Storyteller, library names, a strike and a book thief

Editorial

It’s great to see mention of the combined Sidcup library and cinema, “Storyteller”, in Bexley. Some co-locations of libraries with other services don’t work – you can normally tell which by the prominence of the library or otherwise when you enter the building – but combining a library with a cinema or, as in the case of the similarly named Storyhouse, with a theatre, strikes me as a natural combination. Seemingly also naturally combined at the moment are announcements of cuts and refurbishments all in one week. Ah, the joy of an atomised public library service. Much of the bad news is down to further cuts in funding for local government. It is to be hoped that the extra funding announced this week will help. Or doing this website is going to get pretty depressing in 2024.

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In other news, thanks to a reader of the previous post who sent me a list of libraries named after men. Of course, the biggest number of all – Carnegie – is almost so big as to be invisible (like water to a fish) but apart from him we have:

  • Haringey – Marcus Garvey Library, named after a Jamaican political activist (his life story is fascinating) who moved to London.
  • Hull –  Fred Moore Library, named (I think?) after a councillor.
  • Lambeth – Minet Library. The Minet Library was built by William Minet and opened in 1890. Minet was a descendant of French Huguenots who immigrated to London in the 1700s, and 1889 he also gave 14½ acres of land to the London County Council to create Myatt’s Fields Park.
    • Durning Library, Kennington, also in Lambeth. Durning Library is a public lending library in Kennington, London. The Durning Library was built in 1889, designed by Sidney R. J. Smith the architect of Tate Britain, in the Gothic Revival style. It was a gift to the people of Kennington from Jemina Durning Smith.
    • Brixton Tate Library, yet another in Lambeth. The Brixton Library (also known as the Brixton Tate Library) is a public library in the London Borough of Lambeth in Brixton, South West London. It was built in the 1890s by the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate and is a Grade II listed building. Also Tate South Lambeth Library so that is no less than four libraries named after a man in one service.
  • There are also several Passmore Edwards Libraries, including one in Shepherd’s Bush and in Newton Abbot. Built and funded by John Passmore Edwards, a philanthropist that paid for no less than 24 libraries.
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Changes by local authority

National news

  • Britain faces a literacy crisis that could make us fatter, less employable and depressed – Standard. “One fifth of public libraries in Britain, moreover, have closed in the past ten years”
  • How to lose a library – Public Books. “On October 31, 2023, the British Library suffered a massive cyberattack. As of publication, the Library remains physically open, but its digital infrastructure is almost completely disabled.”
  • Making more of libraries – BookSeller. “the success of partnerships with retailers can be easily tracked through book sales; collaborations with libraries may offer a more subtle and longer-term halo effect. But the public library network, with up to 4,000 libraries in every part of the UK, cannot be matched for its scale, reach and influence on our reading habits. As the forums demonstrated there is a real opportunity to build the relationship between libraries and publishers and an enthusiasm to see how mutually beneficial partnerships can be established. By working together to help readers explore new or unfamiliar authors and genres, libraries and publishers can foster a more diverse literary landscape – something that will benefit everyone who writes, sells, lends, or reads books.”
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  • The Reading Agency announces Quick Reads will be gifted for World Book Night 2024 – Reading Agency. “36,000 copies of the 2024 Quick Reads will be gifted through libraries to reach emerging and lapsed readers in settings such as hospitals, prisons, care homes and shelters in the community”
  • Volunteers step in to take on cut council services – BBC. “Councils are not legally obliged to run leisure centres or libraries [untrue – Ed.] which means that without the help of volunteers, the library in Wilsden, Bradford, would have likely closed.”. Bradford, “which is close to declaring bankruptcy” says “”We have a lower budget for libraries than many other places so are grateful to these and other great volunteers who run the 15 community-managed libraries across the district.”” 
  • Where should libraries go now Twitter *HAS* become a wasteland? – Ned Potter. For public libraries: “For all Facebook’s problems (across all demographics except 55+ people are leaving FB, but so many 55+ are on there it is still the biggest social network – and daily use is consistently falling whilst leaping ever upwards on Instagram and TikTok) it remains a really useful tool for Public Libraries. It can act almost as a branch online, and Cape May County Library in the US and Hampshire Library Service in the UK are good examples of places doing that well. However, I think Instagram is the coming platform for this sector”

International news

Local news by authority

Liverpool
Nottinghamshire
West Dunbartonshire

Public libraries named after women: there’s not many

Editorial

Writing Public Libraries News can be, well, slightly depressing at times but this week is a pleasure for a couple of reasons. The first is I would like to celebrate with you the opening a new library. And not just a new library but the first public library to be named, it is believed, after any non-white woman in the history of UK public libraries. So step forward, Southwark Libraries, long a leading light in public library provision and the new Una Marson Library, named after the Jamaican activist who wrote poems and plays and was the first black woman to be employed by the BBC during World War Two.

