Dependent on volunteers


A few of the items this week show how dependent some public library services are on volunteers. North Yorkshire says “acknowledges that without the support of more than 2,000 volunteers and others the service as it exists today would not be possible.”, Oxfordshire open a new branch but say that they will need volunteers to actually run it, and Staffordshire report that they have 1,000 volunteers doing the work that would otherwise keep staff employed to the tune of £1.4m. When library services depend on the unpaid in their thousands to do the work it’s clear to see how things have changed since 2010 when less than ten branches nationwide relied on such generosity.

It’s therefore a suitable week to see that the Community Libraries Network have a new website instead of their blog site they had to do with previously. The site has some useful resources, including on crowdfunding and paying for leases, for volunteer libraries who are facing the hard tough world. The network itself, supported by Upper Norwood Library Trust, Libraries Connected, Locality, the Libraries Taskforce and funding from Power to Change, is looking to rely on member subscriptions, presumably from volunteers already working for free. We will see how that goes.

Changes by local authority

Hi VIS Fortnight 1-14 June 2020 : celebrating the word in all its formats

“Following feedback from partners, we are changing the name of ‘Make A Noise in Libraries’ Fortnight to ‘Hi VIS’ – The emphasis of this initiative has shifted over the years, from being originally forged largely as a campaigning vehicle, to something that latterly has predominantly sought to highlight the excellent work that is going on in libraries, for visually and print impaired people. We thought that the title should change to reflect this shift, and ‘Hi VIS’ seemed to be a good fit.”

The core aim of the Fortnight is still to raise the profile of the various services and activities that exist re. accessible libraries and reading – to highlight and celebrate them; and to connect visually and print impaired people with libraries, reading and other readers.

With developments such as the BBC’s Novels That Shaped The World and the theme for this year’s Libraries Week, there is a welcome (re-)emphasis on books and reading in 2020, and we are looking to build on this. The provision and availability of alternative and accessible formats is critical to visually and print impaired people being able to access reading and literature, and the general theme of this year’s Fortnight will be celebrating the word in all its forms and formats

We would like, during Hi VIS Fortnight, for libraries across the UK to highlight and celebrate all that you do to help people access and connect to the reading services and formats that best suit them, and to engage with reading and related activities

Share the Vision are specifically hoping that Libraries will:

· Promote accessible reading formats and services (their own and other organisation’s); and related local activities;

· Organise their own events, ideally (but not necessarily) building on this year’s theme; and

· Actively post on social media about these services, activities and event

Actions and available resources

· As in previous years, Share the Vision are in the process of producing some promotional materials and will share these nearer to the time. · Resources will be available via Reading Sight ( ).

· RNIB are going to be leading on the social media side of things – establishing the hashtag #HiVIS2020 on Twitter, and we would like all involved to use this to help spread the word.

· Alerts will be sent out to Six Steps Champions across the UK, and Heads of Service will be made aware through Libraries Connected.

Ideas for activities

· Promote the accessible stock that you have – spoken work/talking books, Braille, tactile, e-book/audio/magazine collections

· Highlight ‘Novels That Shaped The World’ in alternative formats

· Feature accessible libraries, such as Calibre, Clearvision, RNIB Library – making local staff and volunteers aware of the wider provision that is available

· Run or raise awareness of an accessible book group

· Invite local ‘sight loss’ or disability groups and partner organisations to visit the library to discuss and demonstrate all that you offer/could offer

· Offer accessible or sensory activity sessions – maybe poetry, or craft or singing… using/celebrating words in different ways

· Deliver an ICT/digital session introducing people to online/e-services and/or new equipment that makes reading and information more accessible

Visit for more information

Join in and engage on Twitter – @readingsight / #HiVIS2020

Mark McCree, Chair, Share The Vision

National news

  • 2019 sees rapid increase in libraries dropping fines – BookSeller. “The number of libraries dropping penalty fines for the late return of books has more than quadrupled in the past year, with those that have changed their policy citing an uptick in membership as a result. Only a couple of libraries had a fines-free policy in the UK before 2018 (Rutland and Shetland), according to Public Libraries News, on top of which Trafford and Portsmouth similarly updated their policy in 2018. However in the past year, eight libraries followed suit in instigating the step-change (Halton, Kirklees, Blackpool, Bridgend, Bath and North East Somerset, Oldham, eeds and Borders) Blackburn’s Darwen  Library [sic – it’s actually Blackburn With Darwen library service – Ed.] has followed suit in 2020″

“For me it was all about making sure we were a relevant, modern and inclusive service. From working with schools and various consultations we had done over the years, we knew that fines were a deterrent for people, especially families, using our libraries… There were some worries expressed that people would take advantage and not return books, but that hasn’t happened. Our rate of non-returned books has not increased in the time since we abolished fines. “In addition, we have had many instances of people telling us they are now using the libraries because we no longer charge fines.”

