reduction in opening hours of public libraries in Tendring and to instead concentrate on making better use of them as community hubs and to maximise the use of the buildings to generate income for the library service.”
  • East Sussex – Rallying call to Ore community to save local treasure – Hastings and St Leonards Observer. “The Save Ore Library Group is on the threshold of holding a public meeting and recruiting volunteers with a view to taking on the running of Ore Community Library. The Group was founded two years ago in response to plans by East Sussex County Council to close the library.”
  • Manchester – Watch a Brand New Manchester poem in 64 languages – Manchester Libraries Blog. “A brand new multi-lingual poem incorporating an incredible 64 different languages and written mostly by school children, takes pride of place from this week in Manchester Central Library for the next year.” … “Local school children and community groups have been invited over the last year to add new lines to a poem ‘Made in Manchester’ written by local poet Zahid Hussain. What makes the poem unique however is that the youngsters and others were all asked to contribute lines written in their own heritage language, to highlight the cultural diversity of the city – a city that is proud to be called home by people speaking more than 200 different languages.”
  • Norfolk – Plans for future of 11 axed children’s centres revealed – Eastern Daily Press. “A further three centres – in Loddon, Gorleston and Harleston – will be based in libraries and used to supplement their work with young children.”
  • North Yorkshire – Council pledges to continue supporting volunteer-run libraries – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “Stokesley councillor Bryn Griffiths said the continued success of the market town’s library was only due to residents agreeing to pay extra council tax for a library manager, as organising 32 volunteers was a complex job. Scarborough councillor Tony Randerson questioned whether the county would continue providing support staff. He said: “The libraries are coping on the basis that there is additional paid support by North Yorkshire County Council. Without that I think they would struggle really badly. It is essential that that support is kept on.”
  • Oldham – International bestselling author from Saddleworth inspired by local libraries – Saddleworth Independent. “When Saddleworth author Phaedra Patrick visited Oldham Library as a young girl, she dreamed that one day her own books would sit on the shelves there.” … “To celebrate the launch of her latest book, Oldham Libraries are running a social media competition on Thursday, July 27. A picture of Phaedra’s book will be posted in a mystery location and fans will be invited to guess where it is. A winner will be selected from the correct answers.”

“I am writing as a library user from Sheffield, I have been using libraries intensely since 2008, having always had an interest in reading. The interest I had for libraries and reading developed into a passion and hobby purely on the strength of visiting our beautiful art deco central library, which at the time had it’s own music library, fully staffed and stocked reference library and much more. In recent years our libraries in Sheffield have borne the brunt of austerity cuts, with 15 libraries now run by volunteers each with their own book collections in addition to the council controlled stock, these books are not on the main Sheffield Libraries catalogue meaning library users may be missing out on accessing particular titles.

The area of Tinsley, an area with high numbers of adults and children who speak English as a second language, now does not even have such a volunteer run library, having to make do with a small room full of books housed in a small room in the local community forum. This is despite the council owning an empty Carnegie Library literally just over the road. Book loans according to the councils own figures have declined at volunteer run branch libraries, as has income ironically in the same period charges for library fines, printing and other services were increased a few years ago. A new strategy obviously needs to be adopted in Sheffield, perhaps following the example of neighbouring Barnsley library service which has recently announced it is scrapping library fines in an attempt to boost library usage.

Libraries are such vital institutions, it is only right Sheffield gets the library service it deserves to enable future and current generations to change their lives as I have done mine through reading for pleasure.” Matt, Sheffield library user

If you think it’s been a while since my last post, just wait for the Single Digital Presence


Well, sorry about that. It has been a really long time since the last Public Libraries News post. This is due to me having a bout of glandular fever. It was not fun, it took a long time, and of course news kept on stubbornly happening – in the same way work emails do – when I was off work so it took me a while to catch up.

The preliminary report of the £320k (yes, £320k) British Library research into a single digital presence for English libraries has been produced. It gives a list of options for what a single digital presence may be … and suggests further research. The final phase of research is running until September 2019. and will build upon the June 2019 report to provide practical recommendations for the sector to consider about funding and governance models, drawing on user research and ongoing input from colleagues across the sector. The British Library have recommended that key elements of this work are owned and led by the public sector and will be looking at options for public investment. It is not the fault of the BL team, led by the very capable Liz White,  that I’m really frustrated by this but rather those who have repeatedly kicked it into the long grass in the first place. A single digital presence is up and running in several countries already and the fact that even the form, or source of funding, for an English one hasn’t even been decided upon is deeply frustrating. It suggests there is something spectacularly and embarrassingly wrong with the public library system and how it is run. But then we knew that already (see the structure chart at the top of this page). It’s clear to everyone that we won’t see anything this decade and, frankly, I’m a tad bit worried about whether we get something the next. It may well be beyond 2025 before we get a decent national website at this rate. And we must fear the possibility that we may never meaningfully will.

Something that is happening surprisingly quickly, on the other hand, is the move by libraries towards being fines free. Both Salford and Barnsley have announced they are removing fines since my last post. From my conversations with senior managers, it has become clear that few if any defend fines as an effective tool of getting books back – that would be difficult with the evidence coming in from those who have removed fines that it makes barely any difference – but rather that they’re simply more worried about the money that fines bring in that will be lost. That’s no way to run a welcoming library service free for all but it’s the way that cash strapped managers have to think. But gosh it’s such a good sell for councils when fines are removed that there’s hope many more others will get the needed impetus to do what is right soon.