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This got me thinking about how many public libraries are named after women at all in the UK. Discounting those which are based in community centres or other buildings named after women but where the library itself is not named after one itself then I can find only two examples, one each in England and Scotland, so far. So, another step forward, this time to Durning Library in Lambeth, named after its funder Jemima Durning, and the Jennie Lee Library, in Lochgelly (Fife) named after one of the leading figures in the founding of the Open University. Pretty cool. Does anyone have any more? Or is it just three for the UK? Hmm, come to think of it, I wonder how many are named after men …?

In other news, it’s been a week of announcements of libraries opening/closing due to refurbishments, which makes me smile a bit. Plus also there’s some bad news about RAAC and a few other things but it’s nearly Christmas so let’s focus on the positives. And work out how we can get a library named after Miriam Margoyles. The opening of that one should bring a smile. And, knowing Miriam, a bit of swearing too.

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Changes by authority

National news

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“This webinar explains how libraries and archives can engage with the local planning process and plan-making officials in order to secure funding through Section 106 legal agreements (S106) and/or the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), collectively known as developer contributions.”
  • Giving children books is good – but saving libraries for them is even better – Guardian / Letters. “That so many children today do not own a book is disturbing, but it’s just as bad, or worse, that their access to libraries is shrinking. A number of local libraries have been closed under pretty much every local authority, and book budgets are terribly constrained. This denies children the access to the enormous range of books that libraries have been able to offer in the past. Ownership of a few books is really no substitute for this.”
  • Know Your Neighbourhood Knowledge Sharing Event – Libraries Connected. Tuesday 30 January 10am to Noon, Teams. Focus on how public libraries can deal with loneliness [amongst their users, that is, not their staff]
  • Libraries Connected Awards 2024 – Libraries Connected. “We are looking for individuals or teams working in public libraries in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and The Crown Dependencies who have had a positive impact on the library service, library users or the local community. This could by introducing an innovative new idea or by going the extra to mile to provide an outstanding service.”
  • Scottish public libraries: we must protect them – Herald. “While undertaking a research project about post-pandemic reading in Scotland – published in our Reading in Scotland report – the Scottish Book Trust found many people who rely on, and love, their local library. The study found 75% of people surveyed used the library to get print books for themselves before the pandemic restrictions, and 94% of those with children used the library to get print books for them.”

International news

“Gen Z and millennials are visiting public libraries more than any other generation, a new American Library Association survey found. ALA president Emily Drabinski joins CBS News to explain what’s driving the trend.”
  • USA – Why banning or burning books is the start of something terrifying – Sydney Morning Herald. “All but four states in the US have introduced pro-censorship laws. “We are now outpacing even the McCarthy era in terms of censorship,” she says. “This should be a global concern because we are seeing other nations who are copy-catting the clamping down on freedom of speech.””
    • An Interview with Seattle’s Chief Librarian, Tom Fay – Urbanist. “The library can’t put its head in the sand. I don’t hide things that we do. Like when we look at having issues in our restrooms from smoking various drugs, we’ve had to put in sensors.”. Focuses on security and attracting new immigrants. ” every time I go into the library, I’m looking for what are they doing to activate the space to really engage people of all ages, right? Because I think that is the biggest challenge. “
    • How a Des Moines 11-year-old with autism found confidence to speak with library books – Des Moines Register. “Anna’s experience at the library also has evolved into something more for Anna when she started reading to groups of children that visit the library.” … “Going to the library has helped Anna “come out of her shell,” according to her mother. “I think she loves seeing other children smile,” 
    • Jay-Z Is Auctioning Custom Library Cards to Benefit the Brooklyn Public Library – Artnet. “The legendary rapper Jay-Z is auctioning off a signed black leather Pinel et Pinel briefcase filled with custom metal library cards, each showcasing an example of his album artwork from across the decades. The sale is hosted by Christie’s New York and Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded and run by Jay-Z. The estimate is only being provided on request, and all proceeds will go toward the Brooklyn Public Library.”
    • The Week in Libraries: December 8, 2023 – Publishers Weekly. Montana removes requirement for librarianship qualification for senior librarians; 75% of Oregon library staff feel unsafe due to crime; Wisconsin aims to allow librarians to be prosecuted if they allow certain books to be seen by minors;

