August is here


A quiet week, as one would expect from August. Enjoy your holidays, those of you who have them … and for the rest, here’s to a good Summer Reading Challenge and a return, however hesitant, to normality.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • AMA Conference 2021: 21-22 OctoberLibraries Connected Bursary Application Form – Libraries Connected. 3 bursaries.
  • The Bookseller to publish library-themed edition – BookSeller. “There will be several paid comment pieces commissioned from experts in this area, focusing on themes such as planning during the pandemic and digital content, as well as interviews and an in-depth focus on 10 libraries across the UK. The special issue, supported by OverDrive and Penguin Random House, will be the first ever library-themed edition of The Bookseller and will also survey librarians about their autumn highlights from a typically packed publishing season. “
  • Campaign Planning | Libraries Connected Marketing the Library Webinars | 2021 – Libraries Connected, Youtube. Excellent introduction on how to plan a promotional campaign of the kind so rarely seen in public libraries.
  • The Future of Libraries After Lockdown – Redbrick. “A combination of callous Tory policies and an unprecedented public health emergency has exerted immense pressure on all our public services. As we finally approach the end of our long trek out of the coronavirus pandemic, we must work to alleviate this pressure and invest all we can into this invaluable, if often overlooked, part of social life.”
  • GLL banishes holiday hunger – GLL. ” supporting the national Holiday Food and Fun programme this summer across London, in its Better branded centres.” … “Better branded facilities in Barnet, Bromley, Greenwich, Hillingdon and Wandsworth will also be providing a mixture of exciting physical activity sessions, interactive library-based craft and story sessions together with workshops on nutrition, to support young people to understand the importance of eating healthily.”
  • Have faith in libraries, a mark of civilisation – Sunday Times, partial paywall. “These truly civic institutions are in danger of closure. To let them fall would be to betray our children and ourselves” Kenny Farquharson. [Remarkable for Sunday Times to include pro public library piece: it normally ignores the sector – Ed.]
  • Programme Manager, Skills and Engagement – Reading Agency. Vacancy. “The Reading Agency is looking to appoint an experienced project manager to lead on the delivery of the Summer Reading Challenge and other aspects of our children and young people’s work.”
  • Struggling families will be given free book bags this summer – Open Access Government. “Reading Sparks is a joint initiative between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The Reading Agency. Working with 17 libraries across the UK, the free books scheme will run until 2023 and 1,000 book bags will be distributed in the coming months to families who are experiencing hardship.”

International news

  • USA – From Alone to Together Again: Using Data to Deliver Value – Public Libraries Online. “The services WL offered through 2020 are largely stand-ins for the familiar library services people want. As people’s preferred services were re-introduced, their use of the substitutes declined. We have concluded that the digital experience of the library exists in symbiosis with borrowing. “
    • Libraries Across The United States Are Ending Fines For Overdue Books – Forbes. Lists several library services going, or who have gone, fine-free, along with their reasons for doing so. This is mainly due to inequality and also people returning books anyway at similar rates if not fined. “The American Library Association passed a resolution in January 2019 stating, “The American Library Association asserts that imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services.”

Local news by authority

Variety: reservation charges and fines


My thanks to everyone who replied about if they knew of any library services who offered free reservations. May I just say … wow. I had around one hundred responses, leading me to wonder (as one commenter wryly noted) whether I should have asked for those who charged instead.

My thanks to Jane Johnson of Central Bedfordshire Libraries who collated the results: 60 services reported not charging, with some even expressing incredulity that services would dare charge, saying that this led to those living by smaller libraries being unfairly discriminated against. Interestingly, but not surprisingly considering the huge independence of services in the UK, practices varied hugely: with some charging for books not on the shelves, some charging for over 16s, some charging if the customer reserved online and did not ask a member of staff and some only charging for inter-lending. A few also noted that not charging was just for Covid and they would start fining again soon. The results are of course not comprehensive – I did not go through every library service – but it shows the wide range of practices going on.