National news

  • £1 million for museums, archives and libraries in Wales – Government of Wales. “In addressing the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Wales Annual Conference today, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord-Elis-Thomas, announced that museums, archives and libraries in Wales will benefit from nearly £1 million Welsh Government capital funding to develop and enhance their facilities and services”
  • Digital Transformation for UK Public Libraries June 2019: – Five approaches to a “Single Digital Presence” –  British Library. Funded by ACE and Carnegie UK Trust. “This report is an independent study by a small team within the British Library and reflects our provisional evaluation of these options for transformation, which vary in degrees of cost, complexity and feasibility”. Lists five options – one national LMS, “UK-wide content discovery”, “Unified digital lending”, “safe social space” and “one library brand”. No clear path recommended or funding found. Press release.
  • Dwindling UK libraries have ‘fallen into trap’, warns campaigner – BookSeller. “New figures showing the dwindling popularity of UK libraries suggest the facilities have fallen into a “trap” and a new approach is needed, campaigner Tim Coates has said. Coates, a former Waterstones m.d, commissioned consumer research on where readers get their books. Three hundred UK residents were polled about their reading habits for the survey, with the figures showing 87% had “made use of a book” in the previous 12 months.” see also Struggling libraries are ‘trying to do too much’ by offering yoga classes and iPads, former Waterstones boss says – Telegraph. “Tim Coates criticised the “hopeless” direction libraries in the UK have taken over the past 20 years, attributing their declining use to the industry’s obsession with “rigging them out” with the latest technology and trendy activities”. See the full research in this presentation. and Week in Libraries: New Reader Survey Urges Publishers, Libraries to Close Their Data Gap – Publishers Weekly.
  • Entrepreneur hubs – now in your local library – Edinburgh Reporter. “The Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes launched a new network of business hubs yesterday. The hubs are located in public libraries and are intended to both inspire and support entrepreneurs. This is the Scottish Coworking Network developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) using funding from The Scottish Government. It is hoped that local freelancers and start-ups will use the dedicated space to meet, work and perhaps collaborate.”
  • Free ‘Access to Research’ online search service in public libraries is re-launched – Publishers Licensing Services. “Analysis of the top 20 search terms by month nationwide for 2018 has thrown up an idiosyncratic list of interests, in addition to the perennial concerns of health, history and science. Medical ailments are well represented (‘Caesarean nerve damage’ and ‘Effect tuition fees have on students’ mental health’) but there is also room for the somewhat specialized (‘Llama antibodies’ and ‘Ragwort’).”
  • Funding For Local Authorities In England Has Fallen By 21%, Report Says – Huffington Post. “Funding for English councils fell by 21% between 2009-10 and 2017-18, according to a report by Britain’s leading independent economics thinktank. The funding system for English councils is “unsustainable” and the government must take action to address it, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said. Spending on planning and housing services dropped by more than 50% while leisure and transport departments saw cuts of more than 40%. Researchers for the IFS said things are set to get worse as revenues from council tax and business rates are unlikely to keep pace with rising costs – particularly around social care – and increasing demand for services. “
  • Government’s ‘drastic cuts’ amount to human rights violation, UN says – Metro. “‘The social safety net has been badly damaged by drastic cuts to local authorities’ budgets, which have eliminated many social services, reduced policing services, closed libraries in record numbers, shrunk community and youth centres and sold off public spaces and buildings.”
  • Guardian Books: ‘You can tell a lot about a country by how it treats its libraries’ – Guardian. “I think you can tell a lot about a country by how it treats its library service, and a country’s leader on how they treat their authors. Authors are the canary in the coalmine for so many social issues – we can see in the fluctuations on the bestseller charts how people value their guidance on anything from women’s rights to sovereignty.”
  • Home is where the art is: Developers are including cultural amenities such as arts centres, cinemas and libraries in several new projects – Mail. “In North-West London, two libraries that were closed down have now returned under community control. Cricklewood Library was demolished to make way for flats but concerned locals examined the deeds -– which are owned by Oxford University’s All Souls College. They contained a statement declaring that there had to be a place of learning on the site. A crowdfunding campaign raised more than £100,000 to provide a modern, multi-purpose library. Similar moves were made in Kensal Rise, where a library also had deeds owned by All Souls.”
  • Libraries On The Brink Of Closure As Visitor And Staff Numbers At A Record Low – Speaker. Dudley and Wolverhampton libraries experience examined.
  • ‘Libraries protected me at my most vulnerable’: Kerry Hudson on why libraries can’t be lost – Penguin. “Lowborn author Kerry Hudson is proudly working class, but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was grinding and often dehumanising. She shares the vital role that libraries and books played in her life, and why we must do everything in our power to protect them.”
  • Libraries resources – Arts Council England. Links to all reports produced by ACE.
  • Libraries saved me when I was vulnerable. I won’t desert them now – Big Issue. Kerry Hudson: “On Twitter I asked for stories from people from marginalised backgrounds who wouldn’t be doing what they now are without libraries. Over 200 deeply moving stories flooded in. Each was unique but many aspects of the stories overlapped, circles within circles, a Venn diagram of the true significance of libraries. Stories came from those who were in care, those from chaotic, poor or abusive households, those who were bullied, those with disabilities or mental health problems, those who were LGBT, those who just needed a place they wouldn’t be turned away from. Though many said that without those loaned books they’d have remained near uneducated or would never have gone to university, many more told me libraries also offered them desperately needed escape, safety and possibility where none existed otherwise.”
  • Library volunteers filling in for full-time staff after Tory cuts, says Labour – Mirror. “tatistics from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy show that between 2010/11 and 2017/18, the number of paid staff in libraries in England, Wales and Scotland plummeted by 7,538. In England, where the Tories were in power throughout, overall numbers dropped by 6,657 – some 35%.” … “Falls were less steep in Labour-controlled Wales where numbers declined by 19% – equating to 225 paid workers. And in Scotland, where the nationalists have been in power, the plunge was 646 paid staff – 24%. At the same time, the number of volunteers rocketed in all parts of the country.” … “Labour’s Deputy Leader, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson, said: “Library volunteers are the last line of defence between central government cuts and losing library branches altogether. “Volunteers are important to our public libraries, but so are professional staff with the expertise to support library users’ varied needs.”