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Crunch decision for Aberdeen libraries looms – Morning Star. “councillors will have the chance to reverse a decision to axe libraries in some of the city’s most deprived areas this week. At its budget meeting in March, the SNP-led council backed the closure of Cornhill, Cults, Ferryhill, Kaimhill, Northfield and Woodside libraries as well as Bucksburn Swimming Pool, but campaigners against the decision fought on.”
    • A million pound mistake? Costs revealed as council could reopen Bucksburn Swimming Pool – Press and Journal. “Campaigners fighting to save the pool and Cornhill, Cults, Ferryhill, Kaimhill, Northfield and Woodside libraries launched a judicial review of the decision.” due to equality concerns for elderly and disabled. Original council impact assessments inadequate. “Councillors will be given the choice to reinstate the swimming pool, and the six libraries as a separate job lot.”.. “The combined cost of recommissioning the partially emptied buildings [libraries] comes to £128,000. Then the annual running of the six buildings would total £346,000.”. £320k also needed in repairs for closed libraries.
  • Blaenau Gwent – Why a Gwent library has been closed since last week – Yahoo News. “Blaina Library, one of six libraries in Blaenau Gwent run by the Aneurin Leisure Trust, has been closed since just before 6pm on Wednesday, November 29. According to a statement posted on the Trust’s official X, formerly Twitter, account, the closure is due to the need for some “urgent maintenance work” to be carried out.”
  • Caerphilly – Library given “tentative” reopening after months of delays – Caerphilly Observer. “The library, which has undergone a £400,000 refurbishment was originally set to open in the summer of 2023 but has been plagued by ongoing problems. “. Vandalism, redesign and lift problems have delayed opening, now pencilled in for January.
  • Camden – The Library of Things – Camden’s festive friend – Camden Council. “There are many items that residents can borrow to help out this festive season including a party kit, sound systems and a pop-up bed to host friends and family.”
City of London
GLL/Better are having Warm Spaces in four library services: Bromley, Dudley, Greenwich and Wandsworth: “leading wholesale food service company Brakes, has agreed to donate free tea, coffee and biscuits to all fourteen locations”. The other GLL service, Lincolnshire, is offering a more limited service.
  • Guernsey – Library marks fifth anniversary of child section – BBC. “In the first year after the revamp, library visits rose by 8% to more than 160,000, and children’s book loans also rose, with 2023 figures on course to exceed those from 2019, staff said.” .. children “always so excited about the staircases, the secret passageways and the reading nooks “
  • Hampshire – Hampshire Libraries to help tackle loneliness at Christmas – Eastleigh News. Lists events, regular activities and library services.
  • Herefordshire – This is why plans for Hereford’s new library are wrong – Hereford Times / Letters. Council plans to move Hereford Library into Shire Hall. “I feel this decision has been made with the primary driver being to find an economic use for the building, rather than what is in the best interest of the library service.” … “a serious error of judgement has been made to not take up the opportunity of a city-centre location in Maylord Orchards. This would offer for greater opportunities to engage with customers”
  • Highlands – High Life Libraries bid to develop ‘Sense for Communities’ project accepted – Strathspey and Badenoch Herald. “High Life Highland have announced that a bid for funding to develop a sensory project to improve the wellbeing of “hard-to-reach” groups has been approved, after they applied to the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).”
    • £6000 for High Life Highland library sensory project – Northern Times. “d £6000 from the national Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) to develop its Making Sense for Communities’ project. It aims to engage with and improve the health and wellbeing of hard-to-reach groups including those with autism, dementia, physical impairment, and those who are socially isolated.”. Includes sensory projector.
  • Hull – Hull Council plan after ‘warm zone’ boiler breakdowns – BBC. “Two council-run “warm zones” in Hull are not living up to their name after their central heating broke. Western Library and Greenwood Avenue Library are now using portable heaters to keep the temperatures inside up.”
  • Isle of Man – Henry Bloom Noble Library praised by UK charity for its ‘impactful services’ – Isle of Man Today. “The CEO and president of ‘Libraries Connected’ said the library buildings should reflect local needs and this is evident on the island.”
  • Manchester – Manchester’s Libraries Are Becoming ‘Warm Welcome Spaces’ With Free Hot Drinks And Wi-Fi This Winter – Secret Manchester. “The scheme spans free hot drinks, free Wi-Fi, free data SIM cards, newspapers, information and advice and extra signposting to support services in the city.”
  • Middlesbrough – Historic Central Library in Middlesbrough closes doors for refurbishment – Gazette Live. “The ground floor of the library will be transformed into a captivating space incorporating a family-focused library and separate adult lending space, to host events and activities promoting a lifelong love of literacy and creativity.”
  • North Somerset – New scheme provides safe spaces for women and girls across North Somerset – North Somerset Council. “Purple chairs are being installed in libraries across North Somerset to provide a clear beacon of safety for women and girls. The ‘Purple Chair Scheme’ provides a safe space for women and girls to access information about health and wellbeing, as well as support and resources available to them in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. This may be when someone is experiencing domestic or racial abuse, or addiction issues.”
  • Nottingham – We Explore the New Central Library – Leftlion. “it was Dolly Parton who opened the new Nottingham Central Library. She had teleported in via a specially-recorded broadcast to give her blessing to the new building alongside councillors and the city’s most bookish literary bods. Reading, reading, reading, reading, Dolly said, more or less. Please take the books out just because you can.” … ” As well as displays of local artists and a well-buffed espresso machine, there’s a walk-around exhibition detailing Broadmarsh’s history, a sensory room in which you can disguise yourself within a pod of whales (and about time too), free Wi-Fi with 55 computers on which to type and surf (the net, not with whales), and we think we’re forgetting something – oh yes, nearly 200,000 books”
  • Rotherham – Swinton Library moved to civic hall after survey shows RAAC in roof – BBC. “A library earmarked for demolition has been moved to a nearby civic hall after a survey revealed issues with its roof. Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) was discovered in the roof of Swinton community library near Rotherham, the council said. The authority said it temporarily closed the building last week as a “precautionary measure”, in line with other local authorities. The library building was already earmarked for demolition. “A newly-refurbished library is planned to be opened early next year at the former customer service centre building [nearby] as part of a major redevelopment of Swinton town centre,” the council said.”
  • Shropshire – New shelving for two Shropshire libraries – Shropshire Council. “The Friends of Church Stretton” have provided shelving for that library while ACE have provided new shelving for Bridgnorth Library. “The Arts Council England funding will also be providing new shelving for libraries in Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Oswestry and Whitchurch. Dates for these installations will be confirmed soon.”
    • New Ready Reads service launched for Whitchurch Library users – Shropshire Council. “A new Ready Reads service has been launched for people affected by the temporary closure of Whitchurch Library. Library staff will take requests for books when they are at the town’s market on Fridays, and readers will be able to collect their choices from Whitchurch Heritage Centre”
  • Southwark – Library named after BBC’s first black radio producer opens to public – London News Online “A brand new library has opened to the public, named after the feminist, activist and writer Una Marson. The Una Marson Library in Thurlow Street, Southwark, opened today as part of the council’s redevelopment of the Aylesbury area. The new library will offer book and DVD loans, newspapers, public access PCs, printing and copying facilities, meeting rooms, study spaces, free Wi-Fi and a full programme of events that will run throughout the year. “
Staffordshire