Reservation charges was not the thing that people interacted most with me this week. Oh no. That honour goes to the tweet below and shows the strength of feeling about fines, with some again expressing shock that libraries still fine and one or two insisting that fines are the only way a library can work. Variety is big in libraryland.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Do Book Giveaway Programs Promote the Home Literacy Environment and Children’s Literacy-Related Behavior and Skills? – Sage. “The findings corroborate the assumption that book giveaway programs promote children’s home literacy environment”
  • Engaging Libraries – Reflections on the programme so far – Carnegie UK. “While not all of the Engaging Libraries projects were delivering activities during the time that data was collected, we are already able to see how libraries and their partners are energising and empowering the public.”
  • Inspired by Libraries: Stuart Maconie – Eccles Library / Youtube. “”Along with hospitals, libraries are the last thing a civilised society should be closing and cutting.””
  • Job opportunities: Help us overcome digital inequality in West Yorkshire – Libraries Connected. “West Yorkshire Digital Libraries is our strategy to take the next step in encouraging and supporting digital inclusion across the region. There are two parts to the programme: Rollout of an upgraded network including a tablet lending scheme and the development of the skills within the library and connected services to create digital champions across West Yorkshire. Creation of partnerships to make better use of these new digital connections. This includes development of new ways to support to children and families who are digitally excluded, support around housing and preventing homelessness, supporting people into employment, broadening support for small businesses, and the creation of digital health hubs in libraries.”

“‘The project is seeking funding at the moment. If it’s successful, we are considering applying for funding to take the learning from the project to the wider Yorkshire and Humber Libraries region, and potentially as a national programme. We’re also interested in taking this as a model where Libraries Connected can support regional or other groups of library services to form consortiums to bid for government funding where they may not have the internal resources or specific expertise to pull together a large scale collaborative bid.”

Marsha Lowe, Libraries Connected, in reply when I asked about if this was part of a larger project
  • New pilot project to encourage disadvantaged families to visit their local library – Nursery World. “More than 2,500 libraries across England are taking part in a pilot of the BookTrust Storytime project in the autumn. Funded by Arts Council England, the project will bring together local authorities, library staff, authors and illustrators to test new ways of inspiring shared early years story experiences through local libraries”
  • Online Media Literacy: why public libraries are the perfect partners – DCMS Libraries / About the library’s place in the governments online media literacy strategy.
  • Rediscover Reading this summer with your local library – DCMS Libraries / “Libraries Minister, Caroline Dinenage, shares her thoughts on reading to mark The Reading Agency’s Libraries Spotlight Day and encourage families to rediscover reading this summer.”
  • Read-iscover Summer: Celebrating Reading Week – DCMS Libraries / Sarah Mears promotes reading and libraries.
  • Robotics access vital for skills boost, says report – Eureka. “Robotics learning factories have already been successful in Germany and the US, and the model could be supported in the UK by local learning hubs like libraries or other public buildings.”
  • The simple fact is that reading matters – MJ (partial paywall). “There is a generation of children born just before or during the pandemic who will have never visited a library before. No chance to lose themselves in a world of books or see their local librarian bring stories to life.” … “Our survey of 1,000 families in poverty with a child under five across England, NI and Wales revealed that less than half are registered with a public library.  Families tell us they don’t visit libraries because they may not know what to do when they walk inside. They don’t know that libraries and the activities they provide are free and are worried their children may make noise inside.”
  • UK libraries become ‘death positive’ with books and art on dying – Guardian. “Death Positive Libraries, a scheme that started in Redbridge in 2018, uses activities, art and literature to remove barriers to talking about the subject – including reading groups, author talks, film screenings, art installations and “death cafes” where people can meet for conversation … So far 58 libraries have expressed interest to the charity Libraries Connected, which is working with the three libraries and academics from the University of Northumbria on a framework to help all libraries become death-positive.”
  • Why the Public Library Children and Young People’s Promise is vital – Books 2 All. Sarah Mears of Libraries Connected: “Making a difference to children’s lives has always been at the heart of the public library offer. So much so, that the sector has created a promise that outlines the service every child and young person should expect from their local public library.”