  • Middlesbrough Central Library: Hugs, sleep and Islam for Dummies – BBC. “Libraries are more than buildings with books in. They are free gateways to infinite worlds and providers of help, advice and unexpected acts of kindness. As part of We Are Middlesbrough, the BBC has been finding out how the town’s central library cares for its people.”
  • National portfolio libraries: One year on – Libraries Connected. “Earlier this month, the Arts Council hosted an event in Birmingham where the six library services who are part of their National Portfolio could share and reflect on their activities over the past year. A vast range of activities were unveiled, with each library service producing a cultural programme tailored to their local communities.”
  • Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2019 – They Work For You. Rupa Huq MP: “The Manic Street Preachers said “Libraries gave us power”, but since 2010, 230,000 library opening hours have been lost and 127 libraries in England have completely shut their doors. I have three under threat in my constituency. I listened to the Minister’s answer. What advice or assistance can he give Ealing Council, which is struggling to keep its statutory services going with a 64% cut from the Government, to keep these engines of social mobility alive?”. Michael Ellis MP: “I would ask Ealing Council, as with other councils, to look at local authorities that are investing in libraries. Local authorities around the country of every political hue are opening, expanding and developing libraries. The first reaction to those facing budgetary challenges ought not to be to cut cultural items, but to provide support for them, and other local authorities have proven that they can do it.”
  • New £500,000 public engagement funding programme for UK libraries now open – Carnegie UK. “The new phase of the Engaging Libraries programme, worth £500,000, will offer around twenty selected projects direct project funding alongside a range of support and opportunities to build their skills.  We hope that this programme will inspire an exciting and dynamic range of new projects and initiatives, building on the success of phase one, which ran during 2017/8.  Engaging Libraries Phase 1 highlighted the enduring unique and important role that public libraries play in local communities across the UK as free, safe and trusted spaces, ideal for facilitating discussion and debate about a wide range of challenging subjects.”
  • North Wales hospitals, GP surgeries and libraries to benefit from £7m digital boost – News from Wales. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has approved up to £7million for the area to make the switch from copper-based services to ‘gigabit capable’ full-fibre optic provision, as part of its Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Programme. The move will provide locations including GP surgeries, libraries, hospitals and social services with resilient, cost-effective ultrafast broadband connectivity which can be upgraded in the future as new technologies emerge.”
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours: Lancing founder of children’s Summer Reading Challenge awarded MBE – Worthing Herald. “Anne Sarrag, 55, has been included in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to improving access to reading in the UK. With a career spanning three decades, Anne is perhaps best known for her work as the co-founder of LaunchPad, a charity that worked to promote library services to children and families. ” and her work at The Reading Agency.
  • Reading SightShare the Vision. “Readingsight.org.uk, is the newly updated, one-stop shop for a range of professionals to find information that will help them to support visually and/or print impaired readers. The website relaunch comes during the annual Make A Noise in Libraries fortnight which closes tomorrow. The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Get Connected’ and libraries across the UK have organised events and raising awareness around all that they do to help people with sight loss to continue reading. The fortnight is led by Share the Vision and RNIB.”
  • A room is not just a room: The Library as shared place and why it matters to communities – Christian Lauersen. “This piece is gonna be about why public places matters, how to work with public places and to wrap it up, the library as a public shared place and why it is so important to communities. This will not be about library décor, library architrchture or library design.”
  • Twine – Free bundle of digital tools offered by Power to Change to Community Managed Libraries – Community Managed Libraries Network. “Twine allows you to log volunteer hours and visitor footfall quickly and digitally and then use this digital data to create efficient reports. It is designed overall to make reporting on volunteer and visitor stats faster and easier. It’s been designed with simplicity in mind and overall is very easy to use. “
  • Veteran librarian from Havant is made an MBE for her impressive career – Portsmouth Herald. Gillian Harris, ” ‘I am amazed and deeply humbled to be nominated for an MBE, and proud on behalf of all the many very hardworking and dedicated people I have worked alongside in my career – in Tower Hamlets and with CILIP, SLG, ILIG and Ascel”
  • Vincent the therapy rat travels to schools and libraries to help children learn to read – Metro. “Vincent is a therapy rat, heading into schools and libraries to help children learn to read. To be clear, this is not a genius rat able to sound out words and teach children about spelling and grammar. He’s there to provide comfort and a non-judgmental ear for kids who need a confidence boost when it comes to reading aloud.”

  • Welcome to Library Island – Dr Matt Finch. Full text needed for roleplay training game designed to help library staff think strategically and secure funding. See Library Island Is Here. “This interactive training activity helps participants to explore strategy, innovation, and the messy business of working with communities. We’ve spent the last two years perfecting Library Island with university staff, health workers, museum professionals, students, and, yes, librarians. The free CC-licensed print-and-play kit is now available for download in PDF format. Feel free to adopt it, adapt it, and make your own visit to Library Island.

  • Welsh Libraries at the Beating Heart of their Communities – Business News Wales. “Living Well in Wales is a nationwide initiative that brings together public libraries and partner organisations to highlight the important role libraries play at the heart of their local communities  and promote the thousands of events and activities promoting health and wellbeing held in libraries each year.”

International news

  • Australia – How libraries became tourism hotspots – Arts Hub. “Globally, libraries have been adapting. Professor Stuart Kells takes a tour of the world’s best and discovers why they are still vital.” … “So what did we learn from all this library touring? Reports of the death of the library are certainly exaggerated. People, including young people, continue to use and appreciate libraries. People are still investing in libraries, and they are still buying and reading books. But the libraries and their custodians are engaged in hot battles on multiple fronts, including the fight against underfunding and creeping volunteerism, and the epochal clash between analogue and digital content.”