A Stirling effort at a Thesis and Antithesis? Nott.

Editorial

I was always taught in school to present the thesis (one theory), the antithesis (the argument against that theory) and then the synthesis (the conclusion after weighing all the evidence). Never done it with public libraries before but lets give it a go.

The thesis would be that libraries are recovering well from spending cuts, with their building stock being renewed. Evidence just this week would be: Shipley Library having a new enterprise hub; Brierly Library opening in Dudley after a £670k refurbishment;a very impressive new Central Library opening in Nottingham; Scottish Government funding to support new projects in libraries; Bolton Central Library about to reopen after a major refurbishment; another new central library opening in Paisley, and Beccles Library in Suffolk reopening after refurbishment. That’s pretty impressive.

But wait, the antithesis is that libraries are still suffering from cuts. Evidence for this is also pretty strong.: Nottingham City Council – the same one that has just opened its lovely new central library – has filed for what it insists is not bankruptcy; Stirling, like Nottingham, also is also in financial trouble and they have announced their plan includes potentially closing all but one library, severely testing the Scottish law about needing to provide an adequate service. Even it’s lesser second, and far more likely, option is to close half of its libraries. In South Gloucestershire, there’s a proposal to cut nearly one-fifth of all staffing hours and, in Leeds, plans to refurbish Crossgates Library collapse after funding could not be found. Cheshire East is reducing its opening hours and Croydon is privately considering potentially closing four libraries. Meanwhile, the state of Kettering Library’s building is so bad in North Northamptonshire that its needing to move to temporary new accommodation. Finally, there’s a campaign starting in Southend against proposed library cuts there.