International news

Simulation of new library
  • Finland – Helsinki’s libraries ditch plastic book covers – The Mayor. “Instead of using plastic coverings and thereby contributing to plastic pollution, from 2021 the institutions will rely on a more sustainable, plant-based alternative, or will not be using any coverings at all.” … “existing plastic stocks will be used to protect books, until they are exhausted. Once this is the case, only bioplastic material will be purchased for covering. The transitional period should last no longer than a couple of months. Furthermore, the libraries are studying if covering books and other items is really necessary to extend their lifetime”
  • Ireland – ‘Derisory’ funding scheme for library books pays authors €32 – Times (partial paywall). “While eight authors received the maximum possible payment of €1,000, the majority received between €10 and €50 for public lending of their work. Irish writers received only €21,700 from the €200,000 scheme, with British authors getting the lion’s share.”
  • New Zealand – Auckland Council to remove library overdue fines from 1 September 2021 – Our Auckland. “The council is joining the global trend of removing library overdue fines with almost 600 libraries worldwide now fine free, including every public library in Ireland. “We’ve been researching and building the case for the removal of library fines and although fines were introduced to encourage returning of borrowed items, they have evolved to become barriers to equitable access to information and lifelong learning. Libraries who have removed the fines have experienced greater rate of return of items borrowed and membership growth,” says Councillor Cathy Casey.”
  • United Arab Emirates – In Pictures: Sharjah’s House of Wisdom – Gulf News. “The House of Wisdom, Sharjah’s new iconic cultural hub, was commissioned in honour of Sharjah’s recognition as World Book Capital 2019 by UNESCO and is the living legacy of the promises made then, namely, to continue to foster reading, enhance access to knowledge to all members of society and serve as a catalyst for harmonious coexistence.”
  • Sweden – Virtual Reality to develop new forms of storytelling and story creation in Ängelholm Public Libraries – IFLA. “When all the children had seen their world in VR and taken their photo, we gathered the whole class inside the library again for a joint conclusion to the workshop. We took one last green screen picture, a group picture which we then sent together with all the children’s individual pictures to the teacher. “
  • USA – Anonymous creep ‘rings librarians to masturbate as they read court case details to him’ – Daily Star. “The harassment has been going on for weeks, but with no clues as to who the caller is librarians have been urged to hang up if they are asked about the Brady v. Maryland Supreme Court opinion. A Facebook post from one of the targets said: “Does anyone remember the guy who used to call libraries asking for John Grisham titles to be read to him out loud? “I was a victim of that 8+ years ago and I think he just called again. This time he wanted an entire Wikipedia page read to him, so I’m just forewarning everyone that anyone calling for information on Brady vs Maryland should not be taken seriously.””
    • Libraries and Telehealth on the Vanguard for Broadband – Broadband Breakfast. “any libraries are moving toward telehealth. Three libraries in Delaware have recently installed telehealth kiosks, Seaford, Milford and Laurel. The Pottsboro, TX public library rolled out their telehealth center in January this year. Several library’s around the country are developing  digital navigators programs to facilitate telehealth.”
    • Library Late Fees – Not Just Ineffective, but Harmful – Galecia. “Increasing numbers of libraries have eliminated late fees because they are ineffective at promoting the timely return of materials, and argue that they undermine the mission of the library to provide equitable access to library services and resources.  In eliminating late fees, many libraries have discovered that the use of the library increases without the rate of overdue returns, and in some cases even reducing the number of late returns.  These libraries also report improved relationships between their library staff and the community.”
    • Library Spaces are Made for Everyone – EveryLibrary. Lists inclusivity examples such as basic skills and sensory rooms.
    • The Rescue of the New York Public Library – The Nation. “How did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? It’s a sordid case study of how corporate logic has penetrated nonprofit institutions, including large, urban public library systems.”

“Many images associated with libraries are positive but the shushing librarian stereotype and the fear of incurring late fees are probably the two most damaging.”

  • Library Late Fees – Not Just Ineffective, but Harmful
  • Local news by authority

    “Since taking on the management of Dudley Libraries, GLL has made a number of improvements to staff rotas and structures, including the removal of lone working in libraries – a practice that we inherited.  Some staff have raised concerns about the level of their recent pay increase and we have discussed these directly with them.  We would like to clarify that no jobs are at risk. “It is disappointing that Unison has shown more interest in organising a public meeting rather than engaging with GLL directly to discuss the issues. GLL is passionate about library services and operates excellent facilities across the country.  We value our staff and want to provide them with a solid, long-term future as we continue to develop and improve our offering in Dudley.”

    GLL Spokesperson on Dudley Unison meeting, via email to PLN.

    “Better branded facilities in Barnet, Bromley, Greenwich, Hillingdon and Wandsworth will also be providing a mixture of exciting physical activity sessions, interactive library-based craft and story sessions together with workshops on nutrition, to support young people to understand the importance of eating healthily.  

    London kids won’t go hungry during the holidays, thanks to Better Leisure Centres and Libraries press release 29 July.