Sarah Curran of Trafford Libraries

International news

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is improvement in the overall atmosphere and tone”

Jennifer Hoffman, Denver Public Libraries manager of books on borrowing on impact of removal on fines one year ago.
  • Workers at Cleveland Public Library cast near-unanimous vote to authorize strike action – World Socialist Web Site. “On January 8, roughly 400 librarians, assistants and custodians at the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) cast “an overwhelming, and nearly unanimous vote” to authorize a strike, according to a statement sent out by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199. ” .. “. A central focus in SEIU’s statements is the proposed 1.5 percent raise for library workers—many of whom are still impacted by a five-year wage freeze implemented in 2009, failure to adequately increase staffing and concerns over library security.”

Local news by authority

“We will need volunteers to help run the library and the Community Association is very supportive in this.”

Library manager Stephanie Tee on new Barton Library

Bad omen? Major cuts in Hampshire


So the first battle announced in the ongoing war on public libraries is in Hampshire, with 10 out of 48 are under threat plus threats to opening hours and to the pre-existing volunteer libraries there. Local authors and residents have been quick to protest while the local, mainly Conservative, politicians acquiesce and the council itself blames central government while at the same time trying to blackmail locals into becoming volunteers. The critical thing now is if a strong group of local campaigners coalesce, as they did in Essex, or if the public let inaction decide for them.

It was also sad to see Stockport use a windfall from Greater Manchester to no improve its libraries but to pay for staffing cuts by introducing Open+. While the technology itself is not necessarilyy a bad thing, using the technology to pay for staffing cuts normally is. It was also a bit of a bang-the-head-on-the-desk moment to read that the local council is saying it’s looking for a different name than “library” for its, um, library service. “Library” is a brand-name known everywhere, councillors. Own it, don’t disown it. So not the best of starts for 2020 proper. Let’s hope it’s not a bad omen for the rest of the year.

Local news by authority


National news

  • Audiobooks: The rise and rise of the books you don’t read – BBC. “Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast.”
  • Building Confidence in Digital Resources – Niche Academy. Friday Jan 17 at 1:30 pm GMT. “In this free 45-minute webinar Jared Oates, COO of Niche Academy, will explain the features and benefits of Niche Academy’s online training tutorials including how to make best use of video training and how to build your confidence answering enquiries about digital resources. “
  • Public Libraries Forum May 2020 – Call for papers – National Acquisitions Group. “The next NAG public libraries forum will be held on 15th May 2020 at Friends House in London.  We hope this convenient venue close to Euston will encourage attendees from around the UK to attend for another informative and useful day with strong networking opportunities …”

International news

  • Morocco – World’s oldest library reopens in Fez: ‘You can hurt us, but you can’t hurt the books’ – Guardian. “This, it is widely believed, is the oldest library in the world – and soon it will be open to the general public again.” … “In 2012, the ministry of culture, which manages the Qarawiyyin library and university, asked Chaouni to assess the library, and she was pleasantly surprised when her architecture firm was awarded the contract, in a field traditionally seen as a man’s province.”
  • USA / Global – Public Libraries Reach Record-High Ebook and Audiobook Usage in 2019 – Rakuten Overdrive. “Due to their creative efforts in curation, managing multiple lending models and engaging patrons, librarians helped drive public library circulation of digital books to record highs in 2019. Libraries and schools around the world enabled their patrons and students to check out 326 million ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines in the past 12 months, a 20% increase over the previous year. “
    • County, city libraries eliminate all fines in joint effort for equity – Call Newspapers. “St. Louis’ two largest library systems are going fine-free starting this month with a “New Year, No Fines” initiative. St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library announced Tuesday they will no longer charge fines on late materials beginning in the new year.”

“We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and increase access to library materials and services. Removing overdue fees helps make the library’s resources more accessible and supports literacy efforts for our entire community.”

