You’ll miss it if it goes

CILIP had a busy week last week. It launched the “Public Libraries: The Case for Support” document in partnership with The Big Issue in parliament. It’s full of good stuff. It is also working with Libraries Connected on a new accreditation framework. It also helped out on some good work on school libraries last week as well as helping to lobby for more money from government, which cannot have hurt the £250 million partly for libraries announced the week before.

It’s not perfect though. The professional association also had its AGM last week, where the member proposal “that CILIP undertake a full review of their “Employer Partner” scheme in light of ethical concerns raised by members, including consultation with members over the design of the scheme, and how employer partners are selected and approved.” was passed. This tied in with unhappiness about CILIP accepting GLL, currently in dispute with library workers in Bromley, as a partner.

My view is that while CILIP may not please everyone – and I suspect nothing realistic would appreciate a number of those who criticise it, especially on social media from what I have seen – but it is the only professional association that librarians have so one should support it for the good things it does, and genuinely help to improve it where it needs improving. There are so few public library CILIP members left (just 12% of its total in January 2019) that it’s amazing that it does so much in the sector. Criticising it is easy, and in some cases necessary, but I can’t help but thinking that we’re all going to miss if it ever goes and we discover that we’re left with, basically, no other organisation ultimately independent of government or unions arguing the cause of the sector.

Otherwise, it’s been a generally normal week, with the normal mix of good and bad (nasty for Hampshire though) with only the absurd claim by York – that moving numerous other organisations into libraries would “turbocharge” them – standing out. This disconnect with library reality is normally indicative of a council that’s having financial difficulty and is trying to put a brave face on it but, if so, this is some of the most extreme propaganda for cuts in a library I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Advocating for our profession – CILIP. Lists, well, what CILIP is doing to advocate for librarians.
  • Author Jojo Moyes Is Giving Away Mini Libraries and Copies of Her New Novel The Giver of Stars – People. “”Libraries are one of the few resources where people can be sheltered, educated and entertained without having to pay, and it pains me that they are under such threat” … ““I was built in a library. My parents didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so the weekly visit to the local library was a key part of my education, and my love of reading,” “
  • BBC winds down its in-house VR production team – Yahoo News. “For the next year, the British public will also have the chance to experience the broadcaster’s work thanks to a cross-country tour of the UK’s public libraries. However, with only one last production in the pipeline, it’s safe to say the BBC is ready to move on.”
  • Inside Britain’s best libraries – Spectator. Includes only one public library, the Library of Birmingham. “I’d be happy to pay 90 per cent tax just to clear these noisy little people out of libraries on week days, so I can have peace to write ironically about a cold society full of indifferent adults that no longer cares about them. Obviously, I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek. But I can’t lie and say that, while trying to get some work done in my local library, the thought of banning anyone who makes a noise did cross my mind.”
  • It’s great to see bodies in libraries once again, but only if they keep it quiet – Daily Record.
  • Libraries Connected to consult on new accreditation framework for libraries – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected has secured a grant of £128,456 from Arts Council England and will work closely with them and CILIP to develop the new framework. This is part of an overall programme of sector development outlined in the recent libraries blueprint report. Delivered collaboratively by Libraries Connected, CILIP and the Arts Council, this programme includes joint projects to update the Public Libraries Skills Strategy and to help drive diversity in library leadership.”
  • MPs and Peers call for a national ‘Public Library Improvement Fund’ to build stronger, smarter communities – Politics. “The Libraries APPG is calling for long-term sustainable funding in public libraries, asking Parliamentarians to invest £50 million per year, creating more opportunities for communities accross the UK. “

“Libraries are evolving and innovating, but to do so they need sustainable long-term financial support to maintain their premises, update their digital infrastructure and retain professional staff. That is why, through the Libraries APPG, we are calling on fellow Parliamentarians to support proposals for a new investment of up to £50m per year over the lifetime of the next Parliament to create a national Public Library Improvement Fund – ensuring that the library renaissance reaches every community across the UK. We are excited about the possibilities that our new public libraries can offer for communities everywhere.”

Gill Furness MP
  • Report: Public Libraries, The Case for Support – Libraries Deliver. “At a Parliamentary event at the House of Lords today, The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull will join forces with CILIP, the UK library association, to make the case for long-term sustainable funding for libraries. The event, which will be attended by Members of Parliament, Member of the House of Lords and senior Civil Servants, will focus on the launch of two new campaign documents:
    • A new joint CILIP/The Big Issue report Public Libraries: The Case for Support, which brings together for the first time the best currently-available evidence of the positive impact of libraries on their users, communities, locality and local economy, alongside stories from library users about their experiences and;
    • A new 10-point Manifesto for Libraries, produced by Library Champion Bobby Seagull and CILIP, setting out the call for Government to recognise the wider value of libraries and librarians in areas such as health, education, business and policymaking.
  • Public Libraries – our new report shows urgent need to boost funding – Big Issue. “Let us count some of the ways libraries enrich our lives: Libraries are places of learning. They offer a quiet, safe space of study when home is too crowded or chaotic. Libraries are an intellectual hub at the heart of thriving communities and provide respite from social isolation. Libraries also offer internet access for those who are not online at home, they help entrepreneurs and students and connect people from marginalised communities. This much we know. But when Lord John Bird and Gill Furniss MP (former librarian and now head of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries) met with the government to ask for more support for libraries in the UK, they were met with a demand: show us the data”
  • A sticking plaster policy – ArtsProfessional. “with local authority funding for culture now more than £236m lower than in 2010, and museums alone having lost £109m in annual funding over the past decade, the Government’s promise of £250m for culture over the next five years will at best put a sticking plaster on a patient with a life-threatening injury. The fact that the promise has been made by an impotent government – one that looks unlikely to get this week’s Queen’s Speech through parliament and could easily be out of office by Christmas – makes it laughable.” … “. In reality, this supposed windfall is nothing more than blatant spin and shameless electioneering … ACE may well imagine it is in charge of the arts, and a supplicant sector allows it to persist with that illusion. But the reality is that ACE is simply a hand servant doing the Government’s bidding.”