    Truth Sleuth in Thrills, Chills and Chemical Spills is a beautifully animated, hilarious interactive storybook adventure like none other. This free game, aimed at young people, 9 and up, is full of delightful characters, silly jokes and food for thought. With retro references and whacky one-liners parents will love it too.  With Bookworm as your guide you are given a series of choices that are judged based on your integrity. Explore adult themes like scandal, protest, conspiracy theories and fake news all in a fun and light-hearted way. Can you use your online research skills to distinguish the trusted sources from the self-serving lies?

    Make sure to keep your integrity high or suffer the consequences. If it gets too low watch your reputation dissolve faster than ice cream in a kettle. But don’t worry, if no one believes you, you can always become a misinformation blogger. The game is based on the Modest Genius Theatre Company live-show, Truth Sleuth- Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age which was funded by Arts Council England and made in partnership with Pound Arts, Bristol and Wiltshire Library Services. Download the game from Google Play or search for Truth Sleuth in the App store.

    Helen Drakard, Libraries Connected.
    • Wirral – More Wirral libraries reopen their doors – Wirral Globe. But “”As Wirral continues to see case numbers increasing, the sites will still be operating under restrictions – with staff wearing face coverings, social distancing, one-way systems in operation and hand sanitising stations at the entrance and exit points.”
    • Wrexham – Have your say on the future of Wrexham mobile and pop up library service – Leader. “Wrexham Council is now proposing to continue with the pop-up service in communities with suitable venues, and to offer the order and delivery service to residents who don’t have a branch library that’s accessible by public transport. As well as offering a safer and more flexible option, the authority has said it thinks this proposal will help provide a cleaner, greener service that will cut down on road-miles and carbon emissions in the county borough.”
    • York – New library planned for York neighbourhood – The Press. “Explore York chief executive and city libraries boss Fiona Williams said the existing Clifton library near the Rawcliffe Lane play park was too small – and not really in the right place.” … “in addition to these services, the new library will have a café and a relaxing outdoor space, while inside space will be flexible and easily transformed for performances or other activities. There will also be space to bring partner organisations together at the heart of the local community.””

    Fancy taking the lead?


    I don’t like mentioning my library service, Cheshire West and Chester, because Public Libraries News and my work on it has no connections with it whatsoever but I’ll make the exception this week and point out that there is a Lead Librarian vacancy there at the moment. This is basically a joint deputy chief librarian position for the borough’s public libraries. Cheshire West is in a lovely part of the world with great transport connections and the internationally known Storyhouse. So if you fancy a move, do please have a look. That plug done, I’d also like to point out I’m doing a survey of which library services are offering free reservations. Please let me know of any if you can, thank you.

    Otherwise, it’s been a quiet (no shush jokes, please) week in public libraries news, with services returning to normal and doing the Summer Reading Challenge.

    Changes by local authority


    National news

    • Are UK public libraries heading in a new direction? – OUP Blog. “In this blog post, Karen Walker, Team Leader at Orkney Library and Archive, Katie Warriner, Information Services Librarian at Calderdale Libraries, and Trisha Ward, Director of Library Services, Libraries NI, discuss changes they have noted during the pandemic and shed light on what purpose, they believe, UK public libraries will serve for the community in “the new normal.”: services keeping click and collect, increase in eAudio usage and social media. No change in core purpose. Increase in loneliness.
    • British Library seeks designer for £100,000 branding project – Design Week. For the national Single Digital Presence for public libraries. “The naming and branding of the platform is part of the next phase, which will also see a public-facing version of the platform built and beta tested.” Pitches for business will be made in September and October.
    • Don’t let spending cuts ruin libraries – Yorkshire Post Letters – Yorkshire Post. “Opening a “public facing centre” of the British Library in Leeds is pure gesture politics. It cannot duplicate the vast reference collection held at St Pancras. It won’t lend out books. Yorkshire once had some excellent public library services. Like others, they’ve been catastrophically run down in the last 11 years due to the Conservative Government’s spending cuts. Professional staff were slashed and book stocks run down. A former pride of Britain is now a shambles”
    • Knowledge and power: real and fictional libraries leading resistance – Book Riot. Some real and fictional examples in the UK and USA. including the memorable book display behind Boris Johnson last year.
    • Service operational guidance – July 2021 – Libraries Connected. “he note has been prepared by Libraries Connected in consultation with Public Health England in line with published government guidance. Updated 15.07.21”
    • Sustaining Professional Confidence – Webinar Recording Available – British Library. Register to watch recording of free webinar.