Hmm, so it’s a rollercoaster ride for libraries this week. What the heck is going on? How can we make a synthesis out of this? Well, I think we can. What has been happening is that there’s been a few years of recovery (or, at least, not austerity) roughly since David Cameron stopped being Prime Minister. So new building projects and refurbishments could afford to be restarted and are coming to fruition now. However, austerity has recently restarted not just because of real cuts but also due to high inflation. This has meant many councils are now facing serious financial problems. The best example of this is Nottingham, which has just opened its new Central Library years after it was started just in time for the new cuts to (officially not) bankrupt it. Many may remember a similar thing happening in early 2010s with the opening of the mega new Library of Birmingham that almost instantly had to cut its hours. So, it’s explainable. New building projects take a while to happen but budget cuts, well, they come instantly. Hence the good and bad news happening together.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • British Library hack: Customer data offered for sale on dark web – BBC. “The British Library says it has evidence that user data was hacked in a cyber attack and offered for sale on the dark web. The library warned users who use the same password elsewhere to change it.”
  • Digital Skills Training: Challenges and Approaches for Libraries – Lorensbergs. ” 11 library authorities got together with Lorensbergs to share challenges and solutions for maintaining staff’s digital skills. When resourcing is low and training demands are high, keeping all staff up to speed is a tough nut to crack. ” A look at training options and strategies.
  • ‘It’s an ongoing challenge’: Will the culture wars come for Britain’s books? – Independent. “When you consider the current landscape of censorship, it is hard not to speculate (as Wilson has) that what’s happening in the US might be prescient for the UK.” … ““he steep rise in book bans in the USA may well embolden people who would like to see such books removed from UK shelves” … “There is no UK equivalent whereby national data about book censorship requests is made available” but “if we were to release a list of books that had been challenged, that would, for some people, become a list of books that ‘should’ be challenged” but “we should be careful not to overstate the problem”
  • Revealing our ethics and values – CILIP. “As budgets continue to be cut, so the need for effective advocacy increases – if libraries and information services are fighting for a share of a dwindling pot, then the advocacy on behalf of those services becomes ever more valuable. So how can we ensure that our advocacy is effective and why should we be thinking about the ethical values when we are talking about services?”
  • Supporting new public libraries projects – Scottish Government. “A group of eight innovative new library projects designed to enrich communities across Scotland will be brought to life through a share of £106,868 support received through the Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF). These projects include the introduction of a comprehensive library outreach offer in East Lothian, a digital project focusing on celebrating Dundee’s Maritime Pasts and Future, and High Life Highland’s sensory project, which aims to engage with those with autism and dementia among many others.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Bolton Library sets date for reopening after refurbishment project – Bolton News. “The £4.43m renovation project and refurbishment has seen the building stripped back to reveal many of the original features and now includes an expanded children’s area, improved social spaces, updated digital facilities and a new café, which will be unveiled at the grand opening.”
  • Bournemouth Christchurch Poole – Writing Groups in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Dorset – Bournemouth Writing Festival. From January and ongoing, Writers’ Havens will be held in libraries as part of the Bournemouth Writing Festival activities. They will be inclusive and supportive groups for writers of all interests.
  • Bradford – The Shipley Library Enterprise Hub officially opens – Telegraph and Argus. “It was created in the former exhibition space at the library, using £80,000 of money from the Government-funded Shipley Towns Fund. The new facility will offer resources and advice to local businesses and start-ups, and the space will also be used for events, meetings and co-working.”
  • Bromley – New initiative in memory of Wendy Cooling launches at Orpington Library – GLL/Better (press release). “Last weekend, schoolkids and families came together at Orpington Library for the launch of ‘Wendy’s House’, a nationwide project set-up in the memory of Bookstart Founder Wendy Cooling.”
  • Cheshire East – Reduced library opening hours come into force – BBC. “Libraries in Alsager, Macclesfield, Sandbach and Poynton will all be closed for an extra 10 hours a week.”
    • Cheshire East could use libraries as community hubs, councillor says – Guardian series. Independent councillor suggests copying Hartlepool’s example: ” “As a result of converting that library space into community hubs, they were able to use those facilities as a front door to a whole range of council services including adults, children’s services, and also introduce refreshment facilities, again, an income generating source for the council within those buildings.”
  • Croydon – Consultants’ year-long study looks to close four public libraries – Inside Croydon. “Croydon’s Conservative-run council has a secret plan to close at least four of the borough’s public libraries, Inside Croydon has discovered.” … “The latest plan is understood to be part of the crisis-hit council’s “asset disposal strategy”, which would seek to sell the public buildings to pay down some of Croydon’s £1.6billion debt.”

“… since the first covid lockdown in 2020, only one of Croydon’s libraries has been operating anything like “normal” opening hours. Central Library, next to the Town Hall, is open five days a week. Of the others, six libraries are open just three days each week, while five are only open for two days a week. The reduced opening hours are a cost-cutting measure that is a direct result of the council going bankrupt three years ago.”

  • Dudley – Library set for grand reopening after refurbishment – Express and Star. “Brierley Hill Library’s internal works, new décor and flooring has been organised by Dudley Council and was funded through the UK Government’s Future High Streets Fund, with £670,000 spent on the refurbishment. Residents can now enjoy improved ground floor access, a children’s library and new meeting rooms for community use such as school classes, group sessions and family activities when it reopens on Monday.”
  • Highland – High Life Highland libraries kick-start traditional Icelandic storytelling sessions – Northern Times. Cultural exchange.
  • North Northamptonshire – Temporary Kettering library to open while leaking roof fixed – BBC. “The library service will move into the new Cornerstone extension building while a £7m repair project takes place. Problems with the 1904 library building have delayed the opening of North Northamptonshire Council’s flagship Cornerstone project, which is designed to link the library and adjacent art gallery with a new community building. The decaying roof of the old building has allowed water to flow into the new one and rainfall in October left the council with no choice but to close the library”

“Called in this afternoon and can report that it was worth the wait. Bookstock has survived its sojourn in storage plus plenty of new stock. Building very spacious with picture windows letting in lots of natural light. Workstations and comfy seating on each floor plus cafe near the entrance. Everything in pristine condition at the moment. Hopefully it won’t be too badly impacted by the next bout of austerity…”