“All this announcement means is that a small amount of the funding that has been taken away since 2010 will go back into the cultural sector. Most of it, though, isn’t ‘new’ money all. Grants to a forthcoming City of Culture have been the norm since the designation began, and the Cultural Development Fund, which awarded £20m for 2019/20, is actually going to be worth less than £20m a year over the next five years under the renewed scheme.”

  • With libraries closing, where can pupils study quietly? – TES. “”Imagine my alarm when I asked a class of students how many were members of a local library and only a few raised their hands. There was one student who did not even know that he could borrow books at the library free of charge. I hope that he is the exception. Many students also said that their local library had closed, and they didn’t know where their nearest one was now. “

International news

“Where Did You Get That Book?” – In Conversation with Tim Coates – EveryLibrary Institute from EveryLibrary on Vimeo.

  • 50 Fictional Librarians, Ranked – Lit Hub.
    • Safety in Libraries: a Continuum – Intellectual Freedom Hub. “I’ve had many discussions with librarians about what it means when we talk about safety in the library. I’d like to offer an approach I’ll call the continuum of safety, offered from the perspective of the patron, the person who uses the library but is not a member of the staff. My goal is to establish a framework for the supervision of public space, in keeping with the values of the profession. In future blogs, I’ll try to dig into this a little deeper.”
    • “The People Who Helped Me the Most Were the Librarians” — Rep. Elijah Cummings – School Library Journal. “”The people who helped me the most were the librarians,” Cummings told Steve Kroft in a 60 Minutes interview broadcast in January of this year, adding that the public library was the only integrated institution in his neighborhood.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Letter: Council ‘short-sighted’ – Keighley News. “It’s ironic that this month as part of Libraries Week Keighley Library is celebrating the life of its founder, Andrew Carnegie, and his wife Louise (whose idea it was!), whilst at the same time Bradford Council is pressing ahead with its plans to cut the budget to libraries, museums and galleries by 65 per cent – without proper public consultation. “
    • Loss of library would ‘degrade Keighley in eyes of the world’ – Telegraph and Argus. “The image of Keighley would be “degraded in the eyes of the world” if its library were to shut – a Councillor has claimed. Councillor Rebecca Poulsen (Cons, Worth Valley) was referring to concerns that the town’s library might face the chop under planned £1.05 million cuts to Bradford’s Museum and Library service. “
  • Bristol – Bristol library closures fear as five-year ‘vision’ for the city revealed – Bristol Live. “Bristol citizens have expressed their fears for the future of the city’s libraries after the council released its “vision” for the service over the next five years. The one-page document summarising Bristol City Council’s draft library strategy to 2024 was revealed in a 38-page report last week. It refers to “hubs for community development”, “volunteering opportunities”, “extending the availability of the building outside normal hours” and improving “library environments to improve cultural and social inclusion”. … “Kate Murray, the council’s head of libraries, defended the lack of detail in the strategy saying it sets out a “broad direction of travel” and any changes affecting specific libraries would be subject to public consultation.”
  • BuckinghamshireGovernment minister visits Bucks library – Mix 96. “Lord Gardiner of Kimble is a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity. He visited Beacon Villages Community Library, in Ivinghoe, to see a great example of how a library can provide a valuable community resource in a more rural setting. The Library, run by a committee of dedicated trustees, is on the ground floor of Ivinghoe’s medieval Town Hall, which also houses the village post office.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Start-up day success for small businesses at Cambridge Central Library – Cambridge Independent. “The annual UK-wide event, led by the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and supported by Santander UK, invites Cambridgeshire & Peterborough residents to visit their central libraries in Cambridge and Peterborough and take the first steps towards turning their brilliant idea into a successful enterprise. New figures recently released by the British Library reveal that its 13-strong national network of library-based Business & IP Centres has helped create an average of 15 new businesses every working day since 2016. ”
  • Devon – Busy start to the month at Holsworthy Library – Post. ““The library was buzzing as people took part in the activities; family history research with Meg and Stephanie from Holsworthy Museum, making a model plane with Wilf from the Men’s Shed, drawing classes with Dawn from the Art Sanctuary and rag rugging with Pam.”
  • East SussexHastings community group given go-ahead to re-open library – Hastings Observer. “East Sussex County Council’s lead member for resources, Cllr Nick Bennett, has approved a proposal to lease the Ore Library building to Ore Community Library Group. The newly-formed group will take on a three-year peppercorn lease for the building, its fixtures and fittings and a selection of stock and run the facility as a Community Library”
  • Essex – Kid’s parties could be held in Essex libraries to boost usage – Gazette Standard. “Essex County Council is set to trial hosting the events at four locations across the county; Witham, Walton, Basildon and Great Parndon. If this trial is successful the scheme could be rolled out to facilities across Essex in the near future. Four party themes have been developed – a rhyme party, an interactive story party, a pirate party and enchanted forest event. ” … “”Officers are not aware of any authorities in England offering any of their libraries as a birthday party venue currently but is aware of one in Scotland and one in New Zealand. “
    • New library set to get stamp of approval – Echo series. Wickford: “he ambitious bid to demolish the current library and community centre will be voted on next week, with councillors considering whether a five storey replacement is suitable, consisting of a host of flats, a new library, and a “flexible” ground floor unit – set to become a shop. ” … “Mr Buckley insisted that Wickford was never in the library closure debate because it has always been popular and has a high “book check out rate”.”
  • Gloucestershire – Scenes from poetry book recreated at library – Stroud News and Journal. Library prepared for visit by Joseph Coelho: “It meant he had to walk through scenes as they are depicted in his own book from January to August – which he described on social media at the time as a ‘delightful surprise and a brilliant display’. They included starlings hanging from the ceiling, a pond filled with frogs, a wobbly display of jellyfish and even a balcony scene complete with rain, that were put together by volunteers, customers and staff. “
  • Hampshire – Council plots budget saving through library services – Hampshire Chronicle. ““A significant part of the savings proposals relates to library services, amounting to £1.7m. This represents 16 per cent of the overall budget for the service, but still means that a budget of around £10 million would remain for library services. ” … “Further to ratification by Cabinet and Full Council, some proposals will then be subject to further, more detailed consultation. “
  • HertfordshireLonger opening hours at Berkhamsted Library – Hemel Today. 27 hours longer opening due to staffless technology. “Users will need to register at Berkhamsted Library for Open+, after which they can use their library card as a swipe-card to gain access to the library. There is CCTV to keep customers safe, while the integrated IT system manages the lighting, building controls, public IT access, self-service kiosks and security. Once users exit the system automatically shuts down and the building is made secure.”