    International news

    Local news by authority

    Going ape


    Public library services up and down the country are wrestling with what to do now Covid restrictions have been lifted while Covid is still very much present. From what I can tell by talking to people and from media reports, most services appearing to be returning to more like 2019 but with more hand sanitiser, staff still behind screens asking (but not telling) public to be masked, and hand sanitiser remaining obvious. There’s more variety when it comes to physical events – libraries are finding the risk assessments a bit difficult being they’re unprecedented – but a number are restarting them, including inside libraries.

    The big news this week, though, is not Covid related. It’s about a very inappropriate monkey costume used for a Summer Reading Challenge event. The costume is adult enough (including the male reproductive organ, I kid you not) that I will not include it here. The incident has been covered worldwide, with so much that there is a separate section below. Read about it in detail there if you wish. One of the key lessons for councils from this, unstated in the reports, is that it doesn’t matter to the public if their library service is outsourced or not. When push comes to shove, the public will still blame the council for its mistakes, even though the council may be genuinely unaware of the problem until the same time as the public and quickly acts upon it when they do notice it. Thus outsourcing comes with an unavoidable, and by the look of this story, pretty random and unpredictable, risk to reputational damage for the local council.

    Finally, it’s worth noting the fight continuing in Glasgow about some very serious potential job losses from their outsourced organisation for libraries and leisure, Glasgow Life. Up to 500 jobs are at risk there due to lack of income over the pandemic. It is noticeable there also that the local council, and even the Scottish Government, have got flak for something neither of them are directly in charge of.

    It looks like, in fact, when it comes to outsourcing. sometimes the public do give a monkeys.

    Changes by local authority

    National news

    • Libraries Connected launch new awards scheme for library staff – Libraries Connected. “The awards are linked to the Universal Library Offers and Promises and the judging panel will include those leading these areas of work nationally. The awards are open to individuals or teams” ..  Overdrive are sponsoring to pay for all the winners will get a free ticket (with accommodation) to attend both days of the annual Libraries Connected seminar in October. We’re also putting on a special awards dinner with (hopefully!) a VIP to present the awards to them in the evening. 

    “Public libraries offer free resources for study and learning. This includes media literacy skills, through channels such as online courses and information sources, and providing quiet spaces for study and reflection that people may not have at home. Libraries also provide opportunities for people to develop core online skills, such as the ability to analyse information confidently and safely.” (Nickie Aiken, Conservative, London and Westminster)

    “I thank my hon. Friend. She is quite right; there could not be a better campaign for the summer. We have put £1.9 million of support into the reading scheme that she mentions. But of course there is £200 million going into the holiday activities fund, and there could not be a better, more useful, happier way of occupying your time on holiday than reading a good book.” (Boris Johnson)

    Hansard 14 July
    • Online Media Literacy Strategy – DCMS. Public libraries have their own small section in the new document, including “Public libraries offer free resources for study and learning. This includes media literacy skills, through channels such as online courses and information sources, and providing quiet spaces for study and reflection that people may not have at home. Libraries also provide opportunities for people to develop core online skills, such as the ability to analyse information confidently and safely.”

    Libraries play an important role in communities and already offer training and support to the public to help them access technologies and navigate the online environment. The strategy will provide a training programme for frontline library workers who interact with members of the public every day to teach them about information literacy.

    Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage

    The Rainbow Monkey Incident

    • Actor in monkey costume with fake penis and bare bum was invited to library to encourage children to read – Independent. The Summer Reading Challenge “is all very wholesome stuff … until now.” … “Goodmayes Library in Redbridge, East London ruined everything by inviting an actor in a rainbow monkey costume with a fake penis and bare bum to the launch event, and created an absolute s**t storm.”. Arranged by Redbridge Vision, not council. Council Leader complains and event is stopped, apologies made. Libraries says they were not aware of monkey costume at time of booking, theatre group have “retired” costume. However, previous tweet exchange between Redbridge Libraries and Exeter Library suggests at least some in library service knew about the costume. “Sorry but we are just thinking about the brainstorm meeting that led a library to think a ‘Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey’ was the best character to get children to read. Nope, we can’t image how on Earth it happened so we welcome whistle-blowers who wish to come forward.”