Email received
  • Stirling – Stirling Council Budget Saving Proposals – Stirling Council. Various suggestions for cutting libraries, with the lesser one being “If chosen this option could save almost £400,000 in operating costs each year. Some communities, if their library closed, could receive mobile library visits instead. Other areas may have to travel to their nearest library” and the more severe one being to close every library but one (!).
    • Fury as libraries written off by council bosses ‘letting children down’ with plans for mass closures – Daily Mail. “the proposals have sparked outrage among literacy campaigners who say it will impact on low-income households who cannot afford to buy books. Scottish Book Trust chief executive Marc Lambert said Stirling Council would be ‘letting down a lot of people’.”. Local Conservative says “these damaging closures are the sad but inevitable consequence of the SNP Government’s brutal and sustained underfunding of Scotland’s councils.” and CILIP says “Any council that values its communities also values its libraries and these cuts will cause significant long-term damage if taken”
  • Stirling Council could close all but one library to save costs – Herald.
  • Suffolk – Beccles Library moves back home – Suffolk Libraries. “The library has been operating from a temporary location in the town’s old HSBC building since September to enable substantial building work to be carried out. Despite the challenges of the recent storms, the work is successfully nearing completion and the library building is due to reopen on Friday 8 December. The improvement work has involved replacing the entire roof and all external windows and doors in the main public library area.”
  • ThurrockThurrock libraries launch winter colouring-in competition – Your Thurrock. “All winners will get a box of Cadbury Heroes chocolates.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwickshire library books go green – Stratford Observer. “Warwickshire Home Library Service has unveiled its first electric-powered vehicle to deliver books door-to-door. The new electric vehicle is a modern Peugeot e-Expert van. It will be used by the Home Library Service team, which consists of fourteen volunteer drivers, to deliver library books to all corners of the county. The van has a range of over 150 miles on one charge …”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Plan to ban Israeli books in Scotland – Jewish Chronicle. If the council uses it’s boycott policy then some books may be withdrawn. “No books have so far been removed from any of the authority’s libraries as councillors say censorship is “not in the spirit” of their boycott, but it is understood that officials are prepared to rule on a book-by-book basis.”
  • York – York’s libraries launch Christmas ‘Joy Bringers’ appeal – Press. “Money raised through Explore York’s Joy Bringers campaign will be used to fund holiday activities for children as well as to keep the city’s 15 libraries warm and welcoming through the winter.”

Icebergs and icebreakers

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Editorial

The Autumn Statement may have had, on the face of it, very little to do with public libraries. But, faced with a windfall increase in tax due to inflation, the Government decided to spend it not on public services – which suffer proportionately from inflation – but on tax decreases. This course of action was always going to be very tempting for the Government even not so close to an election – party ideology is all about reducing the tax burden – but it spells further gloom for libraries. And, with budgets having been drastically cut during the Cameron premiership and just about static since this is going to be seriously problematic. Because libraries, despite not just being about the buildings, are primarily building based. And after thirteen years of cuts or budgetary stagnation, those buildings are starting to look a but unloved. And even if there is a change of government soon, it’s going to be hard to steer, let along change, the course of the huge decaying public services ocean liner that is SS Austerity. Let’s hope that there are no ice-bergs.

Something I’ve noticed in public libraries in the decades (I started in 1994) I have worked in them is that where just simply book-lending was enough to keep the place buzzing, that is no longer the case. First what was needed were story-times, then the Summer Reading Challenge, then reading groups then knit and natter. This trend is not going to end soon but something else, apart from the obvious need for more digital investment, that is obvious to me is the need to boost those parts of the service still going strong. One of the main ones of these are the spaces for children. They need to be fun and wow and a place that children and parents want to go back to. And that requires investment, not just maintenance. You can read this week how wealthy public-service-committed Singapore has managed this. The sector may have to endure some more ice-cold waters before it comes anywhere close. But a bright warm children’s library or two doesn’t cost all that much and such heat may act as a nice introduction to families. A little icebreaker, if you will.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Announcing our new grants recipients – LibraryOn. “The £500,000 fund will be distributed among 21 projects, with an average award of £19,350. It means 846 individual library branches will directly benefit from the fund. While we couldn’t grant every application, 84% were successful in receiving funding and broke down into these categories: 11 virtual tours; 6 library apps; 4 LMS upgrades. Thank you to all the services who took the time to submit applications.”
  • Cyber attack on British Library raises concerns over lack of UK resilience – Financial Times. “Cyber-intelligence experts warned the incursion highlighted under-investment in cyber resilience by the government, particularly in critical infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and local authorities.” … “In a post on the dark web and seen by the Financial Times, the hackers released low-resolution images of British Library employees’ passports and opened bidding for an undisclosed set of documents at 20 bitcoin, equivalent to almost £600,000.”
  • Dagger in the Library  – CWA. Public librarians invited to nominate crime writers for the library-specific award and also to ask their borrowers too. [I am Chair of Judges for this and so I know we’re looking for a judge from a Welsh public library too – do let me know if you are interested, thank you – Ed.]
  • Play the Hidden Books Game – National Book Tokens. A welcome game returns. “Guess all 20 book titles in our virtual bookshop to win a £500/€500 National Book Token to spend in your favourite bookshops”
  • ‘Malorie Blackman: The Power of Stories’ opens at the British Library – British Library [press release]. “Malorie Blackman OBE said: ‘Libraries are the great equaliser and, without them, literacy would become the province of the lucky few, rather than the birthright of everyone. I wouldn’t be a writer if it wasn’t for my local library, and I hope this exhibition – in the national library of the UK – shows that every child has the right to be seen and need to be heard in literature.’”