  • Lambeth – Highlights of half term events in Lambeth’s libraries, Oct/Nov 2019 – Brixton Buzz.
  • Leicester – Highfields library to close for refurbishment – Leicester City Council. “More than £190,000 of improvements will be made at Highfields Library, in Melbourne Road, which is being refurbished as part of the city council’s Transforming Neighbourhood Services programme. Improvements will include full redecoration of the library, installation of accessible public toilets and upgraded computer provision. There will also be new lighting and flooring, plus a re-arranging of the existing space to provide an improved area for activities and events.”
  • Liverpool – How I got Adele, Jessie J, Plan B and Clean Bandit to perform at their local libraries – Liverpool Echo. “Stewart [Parsons] eventually launched Get It Loud In Libraries – a project designed to give people who love music the chance to see artists in their local library for a fraction of the cost of a regular gig. He has managed to secure some huge names – some before they became famous, such as chart queen Adele, who performed at Lancaster library when she was 16.”
    • Tories’ ‘cynical’ cash for culture slammed by libraries boss – Echo. “Cllr Burns said the figure is a “drop in the ocean” compared to what the government has cut in council funding since 2010 and called on Whitehall to “properly commit” to the nation’s libraries. “This announcement is a cynical pre-election ploy by the government,” Cllr Burns said. “The figure announced is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of funding this same government has taken from the people of St Helens and local government nationally since 2010.”
  • Northern Ireland Book Week NI: Delivering library books on Rathlin Island – BBC. Video. “Rathlin Island has a population of about 150 people, half of whom use a mobile library service. Books are delivered by William Galloway from NI Libraries, who travels to the island off Northern Ireland’s north coast once a month. With no permanent library or bookshop on the island, the service provides a lifeline for bookworms.”
  • Powys – Powys libraries survey: children are asked for their views – Powys County Times. “Children and young people under 16 years of age, who use a Powys library during this coming week, Monday, October 14 – Saturday, October 20, will be invited to give their views on various aspects of the service as part of an all Wales survey. All libraries across Wales run the survey during the same week. The aim is to capture and compare the views given by children and young people over time to see how attitudes and views towards the service are changing and what needs to be done to improve their experience.”
  • Brecon museum and library complex Y Gaer to open in December – BBC. “Brecon’s new £14m museum and library complex will open on 5 December, Powys County Council has announced. Delays completing Y Gaer – The Fortress in Welsh – meant opening dates last year and this March were missed. Council bosses said they were confident residents would see the attraction centred on the Grade II-listed Shire Hall was “well worth waiting for”. Partners are being sought to help run the complex, prompting concern from opposition groups about public access.”
  • Richmond – Watching porn and racist abuse among the reasons people banned from libraries and leisure centres – Your Local Guardian. “In a Freedom of Information request sent by the Local Democracy Reporting Service it was revealed that 10 people have been banned from the borough’s libraries since 2015, while two have been banned from leisure centres in the same period. “
  • St HelensGiant regional book club coming to St Helens – St Helens Reporter. “The Great North West Read (GNWR) transforms the region into one massive, interactive book club — and this year’s chosen read is Phaedra Patrick’s charming novel, The Library of Lost and Found.”
  • Slough – #uklibchat – Virtual Tour of The Curve, Slough – UK Lib Chat. “We are trying something a bit different for our next chat! #uklibchat team member Gaby Koenig will be giving a virtual tour of her workplace, The Curve, SloughJoin us on Tueday 29th Octobert from 7pm GMT for the live stream
  • StockportLibrary of Lost & Found north west read 2019 – Marketing Stockport. “A giant book club is about to take over the North West…and you’re invited to join in a wonderful opportunity to bring readers in the North West together through online and in-person book discussions. Now it its second year, the GNWR’s goal is to be the North West’s largest community read and is supported by public libraries from Cheshire to Cumbria. “
  • Walsall – Libraries in Walsall set to close on Sundays because not many people use them – Birmingham Live. “Disappointed council bosses said Sunday community library users were significantly lower than anticipated and are now expected to shut on Sundays to save £40,000” … “A report to cabinet said: “Take-up of the service on Sundays has been lower than expected, with an average of 58 visits per library compared to 269 on other days, and 190 book issues compared to 715.”
  • Warrington – “Library of the future” – built in Lego – Warrington Worldwide. “The model was created by a team of eight members of the Lego Club run by the Friends of Padgate Library, based at the library on Insall Road. Child and adult Lego-enthusiasts worked together to produce the winning design, beating entries from around the country. The Friends of Padgate Library is a volunteer group that was set up 18 months ago to support Padgate Library, working alongside LiveWire’s library staff and Warrington Borough Council on the long-term sustainability of the library.”
  • West Sussex Plans to reduce Worthing library’s opening times – Worthing Herald. “Plans to reduce opening hours at some West Sussex libraries and cut the mobile library service completely have been put out to public consultation. As part of its efforts to save £75.5m over the next four year, the council plans to close Crawley, Chichester, Horsham and Worthing libraries from 6pm rather than the current 7pm from April 2020. It also plans to drop its Horsham-based mobile library at the same time. The Bognor-based service was taken off the road in June when its pre-MOT inspection showed it would cost more to make the vehicle roadworthy than it was actually worth.”
  • Wiltshire – 100 years of Wiltshire libraries – but still nothing like a good book – This is Wiltshire. Completely just mobile libraries until 1964. “Despite the changes, lots of things have stayed the same. People still come to the library knowing they will have a friendly welcome and is somewhere they can go to speak to staff with the knowledge to help hem. “
  • Wirral – Wirral youngsters to benefit from new books and resources to promote love of reading – Wirral Globe. “More than £400,000 worth of books and resources has been pledged to promote the love of reading for families in Wirral. As part of a three-year partnership with the UK’s largest children’s charity BookTrust, youngsters and families will benefit from new high-quality books distributed through the borough’s schools, libraries and healthcare visits. “
  • York – Plans to ‘turbo-charge’ city libraries and make them best in UK – Press. “nder the plans City of York Council bosses will look at ways to move other services – which could include scout groups, charities and youth clubs – into nine of the city’s libraries. A report for a council meeting next Thursday says: “Identifying potential co-location partners will be critical to the process and development of a future business case for investment.”. Council says of the move to reduce space for libraries: ““These proposals will turbo-charge our city’s libraries, making them the best in the UK. “