    “Local Labour MP Wes Streeting asked how “anyone involved – including your staff – thought that a costume described by one national journalist – with depressing accuracy – as a ‘Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey’ was appropriate for family audiences around our libraries and public realm, let alone a festival aimed at promoting literacy amongst children.”

    International news

    • Canada / USA – 7 sent back to Canada after using library lawn to enter U.S. from Quebec – CTV News. Library is on the border. “Surveillance videos released by the Border Patrol shows the car drive by the Haskell Free Library and Opera House on July 4, nearly hitting a car as it turns onto a street in the Vermont community.” … “The Haskell Free Library was deliberately built straddling the border in the early 20th century so people from both countries can use it”
    • Denmark – Copenhagen: How can a library be a social inclusion place against racism? – Biblio Project. “The Human Library – or “Menneskebiblioteket” as it is called in Danish – was created in Copenhagen in the spring of 2000 “
    • Kenya/Tanzania – Why our public library facilities and services need improving – The Citizen. ” I will compare my experience of the Kenya National Library Services with that of Tanzania, based on cost of the service, facilities and use of technology. ” … “The state of the toilets at the main library in Dar es Salaam is shocking. There is no running water, the hand-washing sinks are blocked”
    • USA – Right-Wingers Are Taking Over Library Boards to Remove Books on Racism – Truthout. “Some locales are making opposition to critical race theory — either through books or community lectures and discussions — their core focus, but other locations are adding virulent opposition to comprehensive sex education and LGBTQIA+ acceptance in a trio of concerns. ”
      • Goodbye, ALA – April Hatchcock.” I’m more convinced than ever that ALA has always been and will always be centered on promoting the “neutrality” of white supremacy and capitalism. Despite the endless working groups and task forces aimed at the contrary, there is no interest in changing the organization. “
      • How and Why to Team up with your local librarian – America Walks. “Working with public librarians, these disparate institutions convene downtown walking tours, install art installations along walking trails, take kids on birding trips along rails-to-trails corridors, enhance the walkability of communities by installing amenities like community gardens, and even build new libraries that are more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. “

    Local news by authority

    • Staffordshire – New libraries & arts project in Staffordshire to help bring communities together – Signal 1. “The project will support local artists and makers to take up residence in libraries across the county to help create new connections with communities.”
    • WandsworthBattersea Library is chosen as launch venue for new Government Strategy – GLL (press release). “Battersea Library in South London was invited to host the launch of a new national Media Literacy Strategy today (Wednesday 14th July).  Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture briefed a group of industry experts on the new £340k initiative that is designed to fight online disinformation. ”
    • Wiltshire – Wiltshire children urged to pick up a book as Summer Reading Challenge returns – Greatest Hits Radio. “A few of the changes include: Libraries not being able to listen to the children talk about their books; Core materials being handed out in bags; Families encouraged to visit at the quieter times such as afternoons as there may be queues.”

    The real Heroes


    The Summer Reading Challenge (SRC) officially started last Saturday, 10 July. It’s by far the biggest promotion that public libraries in the UK put on each year, and normally attracts hundreds of thousands of children to come in, take out some books and read. It’s one of the reasons that August is one of the busiest months of the year for libraries and why children’s libraries are as successful as they are. It is also, for me, one of the high points of the year, not least because I can normally (but not this year) embarrass myself in front of hundreds of children in school assemblies. The Reading Agency and the many library services that take part in the SRC are to be congratulated each year for doing so much to encourage children to read.

    And this year no less than before, and probably more. For this year there is very real uncertainty amongst staff both about safety procedures and also about the number of children who will take part. I remember 19 months ago planning what SRC supplies my service needed and being fairly sure to within 5% as to what was needed. The pandemic meant I was wrong by 100%. This year, no-one can be sure to 5%, 15%, possibly even 50%. And this also is indicative of long-term worries over business as well. Will people 100% come back to physical libraries? There’s encouraging signs from Australia that, yes they do, eventually. But for now, in the UK, facing uncertainty both about this Summer and beyond, in terms of safety and usage, the real Heroes may well be the staff as well as the children. Perhaps that was ever the case but this year it’s just more obvious.

    Wishing you all the best everyone, let me know how you’re getting on.