  • Canada – Inter-library loans to be revived in north after outcry – Star. “Inter-library loans will resume in northern Ontario starting in June — but with the future of such loans in the southern part of the province still in limbo, it remains unclear how much of the popular service will return. And local libraries are also raising concerns about the government’s huge funding cut to the two provincial organizations that co-ordinate the book sharing, and the impact that will have on other crucial services and support the two provide.”
  • Critics of Millennium library security measures demand changes ahead of public report – CBC. “Broad and Millennium For All have spoke out against the security measures which include bag checks and handheld metal detectors since they went into place late in February. Last month, the group held a silent ‘read-in’ event in the lobby of the library near the screening area. Library management originally instituted the policy to crack down on the rise of serious violent incidents and threats which they said had increased by 75 per cent since 2013.”
  • Halifax libraries join nationwide movement towards free menstrual products -Atlantic CTV News. “Some of the products are donated by community groups, Kachan said, but the library system foots the bulk of the cost as part of its operating budget. “It’s really an extension of providing toilet paper and soap,” Kachan said. “These are basic hygiene products … that allow people to deal with the physiological realities of their day.”
  • Eire – Old tomes return home as libraries close the book on late fees – Times. “The abolition of library fines at the start of the year has led to books being returned to public libraries after decades out on loan.”
  • USA – In One Year, People Visited Public Libraries More Than a Billion Times – IMLS. “More than 171 million registered users, representing over half of the nearly 311 million Americans who lived within a public library service area, visited public libraries over 1.35 billion times in 2016.”
  • USA – Librarians Are Trying to Encourage Children to Read—by Bringing Books Straight to the Laundromat – Mother Jones. ” thousands of families are benefiting from storytimes and bookshares in laudromats across the country. Adam Echelman, executive director of Libraries Without Borders, a nonprofit that aims to bring knowledge and information to those most in need worldwide, says, “You’re able to hold programs at a time and place that really meets people where they are. You have a captive audience, families return weekly, and it’s open all the time.”
  • USA – Library Could Do Away with Overdue Fines – Loudoun Now. ““I think that … the purpose of a library is to provide free and equal access to every citizen,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).”
  • USA – Library innovation with Maxine Bleiweis and Bill Derry – Princh. “We hear about libraries that are “innovative”, but what does that really mean? What is library innovation? What makes a library innovative? Can one characteristic or initiative make a library innovative?” see also Liquid Libraries – Alcohol and Libraries – Princh.
  • Local news
  • Aberdeen – Six Minutes a Day: Aberdeen library launches reading challenge – Evening Express. “Aberdeen Reads is open to everyone and the city council is urging people to get their family and friends involved in the challenge too. It involves reading for at least six minutes every day and can include books, newspapers, magazines or other material. The project also features a number of mini challenges every week to help people explore their local libraries.”
  • Aberdeenshire – Scoop up books to win ice cream prize – Inverurie Herald. “This year, the library service is going to award one of these children the title of “Aberdeenshire Star Reader” and the winner will be awarded a prize kindly donated by Mackie’s of Scotland – £100 Book Gift Card and a year’s supply of Mackie’s Ice Cream.”
  • Barnet – Save Barnet Libraries: Campaigners ‘cautiously optimistic’ after council expands scope of review – Ham and High. “At a meeting of the town hall’s community leadership and libraries committee, the committee accepted an opposition amendment put by Labour’s Cllr Sara Conway to widen the scope of the intended review so that it now also will consider the impact of the loss of space at libraries and the impact on disabled people.”
  • Barnet Council denies library ‘cover-up’ claims – Times series. “The council has denied claims that an upcoming review of libraries involves a “cover-up” of the impact the cuts will have on disabled people and other groups. Campaigners from Save Barnet Libraries slammed a planned evaluation of the borough’s libraries as falling “far short of what is necessary” and demanded a “full and transparent inquiry” into cuts to the service.”
    • Serious concerns over Barnet libraries after shake-up – This is Local London. “Locked toilets, a dead rat and a man openly watching porn are just some of the problems recently faced by people using the borough’s libraries. They were among a range of serious concerns raised by residents and councillors calling for a far-reaching review of Barnet’s library service, which has undergone sweeping changes over the past few years.”
  • Barnsley – Library fines scrapped and debts cleared in Barnsley – Star. “From July 1 no further fines will be issued for books which are overdue and outstanding fines will also be removed, in a change which also ends the use of reservation fees for those requesting books not in stock at their local branch. The change means fines will never be issued against users of the new flagship Lightbox central library, due to open in May Day Green this summer. Councillors hope that removing fines will take away a stigma which could discourage parents from taking their children into libraries, if they have had bad experiences with being fined in the past.”
  • Bolton – Ian Savage: Why libraries matter so much for young minds – Bolton News. “The former Tesco Metro supermarket building in Market Street will be demolished and the library and health centre built on the site. The CGI images accompanying the application look pretty impressive. What particularly pleases me is that under this plan a library will remain in Little Lever.”
  • Bradford – BookStart Bear celebrates Silsden Library’s second birthday – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “Silsden’s library, which was formerly run by Bradford Council, reopened in the town hall under the management of volunteers on June 9, 2017.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Brighton librarian awarded British Empire Medal – Argus. “Her most significant achievement has been the success of the Jubilee Library in Jubilee Street, Brighton, which has been in the top six most popular of all public libraries in the country every year since it opened in 2005.”