County library Director Kristen Sorth

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Ian Rankin thriller at top of Aberdeen library list – Evening Express. “Ian Rankin’s detective tale In A House Of Lies was the book most borrowed from Aberdeen’s 18 libraries, according to new figures provided to The Evening Express by Aberdeen City Council. But the undisputed most popular author in the north-east is children’s writer Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series.”
  • AberdeenshireAberdeenshire Council seeking views on library services – Buchan Observer. “As part of the Aberdeenshire Council’s budget-setting process, savings were identified for the library service and the possibility of the closure of some facilities in smaller villages was outlined. Since then, Live Life Aberdeenshire has been working hard to look at alternative ways of achieving savings by taking a broader view of how library services are provided.”
  • Bolton – Secretary visits Bolton library and praises collection – Bolton News. Baroness Nicky Morgan: “The former MP tweeted: “Wonderful to visit @BoltonLMS this afternoon – they have an amazing collection of national & local treasures. “It is vital that we support our local museums & libraries up & down the county they offer such a sense of place & civic pride bringing local communities together.”
  • Cumbria – Our changing libraries now host story telling, the internet and coffee mornings – North West Evening Mail. “Completion of £1.2m building project will be next stage in letting Barrow’s main books base adapt to the needs of a modern world “
  • Essex – Manningtree library campaigners win award for action – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Manningtree Town Council has now decided to recognise the campaign group’s remarkable efforts by honouring members with the Community Engagement Award. Holly Turner, from Save Manningtree Library, said: “I’m delighted that the Save Manningtree Library group have been recognised and rewarded for all of their hard work and tireless campaigning. “
    • Days of action to save Essex library staff – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “. Campaigner says “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “
  • Glasgow – Attendance figures in decline across Glasgow’s public libraries – Glasgow Live. “A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that 2015 saw 5,076,771 visits to the local library compared to 4,780,031 in 2019. This was however, a three per cent increase from the year before which saw 4,633,288 library visits with 5,088,418 and 5,045,552 visits in 2017 and 2016 respectively.”
  • Hackney – Hackney Council takes on single-use plastics with new water fountains at leisure centres and libraries – Hackney Gazette. “Mayor Phil Glanville and environment and waste chief Cllr Jon Burke opened one of the fountains at London Fields Lido this week. The others are at Clapton Library, Homerton Library, Shoreditch Library, Clissold Leisure Centre and Hackney Marshes Centre. These join those installed last year at CLR James Library, Mabley Green, and Hackney Marshes Pavilion, with the equivalent of 7,500 plastic bottles saved by the fountain at the CLR James Library alone since it was installed in July.”
  • Hampshire – Council to reveal proposed cuts to Hampshire library service – Advertiser and Times. “Plans for the future of Hampshire libraries – which could include proposals for closures and reductions in opening hours – will be revealed this week. A 10-week public consultation over a county-wide restructure of the service will be launched at midday on Thursday.”
    • Gaiman, Sparkes and Rowson sign letter against Hampshire library closures – BookSeller. “Scores of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Ali Sparkes, Pauline Rowson and Philip Hoare, have signed an open letter to Hampshire County Council calling for it to ditch its “shameful” proposal to close 10 libraries.”
    • Library closure plans see angry reaction from residents – Basingstoke Gazette. “A number of Basingstoke residents got involved in the debate on social media, including Stefan Powell, who said: “This sucks!” Another, Sarah Newman, said: “This is sad and such a shame when it is so important to get children into reading and it is not always easy for people to go and buy books hence why libraries are so important. “
    • Maria Miller and local councillors respond to plans that could see libraries close – Basingstoke Gazette. “Speaking to the Gazette on Friday, Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, said that it was “right” that Hampshire County Council were looking into the proposals.” … “Meanwhile, Laura Edwards, who is a ward councillor in Chineham, said she understands the need said she was “disappointed”. “I’m a big fan of Chineham library, I went there when I was little,” Cllr Edwards said. “I appreciate the need for it, but it is a very disappointing decision. “
    • Neil Gaiman leads Hampshire writers protesting library cuts – Guardian. “Local authors including Neil Gaiman – who grew up in Hampshire and has a road named after him in Portsmouth – Philip Hoare, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ali Sparkes and Claire Fuller wrote to the council on Friday to “reverse this shameful decision”. The writers described the two options in the public consultation as disastrous for Hampshire’s communities”

“An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both.”