    Changes by local authority

    National news

    • Covid leaves UK councils with £3bn financial black hole – BBC. “In the London borough of Bexley, 264 staff posts will be deleted, while library opening hours and road repairs will be reduced.”
    • Creating Space for Kindness. An experiment with public libraries in Scotland – Carnegie UK. “Small-scale ‘kindness initiatives’, delivered by local libraries can play a role in helping to improve wellbeing. This short report sets out why kindness matters to wellbeing and why it makes sense to consider how libraries can enhance this core aspect of wellbeing in local communities. It does so through describing a set of ‘kindness initiatives’ that were supported by the Carnegie UK Trust and delivered by 10 public libraries in Scotland. The report highlights the value of creating space to talk about kindness and the impact that this can have on individual and community wellbeing.”
    • National Acquisitions Group Award for Excellence – National Acquisitions Group. “
    • NAG makes an annual award designed to promote excellence, original thinking and innovation by a library team or individual within the field of Acquisitions. For 2020 the winner will receive £200 plus £100 as a donation to their nominated charity.  The prize will be paid directly to the individual. ”
    • National Poetry Day to spotlight over 40 books in recommended lists – BookSeller. “Recommended titles will be promoted to over 4,000 reading groups and the UK library network via the Reading Agency”
    • Read, Talk, Share – How the Reading Agency helped libraries tackle loneliness – Libraries. “Read, Talk, Share’ expanded The Reading Agency’s already successful Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes, enabling  public library services to step up to tackle loneliness and support mental health. Together we and our library partners  mobilised to reach those most in need of social connectivity,  overcoming the challenges of delivery in a pandemic, including the closure of library buildings and the difficulties of distance engagements. The flexibility, commitment and support of library staff and management to deliver this has been amazing.”
    • Same, Same But Different prepares for English library tour – Libraries Connected. “The tour will visit 26 libraries and spaces across England from 27 July to 26 August. These will include Stoke, Nottingham, Luton, Birmingham, Black Country, Cheshire, Middlesborough and Reading. The tour will adhere to the most up-to-date government guidelines around Covid-19.”
    • Scottish councils plan to save £141m over next year to pay for covid pandemic response – Daily Record. “It comes as fears grow that public services will suffer as a result with libraries, leisure centres and museums unable to reopen following lockdown.” … “Glasgow Life, an offshoot of the city council, said it had lost £38m due to the closure of venues during the pandemic.”

    International news

    • Australia – The little library that has a 20 per cent chance of winning best in world – Sydney Morning Herald. “At Sydney’s Marrickville Library, you can get pizza delivered to your lounge chair or secret nook. Even better, you can eat it there or in the sunken garden while using the wifi.” … “Another finalist, the new Deichman Bjørvika in Oslo Norway, includes a secret and hidden library for the future. The six-storey building has a gaming zone, secret rooms for children and views of the fjord. As well as borrowing from the collection of 450,000 books, locals can learn to sew or play the piano.”
    • USA – Bloomington PD in spotlight over tweet about ‘thefts’ from Little Free Libraries – Bring Me The News. “The tweet, posted on Friday, sparked hundreds of responses, most of which point out that the whole idea behind Little Free Libraries is that the books are free, calling into question the notion of “thefts.” Hilarious.
      • Episode 6: The Post-Pandemic Workplace – Apples Podcast / Libraries Lead in the New Normal. “As the information infrastructure and services providers of communities, are there new, more permanent needs and demands to meet for businesses, workers, parents, and students? And, what about the library workforce? Will librarians and support staff also work in hybrid formats?”

    Local news by authority

    Long Covid


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

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

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

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

    Changes by local authority

    National news

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

    International news

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

    Local news by authority

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

    “Not enough”


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

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

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

    What is IFLA?

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

    What is your new role within IFLA?

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

    How does IFLA impact UK public libraries?

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

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

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

    How can anyone interested get involved in IFLA?

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

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

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

    Governor Ayub

    Changes by local authority

    National news

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

    International news

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

    Local news by authority

    Some more on the SDP


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

    Changes by local authority

    Some more on the Single Digital Presence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    National news

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

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

    International news

    Local news by authority

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

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

    Eddie McGuire, via email

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


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

    Changes by local authority

    National news

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

    International news

    Local news by authority

    Essex, St Helens, Northants and the National Literacy Trust


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

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

    Changes by local authority

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

    Fiona wants a word

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

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

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

    How important do you think reading is for children? 

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

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

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

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

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

    How can public librarians get involved in the Review? 

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

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

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

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

    National news

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

    International news

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

    Local news by authority