  • Bromley – Workers at 14 libraries in Bromley to go on strike – London News Online. “Workers at 14 libraries have voted to go on strike on June 6 to protest against low pay and increased workloads caused by lack of staffing. The 14 libraries are in Bromley borough and 98 per cent of the 50 library staff voted for the day of action after a long term dispute with employers Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).” see also Bromley library workers to strike again over pay and working conditions – News Shopper.
  • Buckinghamshire – Nationwide cuts to libraries set to hit Buckingham – Buckingham Today. “Just 12 weeks after heartily celebrating the 70th anniversary of Buckingham Town Library, staff have been told they must reapply for their jobs … Staff are having to reapply for their own jobs and there are going to be less jobs. The narrative won’t be about that and you won’t be told about that but it’s really not very good that councillors come to be photographed with the wonderful staff and then the next week they have to reapply for their jobs. You can think what you like about that but I don’t think it’s very proper.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Refurbishment of Soham Library underway along with relocation of pre-school – Ely Standard. “Council bosses say the building is set to create a new welcoming, flexible and accessible library space and support the delivery of local services. This will include Neighbourhood Cares, which helps people find the support they need locally to help them live independently. Work started at the end of April but to minimise disruption and ensure the refurbishment phase is carried out safely and efficiently, the library will be closed to the public from Friday June 7 for around four weeks.”
  • Camden – Highgate library invites residents to test out its new digital tools – News Camden. “Highgate library is giving residents the opportunity to spend time testing out brand new digital equipment, including a virtual reality headset, a 3D printer, tablets, robots, e-newspapers, new PCs, self-service kiosks and much more.”
  • Carmarthenshire – Carmarthenshire’s library service is best in Wales – South Wales Guardian. “…library service is a model for the rest of Wales, according to a Welsh Government report. The council has been praised for its commitment to the future of its library service and for its forward-thinking approach in creating a new digital learning environment alongside its more traditional offering.”
  • Conwy – Mobile and home library service could be amalgamated under Conwy proposals – Rhyl Journal. “Housebound people in Conwy could lose a service that sees library books delivered to them by council staff. Members of the county’s finance and scrutiny committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss plans that could see the mobile and home library service amalgamated. As part of the changes, some housebound residents would be asked to have family members pick up books for them.”
    • Half of county’s mobile library stops to be scrapped – North Wales Live. “People currently receiving the housebound service will continue to receive it, but new applicants for the service will be asked if they have alternative ways to access library services, such as getting the assistance of family members. In a review of services, which included a public consultation, officers have proposed that 68 of the mobile service’s 120 stops will cease in the future”
  • Cornwall – Future of St Just Library secured – Coast FM. “St Just Library has been safeguarded for the community as part of a new partnership between the town and Cornwall Council. Under the agreement the library will transfer to the town council after alterations have been completed. The town council office will be relocated in part of the library building so visitors can access a range of services in one location.”
    • Perranporth Library transferred to Perranzabuloe Parish Council – Packet. “The future of Perranporth Library has been safeguarded after a new agreement which will see it transferred to Perranzabuloe Parish Council today. The arrangement, which is part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme, means the library will continue to provide all the key services essential to a modern library as well as access to a range of Council services. Perranporth Library is remaining part of the countywide service meaning customers will keep their existing library cards and can still visit, borrow and order books online from other libraries in Cornwall.”
  • Croydon – Libraries become sell out venues – Thornton Heath Chronicle. “Rebecca Kenny narrates Prokofiev’s symphonic which is touring four Croydon libraries including Thornton Heath Library on May 30 between 2-3.30pm.” … “The counci l has unveiled  a 10-year plan to transform the borough’s libraries into thriving cultural hubs  with investment to increase the number of books as well as  encouraging creativity from live performances to exhibitions and workshop”
    • Petition to save Croydon libraries branded ‘nonsense’ by cabinet member – Guardian series. “A petition to save four Croydon libraries has been branded a ‘nonsense campaign’ by the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport. Last week Croydon South MP Chris Philp started a petition against “secret plans to close four libraries”. He claims that Bradmore Green (in Coulsdon), Purley, Sanderstead and Shirley libraries are all in danger of closure. But Croydon Council is adamant that it will be keeping all 13 of the borough’s libraries open.”
    • Plans to refurbish Croydon’s libraries given public backing – Guardian series. Norbury: “More than 150 people attended an open day event hosted by councillors and council staff, filling out feedback forms to contribute their opinions on proposed designs. The refurbishment, which is due to start over the summer, will include a full roof replacement, upgraded ICT, redecoration and new furniture.”
  • Cumbria – Work of Barrow library praised – Mail. “A report to county councillors said: “Barrow Central Library is a well-used community resource open to all and already attracts many community groups.” “With free WIFI and free PC usage, more people are using the library to access services and by improving the flexibility of the building to allow a better customer and community experience, it is hoped that more services and activities can continue to be delivered from this building in future.” Works costing up to £1 million are planned to redevelop the library and are currently going through the planning process.”
    • A new chapter: Shed turned into library – North West Evening Mail. Library opened in shed by volunteers after cut to mobile library service.
    • Libraries recognised for support work – News and Star. “Libraries in Carlisle and Penrith have been awarded special status. They are two of six libraries across Cumbria to receive ‘healthy status’ for their work in supporting their communities. As part of the Healthy Library Initiative, library staff were trained in mental health first aid, dementia awareness, and suicide awareness amongst others. “
  • Dorset – Help make libraries the exciting hubs that people love – Dorset Echo. “Dorset Libraries are looking for adult volunteers as part of its latest recruitment drive. ”
    • Weymouth Library will close for two weeks to undergo £550k refurb – Dorset Echo. “As reported, the town’s central library is undergoing a £550,000 refurbishment that will see other services based there. Dorset Council says the revamp – in which it will transform into a library and learning centre – is approaching the final stages. But it will have to close later this month while work is carried out. Work is said to be progressing well and the areas on the first floor are now complete with a new meeting room for community use, interview rooms, public and staff toilets including an accessible toilet and a shared office space.”