Libraries Week

Undoubtedly the big news this week is the £250 million in extra funding announced by the DCMS. This is welcome, although a study shows that this is over five years (therefore actually meaning £50 million per year), with half looking to be pretty much accounted for already (o-ho, now it’s down to £25 million) and the remainder to be shared with museums. Hmm. So that’s down to £12.5 million per year if public libraries are as successful as museums in bidding. Still, nothing to be sneezed at, although that’s less than 2% of the existing total budget each year for libraries in England, so it will not have an earth shattering impact and, just to be more depressing, the average annual decline in library services budget since 2010 has been more than that. I hope the sector succeeds in bidding for its fair share and that it uses it for projects with long-term impact rather flash-in-the-pan-but-looks-good projects one often associates with such things.

Libraries Week saw a lot of good news stories, including a successful Lego competition. The one initiative with the most long-term impact though was Leeds going fines-free and also removing the requirement for ID when joining. The failure of libraries to openly not trust prospective joiners to give their correct names and addresses when they are ask for a library card has been a quiet shame for many services for a while now so one hopes the example of Leeds, along with that of the scores of library services already not requiring ID with no ill effects, will encourage those still with trust issues to have a look at their culture and perhaps stop turning away people from joining quite so much in future. Bath and North East Somerset has also chosen this week to get rid of fines, making the strength of this trend fairly undeniable, with 12 services in the UK subscribing to it compared with 2 just a year or so ago.