  • Staying warm this winter – Arts Professional. “As winter approaches, with energy bills remaining stubbornly high, Libraries Connected Chief Executive Isobel Hunter says the Warm Welcome Campaign is more relevant than ever.” … “During the Christmas holidays, some libraries were even able to provide hot food, games and festive gifts for children. “This library is a lifesaver,” one parent told staff at a library in Sandwell, West Midlands. “If it wasn’t for the library over the holidays, I was scared the kids would go hungry. They’ve come here, had a hot drink and something to eat and gone home with a full belly.””
  • Which public services will suffer most to pay for Tory tax cuts? – Guardian. “Libraries and other council services “likely to face another five years of real-terms cuts” after Autumn Statement.” see also Hunt’s new wave of austerity ‘will hit social care, libraries and swimming pools’ – I. “The Chancellor has spent all the financial headroom, Home Office official says”

International news

  • Canada -Montreal bylaw to allow libraries to kick out unhygienic patrons – Global News. “Those who have “personal hygiene which inconveniences other users or the personnel,” will have to exit the public space upon request, a controversial public notice reveals. Sam Watts from the Welcome Hall Mission suggested to Global News that the City of Montreal was targeting “vulnerable” patrons, like those experience homelessness, and instead, should make efforts to create “solutions” for struggling individuals.”
  • China / Hong Kong – Can Hong Kong libraries win back readers? Public facilities try every trick in the book to lose ‘boring’ label amid rise of e-texts, pandemic habits – South China Morning Post. Reading printed books and library usage has fallen since pandemic, in line with other countries. Libraries reducing restrictions on sound and use of phones to win back users.
  • Czechia – Czech library on activities and clubs for children – NAPLE Sister Libraries. ““Czech small- and middle-sized libraries often aim at youngest children, and it is a good way to go, raising future readers and library visitors,” comments Jitka Šedinová, director of Municipal Library Semily. “However, in today’s society, we perceive the urgent need to pay attention to our 10+ year olds and teenagers; to provide them with space where they can safely spend their free time, and fill this time with fine, cool activities. And to do so, it is necessary to actually have the space and qualified staff, not to mention funds to cover all of that.””
  • Singapore – The Big Read in short: How Singapore’s public libraries survived the digital onslaught – Today Online. “…  public libraries here are seeing increased number of visitors and plans are afoot to continuously rejuvenate and expand existing libraries; the five-storey Punggol Regional Library also opened its doors in April 2023″ … Apart from shifting their services online, libraries have also redesigned their physical spaces to go beyond being mainly repositories of books. Such moves — including opening a new Children’s Biodiversity Library in January next year — are also seen as important to attract young users and cultivate a love for reading and learning”
  • USA – #VelshiBannedBookClub: Libraries Under Attack – MSNBC. ““There’s more than one way to ban a book.” We, as a nation, have set a dangerous precedent that worldview, misreading, and taste are enough to dictate what literature is accessible to our children and what literature is castaway and censored. What is the outcome? A generation of children shaped by one view, one reading, and one specific palate. That is not America. That is not freedom. The remedy? Support libraries. That is where literature can freely exist. The President of American Library Association joins the Velshi Banned Book Club on the importance of libraries.”
    • The Bigot in the Library – Wire. “As we chatted a bit more about how polarised society is, the lady said to me, “You know, if only Muslims were eradicated from the world, all our problems would be solved.”
    • Public Libraries – ProQuest / Music Library Association. A look at the history and current practice of music librarians in the USA.
    • S.F. libraries give these books out for free — and they’re flying off the shelves – San Francisco Chronicle. “…  visitors can now find a collection of texts that are intended to help those who want to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. They’re free for anyone to take, no library card required.”