  • Durham – New cycle stations in County Durham aim to encourages bike and book lovers alike – Northern Echo. “The Durham County Council Love Reading, Love Cycling initiative encourages greener modes of transport, bringing together active travel, the joy of reading and the use of libraries as social hubs, to increase health and well-being. Belmont Library has already benefitted from the scheme, with new cycle parking installed, as well as the provision of Bike Easy books and special bike seat covers to anyone using the bike stands.”
  • Ealing – Council selling books from libraries in Ealing for just 7p – My London. “Council figures show that since February last year 6,286 books were sold to Revival, a company that specialises in on-selling, rehoming and recycling old books. In exchange the council received £440.02.Campaigners trying to save Ealing’s seven threatened libraries have voiced concern about the sales.”
    • Akuba Reads ‘Hands Off’ @ Greenford SOS Library March, May 2019 – Akuba. “Akuba (Grace Quansah) reads a second version of ‘Hands Off’ at the Greenford Library March to Save Seven Libararies in the borough of Ealing from threatened closures.  There is also a small snippet of footage of the March, credited to Oliver New”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Summer of rockets and reading as libraries blast off for Space Chase challenge – Bridlington Free Press.
  • Edinburgh – Corstorphine Library closing for a few days – Edinburgh Reporter. “Corstorphine Library will close on Saturday 22 June 2019 for planned internal plasterwork repairs to take place and will reopen on Wednesday 26 June.”
  • Essex – Parents and children march against proposed library closure – East Anglian Daily Times. 70 march for Coggeshall Library:  “On Saturday, May 18, marchers met at Honywood School before walking to St Peter’s Primary School and continuing to the library where they enjoyed some funny children’s poems from poet and author Anne Boileau. ”
    • Austerity threatening our right to protest peacefully – Gazette Standard/Letters. “Essex Police is using the most underhand tactics to prevent legal, democratic, and peaceful protest marches taking place as their response to cuts. I have been involved in the organisation of protest marches in Essex going back to the Eighties and Essex Police had only ever been highly cooperative.”
    • Author Jacqueline Wilson backs campaign against Essex library closures – Southend Standard.
    • Authors, poets and journalists slam library closure plan -Times series. “Children’s book author Michael Rosen has joined the growing list of prestigious writers who have voiced their concerns against Essex County Council’s proposal to close up to 44 libraries in the county Michael shared his views on Twitter after seeing a video of an 11-year-old library user rallying crowds at the Young People’s March for Libraries in Colchester and then responded in a post.” AL Kennedy, Jojo Meyes and Kes Gray also respond.
    • Campaigner’s bid to have MPs discuss library axe plans – Gazette News. “Mr Walker, leading a group of 35 campaigners, has secured approval to launch a petition to the Government. The petition, which will be considered for debate in Parliament should it reach 100,000 signatures, is looking for an increase in funding for library services.”
    • David Baddiel and Michael Rosen back Essex libraries campaign – BBC. “Essex-born singer Billy Bragg has also tweeted his support on social media, as well as children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Essex photographer Tessa Hallmann took pictures of the celebrities holding placards supporting the cause.”
    • Manningtree library campaigner at Chelmsford march – Standard series. “Manningtree campaigners joined 700 protesters as they took to the streets of Chelmsford to march on County Hall on Saturday.”
    • Only people who want to close libraries are Tory county councillors – Halstead Gazette / Letters. “The only people who seem to support closures are the Conservative county councillors, all of whom have now voted against three motions that would have saved the libraries.” … “It was sad that not a single Conservative councillor or MP came to the march to hear first hand from children, poets and regular people about why a library is important to them”
    • Priti Patel hits out at Essex County Council over libraries axe plan – Gazette Standard. ““I am furious so many libraries in my constituency face the prospect of closure and since the proposals were published in November. “I have been in extensive correspondence with Essex County Council to make clear my serious concerns and throughout this period I have been consulting parish councils across the constituency to look at ways to save our libraries. “21,000 people responded to the consultation, demonstrating the strength of feeling there is against these closures.”
    • UK authors rally to save Essex libraries – Books and Publishing.
  • Flintshire – Delyn’s Assembly Member says library investment will boost ‘education and culture offer’ – Leader. “Flint Library is one of four libraries in Wales to benefit from nearly £1 million Welsh Government capital funding to develop and enhance their facilities and services. The Transformation Capital Grant Programme is supporting, museums, archives and libraries to transform services for users, and ensure their future sustainability. Hannah Blythyn AM said: “This is really good news for Flint Library and the Welsh Government investment in Flint is most welcome.”
  • Gateshead – Three Gateshead libraries to be transferred to community organisations that run them – Chronicle Live. Rowlands Gill, Whickham and Fellng: “the volunteer groups are set to be offered short term leases of the buildings. According to a report due to be heard by cabinet next week the lease will be “on a full repairing and insuring basis” and rent free.”
  • Gloucestershire – People who can’t visit local library could have books delivered to their homes by electric vehicle – Gloucestershire Live. “A new hybrid or electric vehicle would be bought to deliver pre-ordered books to residents who cannot visit their local library due to physical disabilities or lack of transport. The delivery vehicle would also be used to drop off and pick up books to various collection points in Gloucestershire.” … “There is an existing mobile library which delivers books to residents across Gloucestershire, but the county council said it needs repairs totalling £28,000 and cannot guarantee is would remain roadworthy.”