Changes by local authority


National news

  • Billy Connolly: a very Scottish story – Herald Scotland. “He hated school but loved libraries. “People often say that football and boxing are the ways out of the working class and they are your ticket out of that kind of life, if you happen to want to leave it,” he says. “But, for me, the library is the key. That is where the escape tunnel is. All the knowledge in the world is there. The great brains of the world are at your fingertips.”
  • Bobby Seagull’s “Manifesto for Libraries” – EveryLibrary. “HM Government has an opportunity to transform lives across the UK by investing in the future of our libraries. That is why I am calling on Ministers, Members of Parliament and representatives in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to get behind my 10-point Manifesto …”
  • Carrickfergus manager is Public Library Champion for 2019 – Carrickfergus Times. “Judges highlighted the importance and variety of the many events and activities Carrickfergus Library hosts on a regular basis. These include a ‘New Mums of under Ones’ group, a walking club, GOT IT computer sessions, a drop-in for teenagers with autism, ‘Beginners Guitar Group’, storytime sessions and the ‘Memory Lane Café’ for people with dementia which is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society.”
  • Digital focus for Libraries Week as Bobby Seagull publishes manifesto – BookSeller. “The annual event, sponsored by Nielsen Book and Rakuten Overdrive, will feature coding clubs, the publication of “University Challenge” star and CILIP Library Champion Bobby Seagull publish a manifesto for libraries. Seagull is calling on politicians to invest more in the service through a £50m improvement fund and “fair funding” for local authotrities .”
  • England’s libraries and museums get share of £250m boost – BBC. “Libraries, museums and other cultural institutions in England are to benefit from a five-year £250m government fund. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would set aside £125m for the upkeep of libraries and museums.”
  • Lifeline for Libraries – Express. “Brexit policy is not and cannot be the only mark of a good government. It is essential that the domestic agenda to improve the lot of people in this country and protect the things that give life value is also delivered. So it is very welcome that the Queen’s Speech will include plans for an extra £250million for libraries and museums.” … “It is certainly a sign that Mr Johnson is determined to make Britain a fairer and better place that he has devoted funds for this cause.”
  • New £250 million Culture Investment Fund launched – DCMS. Over £125m for libraries and museums.
  • York rail museum handed £18.5m from ‘biggest fund in a century’ – Yorkshire Post. “The National Railway Museum in York, which attracted more than 820,000 people last year, has been guaranteed £18.5m from the pot, claimed by ministers to be the biggest one-off investment in museums and neighbourhood libraries in the last century.” … “The new fund will see a total of £125m ploughed into regional museums around the country.” … “”The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it would be delivered in tranches of £50m for each of the next five years. Coventry, which will succeed Hull as the UK’s City of Culture in 2021, will get £7m from the fund.”
  • Game Library Camp – Eventbrite. Saturday 9 November, Leeds. “With sessions on developing games collections, running tabletop gaming events, games based learning, escape rooms and interactive fiction it provides an opportunity to learn how games are being used across the library and information sector. As well as scheduled sessions, attendees can add their own topics to the afternoon discussion sessions. The full list of speakers and detailed schedule can be found at
  • GLL-run Libraries rated ‘Excellent’ by users – GLL. “”The latest survey shows customer satisfaction scoring an ‘Excellent’ rating of 97% in September 2019. Meanwhile the Net Promoter Score (NPS) indicating the percentage of customers who would recommend the service, rose by 6% to 63%. Scores above 30% are considered ‘Excellent’” … “Library visits in Greenwich increased from 1.49m in 2010 to 2.57m in 2018/19; Wandsworth topped the table of issuing authorities in London with 1,469,021 items issued; Bromley Libraries continue an upward trajectory, with issues up 4% to 1,454,806; Lincolnshire Libraries issued 2m items for the first time; Dudley Libraries added 5% to their annual issues – up to 971,663”
  • Lego Libraries Winners – Libraries Week. Padgate Library in Warrington wins. “It is the programme of activities outlined above and the future plans for the Business Case which have influenced our LEGO Library of the Future. This can be seen in the Lecture Theatre, Art Gallery, Coffee Shop with walking group leaving the building  and a Meditation Garden. In the future we would like to be able to offer rehearsal space and a recording studio for local music groups. Having access to 24 hour issuing of items from an automated outside system would be a dream.”
  • Libraries Connected announces major new programme for The Novels That Shaped Our World festival – Libraries Connected. “Led by Libraries Connected and funded by a £253,000 grant from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, with additional support from BBC Arts, the year-long multi-platform engagement collaboration marks 300 years since the birth of the English language novel. ” … “Libraries Connected will work with BBC Arts and libraries to deliver a programme of innovative activities for all communities, from voracious readers to those who haven’t read a novel in years, with opportunities for everyone to try something new to read. Libraries will commission artists, creatives and local partners who specialise in working with vulnerable groups, including refugees, young people at risk of knife crime and adults with dementia.”
  • Libraries Connected launches programme for BBC Novels That Shaped Our World festival – BookSeller.
  • Maddie’s Do You Know? – BBC. “Maddie learns how a library works and visits a factory to discover how a book is made”
  • Public Libraries 2030 and NewsGuard Announce Partnership to Bring Media Literacy Tool to European Public Libraries – Newsguard. “NewsGuard and Public Libraries 2030 are bringing NewsGuard’s Media Literacy Partnership Program to libraries in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Belgium. NewsGuard uses trained journalists to rate and review thousands of news and information websites for credibility and transparency practices.”
  • When is a library a lifeline? – Arts Council England. Kerry Hudson: “A kid who was smart but had nowhere to turn smart into a future. Nowhere, that is, except libraries, where I was always welcomed. Where no one asked anything of me. Where the books on the shelves provided portals to other worlds that might be mine if I just held on. Each time I picked up a book and read of a life that was not mine but that might be one day I was sent the message ‘keep going, don’t stop, keep hoping.’ So I did. Now I write books that sit in the same libraries that gave me life.”