Neil Gaiman and others in open letter
  • Ten Hampshire libraries face axe – Southern Daily Echo. “The number of libraries across the county could drop from 48 to 38 and the remaining ones could see a 15% reduction in their opening hours as Hampshire County Council is aiming to save £1.76m by 2021. “

“If the community does not wish to transition to a new delivery model then it is possible that these libraries may close” … “If the government were making no reduction in terms of public funding to councils then we wouldn’t have to make decisions that are as difficult as those that we have to make. We would be reviewing the service anyway but we probably wouldn’t be looking at the possibility of closing ten libraries”

Hampshire Council
  • Ten Hampshire libraries earmarked for closure – BBC. “Recreation councillor Sean Woodward said: “We’ve seen in the last 10 years something like two million fewer books being issued per year so it’s a huge change but we want to make sure that the libraries which are open are thriving, well run, well attended and well used by our residents.””
  • Hillingdon – Bookworms Online started by Hillingdon Libraries – Hillingdon and Uxbridge Times. “The monthly virtual book club will encourage residents to borrow or download books in advance of the scheduled social media discussion, which will take place on Twitter from 6- 7pm on the third Thursday of each month. “
  • Lancashire – Literary lovers asked to have some pun and name Lancashire’s new mobile libraries – Lancashire Post. “People are being asked to choose from a shortlist of 11, with the top three names set to adorn the first three vehicles. Everyone has until 5pm on Friday 17 January to get involved, with the winning names due to be announced the following week. The list of names are available at, then follow the link to vote.”
    • Staff Transferred From County To City In Harris Shake-Up – Preston Hub. “The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library have welcomed Harris library staff who have transferred over from Lancashire County Council to Preston City Council to create one Harris team. The Harris is managed by Preston City Council working in partnership with Lancashire County Council and is in a transformative point in its history to create the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library. Bringing the museum and library together as a single service will help the Harris to move forward with its unique and exciting vision to reimagine the Harris and ensure the Grade 1 listed building remains a cultural, civic and community hub for the city and county.”
  • Leicester – Library fines waived during January amnesty – Leicester Council. “The amnesty on fines applies to all and any Leicester library books – no matter how long you might have had them. Historical charges which may be listed against books you have already returned will also be wiped. The initiative is part of the council’s anti-poverty work, and is aimed at ensuring everyone has the opportunity to access to free library services in Leicester. It is one of a number of ways in which the city council is working to reduce the impact of poverty, improve lives and help children to reach their full potential.”
    • Vote for your favourite book of the decade with Leicester libraries – Leicester City Council. “Throughout the month of January, anyone aged 12 and over can vote for up to three titles of any genre. You can vote for any adult or junior book, either fiction or non-fiction – they just need to have been published between 2010 and 2019.”
  • Manchester – Crumpsall is getting a new multi-million pound library and leisure centre – this is how it will look – Manchester Evening News. “Coun Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said: “The majority of the city’s leisure centres and libraries have undergone major transformation over the last decade to ensure we can offer our residents modern, attractive facilities that are a real asset to their local community.”
  • North Yorkshire – Scarborough and Filey libraries host 64 Million Artists challenge – North Yorkshire County Council. “Each day in January the libraries will set a creative challenge, which will take only five to ten minutes. These range from creative writing to drawing, reading, crafting, poetry and music.”
    • Dogs drop in to library to lend an ear to young readers – North Yorkshire County Council. “Read2Dogs sessions are to be launched at Selby library to help children improve their confidence as readers by sharing books with Dora and Morgan, two Pets as Therapy dogs that will visit the library with their owners, Rachael and Tony Wilson, of Selby.”
  • Northamptonshire – Wollaston library volunteers ready to lend a hand – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “More than 20 members of the community have volunteered to staff the service after Northamptonshire County Council’s decision to close 17 libraries unless groups stepped-in. “

“It’s good that we have been given the opportunity to run it but it should never have happened. “

Soon to be library volunteer

Public libraries in 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes by local authority

National news

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

Kerry Hudson

International news

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

Changes by local authority

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

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

Liz Miles, library campaigner, via emial.

A record-breaking honours list for librarians?

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

Changes by local authority

New Year’s Honours

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

National news

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

Looking forward to 2024


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

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

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

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

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

Local news by authority

National news

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Changes by local authority

Cipfa reaction

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

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

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

National news

International news

Local news by authority

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

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

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

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


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

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


National news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International news

Local news by authority

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes by authority

Party Manifestos

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

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

Labour Party Manifesto 2019

“£250 million to support local libraries and museums ”

Conservative Party Manifesto 2019

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

Liberal Democratic Party Manifesto 2019

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

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

Green Party Manifesto 2019

National news

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

International news

Local news by authority

Consultation in Bradford and transfer delay in Hertfordshire


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

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

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

Changes by local authority

National news

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

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

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


International news

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

Local news by authority

Three national campaigns


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

Changes by authority


National news

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

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

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

International news

Local news by authority

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

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

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

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

Swindon – Usage statistics, sent in via Shirley Burnham.

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