    • Gloucestershire libraries join #Bookface campaign – BBC. “Libraries across Gloucestershire have been merging books with staff members for the #Bookface campaign. The initiative is designed to encourage people to use their local libraries whilst having fun at the same time. Staff members go to great lengths to match their look to characters on the covers of their favourite books to make the photos look as realistic as possible.”
  • Hampshire – Libraries and social services under threat in new £80m spending cuts drive – Advertiser and Times. “The latest suggestions include shutting libraries and increasing reliance on volunteers, adding fees for parking at country parks, turning off streetlights for longer, and extending charges for non-household waste at recycling centres.”
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire Librarian recognised in Queen’s Honours – Hertfordshire Libraries. “Under his leadership, Hertfordshire Libraries were one of the first in the country to have self-service and Wi-Fi across all sites, as well as helping to develop volunteer-partnered libraries”
  • Lancashire – Use it or lose it: Friends of Fulwood Library out to revitalise Preston library – Lancashire Post. “Thankfully reopened a year later following a change in political stewardship at County Hall, Fulwood Library now has a new support group at the helm, a group of bibliophiles ready and willing to turn what has proved to be a well-loved library into even more of a community hub. Enter, the Friends of Fulwood Library. Established as part of a Lancashire County Council initiative, the group aims to promote the library’s myriad events, as well as the sheer pleasure of reading. Now boasting around 40 members, the Friends of Fulwood Library launched their group with an event last month, signalling their intent to get Fulwood reading and using the library more and more with an afternoon of poetry, music, activities, and refreshments.”
    • Chatburn Library set to reopen … three years after it closed – Clitheroe Advertiser. “Book lovers will be delighted to hear Chatburn Library is set to be reopened with a special event on July 1st by County Coun. Albert Atkinson. At a recent meeting, cabinet agreed a proposal to reopen the library and reinstate the running of it from Chatburn C of E Primary School, on Sawley Road. Work needed at the school to make it suitable for use as a library started on May 7th. Under the previous administration 26 of the county’s 73 libraries were closed towards the end of 2016”
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries smash two-million lending target – Skegness Standard. “Over the past 12 months, a record two million items, including books, e-books and DVDs, have been borrowed from Lincolnshire’s 15 core libraries, mobile libraries and e-services, a rise of 3 per cent, smashing previous records. In addition, 2018/19 has seen more than 5,000 events held within the county’s core libraries, attended by over 68,000 local people. Some of the most popular activities have included a Harry Potter Book Night and the Summer Reading Challenge, designed to engage more people with the joys of reading through imaginative activities and fun costumed events. The Book Bingo family reading challenge, which invited families to read a range of books from suggested categories to be in with a chance of winning a prize, involved nearly 400 families and highlighted the benefits of inter-generational reading.”
  • Merton – Nearly 100k granted to Merton libraries to improve special needs facilities – Wimbledon Guardian. “The project is being funded by a £94,826 Arts Council England grant”
  • Northamptonshire – Dementia day care centre to move out of Higham Ferrers due to library closure – Northants Telegraph. “Cando Care, which provides care and social activities for 16 people five days a week, is set to move out of its current location in Midland Road, Higham Ferrers, and set up 2.5 miles away at Irthlingborough library after Northamptonshire County Council decided to stop providing a library service in the town. Last week the community group proposing to take over the library decided to step down, saying the financial commitment being asked by the council was too much.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library helpers celebrated during Volunteers Week – North Yorkshire County Council. “From hosting under-5s storytimes to delivering books to housebound customers, volunteers are vital to the running of libraries.”
    • Council warned to fulfill statutory library duty – Craven Herald. “A council which saved £1.4m by handing over 33 libraries to varying levels of community responsibility has been warned it must continue to fulfil its statutory duty. A review on the second anniversary of the North Yorkshire County Council cost-cutting measure has found while the changes have led to library opening hours increasing, maintaining the services with volunteers was of “greatest concern”. A report to the authority’s corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee has found since the changes were introduced in 2017 library opening hours across the county have increased.”
    • Libraries honoured during Volunteers Week – North Yorkshire News Room. “Grassington hub and community library has been named North Yorkshire’s library of the year”
    • Praise for vital services of community libraries – Gazette Herald. “Helmsley, Norton Hive and Derwent Valley Bridge in West Ayton were among those recognised by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). The awards were announced by the chair of NYCC, Councillor Jim Clark, during a series of events he attended to celebrate Volunteers Week. Cllr Clark said: “I have been privileged during Volunteers Week to meet so many people who generously give their time and skills to support their communities in so many ways.”
    • Knaresborough Library launches autism friendly chill out room – Harrogate Advertiser. “Toys, mood lighting, and a dark tent are among the autism friendly equipment on offer in a new chill out room at the popular facility. The area, funded by The Forest of Knaresborough Masonic Lodge, will be used every Friday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. It is also available on request at other times.”
    • North Yorkshire council’s pledge to continue support for libraries – Darlington and Stockton Times. “The statement by North Yorkshire County Council, which saved £1.4m by handing over 33 libraries to varying levels of community responsibility two years ago, followed a number of concerns being raised over the authority fulfilling its duty under the Public Libraries Act to run a service which takes account of the needs of communities … A meeting of the council’s corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee heard while library opening hours across the county had increased since the changes, the improved service had come at an extra cost to residents despite the county council providing support staff”
  • Nottingham – Internationally acclaimed architects appointed to design Nottingham’s new Central Library – West Bridgford Wire. “the Council wants to feature the best children’s library in country.”
  • Oxfordshire – Charlbury Library hugely popular since community centre move – Oxford Mail. “New membership applications at Charlbury Library increased by 44 per cent in its first year in operation, while 2,219 items were issued on Sundays alone. Meanwhile, since moving to the town’s community centre in 2017, the library’s self-service machine usage has increased by 65 per cent.”