International news

  • European Union – EU Library Factsheets – Public Libraries 2030. “We created a series of Libraries and Skills fact sheets which show key statistics from libraries alongside EU DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) data for every EU member state, in partnership with Princh and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Library Map of the World. This provides a surprising mix of data to use with local and European policy makers.
  • FinlandSports clubs in Finland offer season tickets on loan from local libraries – Uutiset. “Sports clubs in Finland are teaming up with their local libraries to offer season tickets on loan in a bid to fill stands and provide opportunities to support local outfits. Basketball team Helsinki Seagulls is reportedly the first team in Finland to launch a campaign that will allow library-goers to borrow a season ticket to the club’s games from the Töölö library. Seagulls’ sports director Toni Leppänen told daily Helsingin Sanomat that the team wants to offer members of the public an opportunity to see a basket ball game at least once.”
  • Global – A Map of Banned Books – Princh. “This post will shine a light on many books that have been banned to the “dark”. In today’s post there will be a map of banned books in an infographic format. “
  • Portugal The Gaming Library That Helped a Neglected Neighborhood Find a New Identity – Vice. “When the city council announced plans in 2012 for a new local library, Marvilans eyed it with skepticism. Lisbon city hall officials envisioned this and other “libraries of the future” as a way to directly connect with locals, address illiteracy, and tackle inequity, but the library team says many residents saw it differently: just another imposition … It could have remained only a library, eyed askance and left empty by wary Marvilans. But an unusual head coordinator has taken an everyday building and turned it into a local fixture with gaming programs unlike anything in Portugal.”

“Despite outsiders’ doubts, Marvila library’s pro-gaming policy has changed community dynamics. Oliveira said parents no longer worry about kids’ whereabouts and safety. With the library close to the school, kids go immediately after classes to hang out with friends, get help with homework, and play games. When the library opens later on weekends, he says they line up for an hour just to get in and play. “

Local news by authority

  • Shropshire – Roadshow gathers feedback on services provided by Oswestry Library – Advertizer.
  • Suffolk – Stradbroke Library manager ‘blown away’ by celebratory artwork – Diss Express. “The three-panelled piece of work – conceived by artists Hannah Weeks, Christine Cooper and Kay Edwards – represents the community café, library and post office which are housed in the former courthouse building in Queens Street.”
    • Suffolk Libraries day: Karate, cakes and unicorns – East Anglian Daily Times. “Activities in Ipswich will include a book mountain and cake sale at Ipswich County Library, the chance to take your anger out on a pad in the Karate event at Gainsborough Community Library or the singathon on the Cornhill.” … “The Book Journey Challenge has been the biggest event of all and has involved all of the libraries pulling together to transport a book by a local author around every single location in Suffolk to raise awareness for the day.” … “Suffolk Libraries day has been sponsored by loads of businesses including Adnams, Ipswich Buses and East of England Buses who have all contributed to the book journey and other activities.”
    • Can you spot your child at the Chantry Library Cinderella disco? – East Anglian Daily Times. “Dressed as beautiful princesses themselves, they got to bop along to their favourite songs and have their picture taken with the Disney heroine. Chantry Library manager Vicki Mann said: “It was just so magical, at the end of the disco the clock chimed midnight and Cinderella ran off leaving her slipper behind.” … “The library has also hosted a Womble-inspired litter pick and a craft fair.”
  • Warrington – Out-of-this-world success for libraries reading challenge – Warrington Worldwide. “All together this summer: * 2,009 children in Warrington took part – up 11 per cent on last year and 28 per cent up on 2017. * 1,033 children finished the challenge – up 19 per cent on last year and 20 per cent on 2017. * 9 young people volunteered a total of 58 hours supported the challenge– compared to seven young people and 53 hrs last year. * 137 children joined a library to take part, up 57 per cent on last year * 280 youngsters took part in the Under 5s challenge – up 21 per cent on last year and 36 per cent in 2017. * Penketh Library had the most children taking part with 338. * 17 children took part in the challenge at the summer scheme in St Elphin’s Park.”
    • Over 750 people enjoy visiting a ‘Fun Palace’ in the revamped Museum & Library – Warrington Worldwide. “Since 2014 a total of 1367 ‘Fun Palaces’ have been held with over 450,000 people taking part. This was the second year that LiveWire’s Community Librarian Team has held a ‘Fun Palace’ event – following a successful one at Padgate Library in 2018. Over 750 people came through the doors on Saturday October 5 at the newly-revamped Warrington Museum & Library on the day, joining in the ‘Fun Palace’ creativity, which included activities like children’s yoga, flower arranging, Chinese calligraphy, storytelling, poetry reading, family craft activities, signing choir, wildlife drawing, make-up demonstrations, DJ workshops and so much more.”
  • Wokingham – Library challenge encourages young members to get reading – Wokingham Today. “Out of the 2,014 children who successfully completed the challenge, 378 had previously not been members of the library before signing up.” … “A poetry and short story competition ran alongside the ‘Space Chase’, with winners presented with a certificate, goody bags and complimentary tickets to the Wokingham Children’s Book Festival.  “

In praise of fun palaces


Test Close readers of Public Libraries News will have picked up that I am slightly suspicious of shiny new initiatives. The fear is that such things – a singer in a reference library, a theatre show in a lending space, a 3D printer sat semi-ignored on a cabinet – takes up time, resources and, worst case, actively puts people off using the unique selling points of libraries like free book loan or study space. At the same time, though, I understand that libraries need to look up, and not backwards, and that a non-changing service is a stagnant one. This is sometimes not an easy combination of beliefs for a printed book lover such as myself.

However, I’m recovering today from what was the truly joyous experience of helping to organise and host a fun palace in one of “my” libraries. A host of community groups – brownies, ju jitsu, a science teacher, a community theatre company, knitters, photographer, board games, a Viking re-enactor and a few others – took over the place. The place was buzzing all morning with lots of happy people trying new things and, crucially as far as I was concerned, no money changing hands anywhere down the line. There were no professional entertainers and it was all for the joy of it. And, on top of all this – the cherry on top of this – was that those people who dared to use the library for its normal uses (borrowing a book, reading a paper, using a computer) could do so fairly normally. Well, they may have been offered more biscuits than usual but, apart from that, one thing did not block the other.