  • Salford – Salford council scraps overdue library book fines, saying it doesn’t want readers and families to ‘worry’ about daily charge – Manchester Evening News. “Salford council hope the move will open up the city’s libraries to all and said it didn’t want readers to ‘worry’ about incurring daily charge …The move in Salford comes at a time when town halls across the country are shutting library doors to save money. The city however has invested in its services and resisted any notion of closures. It’s hoped the move, which came into force on Saturday, would also increase membership and the city’s book offer.”
  • Shetland – Library lending rate best in Scotland – Shetland News. “Shetland Library has the highest booking lending rate per capita in Scotland – and the second highest in the UK. The figures were revealed as part of the Lerwick library’s performance update for April 2018 to March this year. Visitor numbers were up by 8.27 per cent as the library enjoyed increased footfall for a fourth year running. There were a total of 155,064 physical visits during the year, while a total of 5,532 people borrowed books. Issues of eAudio books were up by 187 per cent, while library van users increased by 4.6 per cent. A customer satisfaction survey heralded results of 93 per cent – down by three per cent on the previous year. Social media, meanwhile, was another boon for the library, which has previously hit the headlines for its joshing with the Orkney Library.” … “Fraser added that only Richmond upon Thames (5,279 loans per 1,000 population) bettered Shetland (5,159 loans per 1,000 population) when it came to loan rates in Britain.”
  • Staffordshire – Community inspired art showcased in a new exhibition – Staffordshire Newsroom. ACE funded project involving Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Leicestershire.
    • Glascote Library comes to life with ‘Libraries Live’ scheme – Birmingham Live. Staffordshire uses ACE funding of theatre show to suggest volunteer libraries are “there for everyone”.
    • Queen’s Birthday Honours for Staffordshire – Staffordshire News Room. “An MBE was also awarded to Sue Ball, who has worked in Staffordshire’s public libraries for more than 30 years. Currently responsible for strategy and policy in Staffordshire, in recent years she has overseen the transfer of Stafford and Newcastle town centre libraries into new premises.”
  • Suffolk – Has the bedtime story lost its place in the digital world? – East Anglian Daily Times. “Suffolk librarian and head of service deliveries Krystal Vittles shares some of the great bedtime reads out at the moment – and they are all in stock at Suffolk libraries.” … “Krystal Vittles, head of service delivery at Suffolk Libraries, said: “This isn’t about demonising technology as it has its place when it comes to helping children learn. However, this must be done in moderation and it’s about understanding the right time and place for tech.”
    • Clare library to shut for refurbishment Enjoy Sudbury More. “The facility, in Clare High Street, will be shut between July 1 and 8 for work to improve children’s facilities and provide better storage. The refurbishment has been paid for by developer contribution funds and fundraising from the Friends of Clare Library.”
    • Do you take books out of your local library? – East Anglian Daily Times. “Information collated through a Freedom of Information request has shown that a select group of authors have proved popular with Suffolk readers in the past five years. The data tracked the top 5 books loaned out of Suffolk’s libraries from the years 2014-2018 and also included data from January to May this year.”
  • Swindon – Justin Tomlinson – Swindon Advertiser. “Last week, I was delighted to host the national launch of the incredibly popular Summer Reading Challenge. This is the fifth time I’ve hosted the event in Parliament and it was brilliant to see dozens of MPs from all of the different political parties coming together to champion this fantastic cause.”
  • Wakefield – Get your free crime book and join the Big Read heading north to a library near you – Wakefield Express. “Thanks to his publisher, Orion, 1,500 free copies of the book are available and can be collected at any participating library plus the Harrogate International Festival Office now.”
  • Warrington – Library to close two months to prepare for new life – Warrington Worldwide. “Stockton Heath  Library will be closed for two months while redevelopment work is carried out in readiness for the building’s new life.” … “Not so long ago, Stockton Heath Library was threatened with closure, along with other libraries across the borough. But after a “save our libraries” campaign, plans were drawn up to widen the building’s usage and extend its role in the community. The plans, developed by the South Warrington Libraries Working Group; and SWISH (Friends of the South Warrington Library in Stockton Heath), include: • Upgrading the building for provision of rental areas to ensure income streams • Widening the scope of community engagement with library provision and activities • Adapting the library to better accommodate the range of local needs/disabilities such as dementia or sensory disability • Increasing the building flexibility to extend the potential range of activities, such as literary events or cultural presentations.”
    •  Learning ‘comes to life’ thanks to new augmented reality books Warrington Worldwide. “LiveWire has run a number of recent public workshops at its libraries to introduce library users to the augmented reality technology and books – that feature topics including dinosaurs, extinct animals, ocean predators – with space and science-focused titles coming soon”
  • West Sussex – Shoreham Library 50th Anniversary in pictures – Shoreham Herald.
  • Worcestershire – Pictures: Protestors take to the streets of St Johns against library cuts – Worcester News. “The group, which gathered outside St John’s Library, formed a group and marched through the streets of St John’s to the traffic lights, then performed a lap around the back of the St John in Bedwardine church before arriving back at the library. ”
    • Campaign group celebrates news that Worcester libraries will be saved – Worcester News. “Sean McCauley, who organised the various protests, said: “We are delighted that the library is safe for the time being. “That being said, we would like assurances that the decision to save St John’s and Warndon has not come at the expense of libraries anywhere else in the county.”
    • New library cash vow is welcomed – Worcester Observer. “County council chiefs have welcomed the decision by Worcester City Council to approve £157,000 a year to fund the running costs of both St John’s and Warndon libraries. The future of several of Worcestershire’s libraries have been heavily discussed over the last few months, as almost 2,000 residents had their say on the future of libraries as part of the County Council’s public consultation.”