Wonderful, so more power to the non-commercial community-upwards fun palaces ideal. Now on to Libraries Week, with its mix of augmented reality class visits (Friday), murder mysteries (Tuesday and Wednesday), author visit (Wednesday) and inter-library quiz (Saturday) interspersed with book ordering, queries, writing up the results of a book promotion and research into library youth participation. 25 years on in the profession and it’s not got boring yet.

Changes by local authority


  • Dog friendly days – Pet dogs owned by the public let in with their owners on specific days.

National news

  • Have your say in our Professionalism Review – CILIP. “… we’ve launched our Professionalism Review – to re-state, clearly and positively, the contemporary definition of librarianship, information and knowledge management as an open, inclusive and progressive ‘profession’. As part of this work we want to develop a clear and inclusive definition of what it means to be a professional in our sector, so we would like to know what ‘professionalism’ means to you. “
  • The history of the library: why bigger isn’t always better – Financial Times. “The Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013 and was designed by another Dutch practice, Mecanoo, illustrates the perils of scale. A piece of metropolitan boosterism for the UK’s second-biggest city, it cost £189m and replaced an actually very fine (and now posthumously rather fashionable) Brutalist building by John Madin (1974). Yet within less than two years, its opening hours were almost halved and half the staff made redundant.”
  • Libraries and open data – DCMS. “The workshop started with hearing from colleagues in DCMS about the history of open data and the government’s commitment to it. As well as being responsible for libraries, DCMS also leads for open data for government and this helped to reinforce the continued importance of improving the quality of and access to data. “
  • Baker & Taylor Launches Pop Up Library in United Kingdom – PR Newswire. “Pop Up Libraries generate their own library-branded Wi-Fi network at the sites chosen by the library. By connecting to the network, users can log on to browse eBooks available to borrow and read immediately, without needing an app or a library card, and can be saved to read offline for the duration of the loan. While reading, users are prompted to log in or sign up as a member to take advantage of everything the library provides.”

International news

  • Australia – round-breaking library pod opens in shopping centre – Ipswich First. “pswich Libraries is rewriting the book with an innovative self-service Library Pod opening at Karalee Shopping Village. In an Australian first for a public library, the Pod will allow members to use a mobile phone or library card to browse, borrow and return books.”
  • Global – Comic Books and Libraries – History, Value & Benefit – Princh. “Adding a graphic novel section to your library can generate more visits among children and adults. The more popular heroes would be of general interest, but there are many ‘underground’ or less mainstream characters which would attract the interest of comic lovers and ensure a rich and steady stream of material.”
  • USA – Two teenagers set up a non-profit to donate books with Muslim characters to schools – Metro. “The experience got them wondering why there were so few choices of Muslim-focused books in public access libraries. So they set up their own service, Girls of the Crescent. They buy texts that feature Muslim characters and donate them to schools around America.”
    • An NYC Rap Icon’s Latest Hustle: Hip-Hop Coordinator…At the Library – Narratively. “The position has been over a decade in the making. In the past fifteen years, the library has added programs to teach kids about the deep roots hip-hop has in this borough, though the music and lifestyle originated in the South Bronx.”
    • Chicago Public Library to eliminate late fees, erase debt and begin automatic renewals for up to 45 weeks – Chicago Sun Times. “The Chicago Public Library system plans to eliminate late fees starting Oct. 1. — making Chicago the largest city in the nation to adopt the growing trend. Not only will the move do away with late fees going forward, it will also erase all outstanding overdue fees currently owed to the city. “I think our staff members are going to be practically jumping over their circulation desks to tell people that fines have been eliminated,” Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli said.”
    • Why Libraries Are Eliminating Late Fees for Overdue Books – CityLab. ” Just this year, public libraries in cities like Phoenix, Dallas, and Palm Beach, Florida, have changed their policy, and Curtis Rogers, ULC’s communications director, expects more libraries and cities to follow suit.”
    • Down With Dewey – Slate. “Harrington, also director of the Memorial Library at Berry College in Georgia, said she was surprised the ALA didn’t find Dewey’s past problematic until now. “It wasn’t like he’s being judged by 21st-century standards,” she said. “He was called out repeatedly for his sexual harassment behavior during his time.” But Dewey, she said, is considered a legend, “and people will say he’s responsible for making it OK for women to be in the profession.” “
    • The New $41 Million Hunters Point Library Has One Major Flaw – Gothamist. Architect builds “state of the art” public library with no disabled access to fiction shelves.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Top honours for Turriff reader – Grampian Online. “Winners took home certificates and a medal produced on a 3D printer. Finlay also received prizes donated by Mackie’s of Scotland – a £100 book gift card and a year’s supply of ice cream.”
  • BradfordBradford’s library and museum workers in cuts strike – BBC. “Workers at Bradford’s libraries and museums have voted to go on strike over what a union called “swingeing cuts”. Members of the Unite union voted to take industrial action with strike dates set to be announced this week. Unite say the council’s “hardline attitude” is in “sharp contrast” with its bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. Bradford Council said it was “disappointed” Unite members had voted for strike action.”
  • Brent – Kensal Rise Library’s victorious re-opening following eight-year battle – Kilburn Times. “Hundreds of wellwishers attended Kensal Rise Community Library, in Bathurst Gardens, for its grand opening ceremony, which coincided with the anniversary of its opening by Mark Twain in 1900. ” … “”The fight has demanded almost 10 years of extraordinary effort by people who have never made a library before.”
  • Bristol – Every Bristol library could get up to £4,000 – Bristol Live. “The money for the city’s 27 libraries will come from a new “libraries innovation fund”,  announced by Bristol City Council on Tuesday, October 1. The exact amount has not been released but it will be around £100,000.” The announcement follows last year’s u-turn by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on planned £1.4million budget cuts that would have seen 17 libraries close. The ruling Labour cabinet instead agreed to spend more than a quarter of a million pounds to create a new plan to keep as much of the city’s library service open as possible.”
  • Bromley Bromley libraries strikers proved right – private company admits job cuts – Socialist Party. “Unite ran a campaign opposing the transfer and predicted that it would lead to job cuts. GLL and Bromley denied the union claims and, as recently as a month ago, threatened to sue Unite regional officer and Socialist Party member Onay Kasab for libel and defamation unless the claims were withdrawn. Unite refused – and has been proved right. GLL is now proposing to cut 30 library staff. Yet library workers are on strike precisely because the service is at breaking point due to unfilled vacancies”
  • Buckinghamshire – Amersham library moves into temporary location – Mix 96. “The library, which is currently located on the Chiltern Pools site in Amersham, is due to be demolished in November and library services from that building will end in October. This is because part of the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre will be built over the area where the library is at the moment. In order to ensure residents still have access to a local library for the duration of the building works, the council offices, which are just across the road from Chiltern Pools, will host the library during the development.”
  • Cornwall – Redruth library could be knocked down for or converted into homes – Cornwall Live. “The building, located in the town centre on Clinton Road, currently serves as a library, which is run by Redruth Town Council. However, it is hoped that by early next year, all library services will be transferred to the former Cornish Studies Centre on nearby Alma Place.”
    • Truro Library to be run under new partnership – Packet. “Truro Community Library has been safeguarded for the community under a new partnership between Cornwall Council and Truro City Council. Under the agreement, the library was transferred to the city council as from yesterday. The ownership of the Passmore Edwards Library and the lease on Truro Technical Schools will be transferred to Truro City Council at the same time.”
  • Denbighshire – Denbigh Library marks a special anniversary – Denbighshire Free Press. 30 years.
  • Devon – From Lego to tattoo art: Devon libraries set for Fun Palaces 2019 – Exmouth Journal.
  • Durham – Join the Digital Revolution this Libraries Week – Newton News.
  • Edinburgh – Edinburgh libraries start Dog Friendly Thursdays where pooches can be fed and watered – Edinburgh Live. “Three libraries across Edinburgh will be holding regular Dog Friendly Thursdays, starting this week on October 3.” … “The move is aimed at tackling loneliness and social isolation, meaning dog-owners no longer have to worry about leaving their pets outside when they visit the library.” … “The scheme follows a similar successful initiative in Perthshire.”
  • Essex – ‘Come and join in the party to save our library’ – Harwich and Mannington – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Manningtree Library Action Group is holding the party as part of an action day over Essex County Council’s plans to create community-run libraries today from 11am and 1pm. ” … “A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “We know several ‘love your library’ events are planned outside some libraries on Saturday. While we applaud the organisers’ passion for libraries, we would stress these are events which have been organised independently and are not taking place inside our buildings or on library land. “
    • In pictures: Campaigners hold huge street party to show love for library – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. ““Community libraries, we know they are not sustainable at any level, they can’t deliver the service we need.” Campaigners raised more money for the campaign on the day and also received 230 more signatures for the petition. The action day comes after more than 1,600 people signed a petition against plans for volunteers to run many of the county’s libraries.”
    • Letter: Library comments are a disgrace – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Complaint about councillor comments.
    • Library campaigners stage countywide day of action – Yellow Advertiser. “Thousands joined library campaigners SOLE’s countywide day of action on Saturday with protests against what campaigners call a ‘closure plan by stealth’ taking place from Hadleigh to Harlow, and from Stanway to Shenfield. In Manningree hundreds joined a street party outside the town’s library, while in Galleywood an exhibition of children’s artwork in appreciation of their library was displayed and hundreds signed a petition against the plans. In Broomfield dozens marched from Church Green to the village library, where speakers called on their local parish council to withdraw its library takeover bid. “So called community libraries are a closure plan by stealth”, said SOLE’s Andy Abbott.”
    • Save Our Libraries Essex protest day attracts hundreds – This is Local London. “A street party held outside Manningtree library arguably attracted the biggest crowd, while in Galleywood an exhibition of children’s artwork was displayed as residents signed the petition. “So called community libraries are a closure plan by stealth,” said Save Our Libraries Essex’s (SOLE) Andy Abbott, who participated in a march for Broomfield Library.”

Manchester – Library Live 2019 – YouTube.

A month of public libraries news, much of it good


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

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

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

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

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


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

Changes by authority

National news

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

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


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

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

Sue Willliamson by email

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

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

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

Changes by local authority

National news

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

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

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

International news

Drag Queen Story times

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

Joseph Coelho tour

Local news by authority

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

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

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


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

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

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

Changes by authority

National news

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

International news

Local news by authority

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

A few cans of library worms


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

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

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

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

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

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


National news

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

Go (North) West


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

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


National news

Opening the Book have been thinking

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

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

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

Universal Offers reduced to four, or possibly increased to six


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


Purpose of libraries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National news

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

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


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

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

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


The purpose of public libraries

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Local news

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