Local news by authority

  • Blaenau Gwent – Council hubs in Blaenau Gwent libraries welcomed as a ‘win-win’ – South Wales Argus. “calls have been made to increase the opening hours at some hubs to allow greater access to council services.”. All Welsh Public library standards have been met. “In June 2021, the council opened community hubs in the libraries to help provide council services. Cllr Dai Davies said: “I think locating the hubs in the libraries has worked really well on both sides, Aneurin Leisure Trust and the council work really well together.””
  • Bristol Bristol libraries hire security to tackle rowdy teenagers causing trouble – Bristol Post. “Some libraries in Bristol have hired security guards to tackle rowdy teenagers causing trouble during the school holidays. Libraries have had to shut or change their opening hours to deter anti-social behaviour which has put off some people from going there.” … “Another issue is a stark gap between how much libraries are used in different parts of Bristol. Computer usage is much higher in libraries in wealthier areas than poorer parts of the city, and ‘friends of’ groups supporting the libraries exist in places like Clifton, Westbury and Bishopston but not in others such as Avonmouth, Bishopsworth or Hartcliffe.”. Story covered in BBC, Daily Express , ITV and Daily Mail.
  • Bromley – Orpington librarian appointed children’s libraries national chair – GLL [press release]. “Jenny Hawke, GLL’s Children’s Librarian at Orpington Library, Bromley has been appointed as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) National Youth Libraries Group.”
  • Calderdale – Halifax residents are asked to share their Second World War memories at Central Library event – Halifax Courier. “… nationwide campaign organised by Their Finest Hour, a team based at the University of Oxford and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is collecting and preserving the everyday stories and objects of the Second World War”
  • Cheshire East – Library opening hours to change from December  – Cheshire East Council. ” following ‘top-up’ funding from Crewe and Nantwich town councils for services in their areas, 31 hours per week of library opening time has been reinstated across the borough at sites where usage and demand is greatest.” … “The council is still inviting expressions of interest from town and parish councils to explore ways of working together to deliver library services in their area”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – So Many New Activities Coming to Neston Library – About My Area. Child yoga, English Conversation Group, Lego group, reading group.
    • Parking charges in Cheshire West to be hiked by as much as two thirds – Cheshire Live. “We as a Labour administration in Cheshire West and Chester have said we will protect leisure centres and libraries at all costs; because, once you start closing leisure centres and libraries you’re on a slippery slope, and your focus on health and wellbeing goes straight out the window”
  • Denbighshire – Library cuts in Denbighshire will ‘impact the vulnerable’ – Free Press. “Denbighshire County Council is proposing a 50 per cent reduction to the opening hours of all eight of the county’s Libraries and One Stop Shops.  A consultation on the plans came to a close on October 30.”
  • Derbyshire – Library of the year award for Derbyshire library – Derbyshire Council. “Ripley Library, in the town’s Grosvenor Road, was announced as the winner of the prestigious Library/Librarian of the Year category at the RNA’s Winter Party and Industry Awards ceremony, which was held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City on Monday 13 November 2023. The RNA’s annual awards “celebrate the hard work and talent of any person, group or organisation who has championed the broad genre of romantic fiction in a positive way”.”
  • Devon – Mobile libraries axed by cash-strapped DCC – Dawlish Today.
  • Edinburgh – Blackhall Library to remain closed – for now – Edinburgh Reporter. “An Edinburgh library is to remain closed for the foreseeable future after it was discovered the ‘entire roof’ contains potentially dangerous crumbling concrete.”
  • Glasgow – “Your ticket to the whole world”: 8 of the best libraries in Glasgow – Glasgow World. “Billy Connolly has always been passionate about libraries and reading having once said: “When I was an unhappy little boy, going to the library changed my life. It may even have saved it. Amazing as it sounds, literature can do that for you. Books are your ticket to the whole world. They’re a free ticket to the entire earth.” To celebrate The Big Yin’s 81st birthday, we’ve put together a list of some of the best libraries in Glasgow which you have to visit.”
  • Hampshire – Extra consultation on Hampshire County Council library cuts plan – Petersfield Post. “The council’s financial strategy for 2025-26 was approved on November 9 but there will be more consultation on proposals to save £200,000 from its £1.2 million annual budget for buying new books and digital items such as eBooks, eAudiobooks and ePress for libraries.”
  • Haringey – Highgate Library reopening delayed by Haringey Council – Times Series. “the reopening was postponed for last-minute changes to the plans by Haringey Council, made after a public consultation had taken place.”
  • Lancashire – Visit your local library now to enjoy a warm space and a warmer welcome – Lancashire Council. “Three men all came into the library separately and sat on the sofa with a drink. After speaking with each man individually they started to attend events such the drop in café, Memories and Melodies, games afternoon and Chaps Who Chat. All three men admitted to feeling a bit isolated and were looking to meet other likeminded people.”
  • Norfolk – Fakenham library has reopening delayed to next year – Fakenham and Wells Times. “The Oak Street building, which has been closed since October 9, is having a number of works carried out on it, including; the gas boiler system replaced, the installation of new internal and cavity wall insulation, re-roofing to incorporate roof insulation, replacement atrium windows, a new mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system and new LED low energy lighting. “
  • North Ayrshire – Citizens Advice energy help at North Ayrshire libraries – Largs and Millport Weekly News. ” … trained Citizens Advice advisers can help through free and confidential appointments throughout North Ayrshire.”
  • North Northamptonshire – Students with learning disabilities to run library – BBC. “The trust runs four schools in Northamptonshire and one in Luton for children with a range of learning disabilities. Students aged 18 to 25 from Creating Tomorrow College will work alongside volunteers from RCLT to run the site. Peter Wathen, chairman of RCLT, said: “Raunds Community Library trustees and our marvellous team of volunteers look forward to an exciting future.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Sherwood: £20million investment to transform Ollerton with town centre hub planned – West Bridgford Wire. Possible Levelling Up Fund money has two projects, the first may “… see a new public sector hub with services of the Town and District Council’s complemented by a brand-new state-of-the-art library, boutique cinema, and new commercial units”
  • Plymouth – Libraries begin coat donation and pick-up scheme – BBC. “The Donate A Coat scheme has been launched in four libraries in Plymouth. The collection and drop-off of coats is anonymous, with no questions asked”. Resident says “”I think this is a brilliant idea. I wish I’d have thought of the idea myself because so many people are in dire need right now.””
  • Renfrewshire – Inside Paisley’s new £7 million library – and there are Daleks in attendance – Herald Scotland. “After a £7 million refurbishment, the new central library facility will open in the middle of the town’s High Street at the end of the month and there will be plenty on offer no matter whether the reader is human or mutant. The reading hub boasts a children’s library with play structure designed by a celebrated Scottish artist, digital spaces with public computer terminals helps the centre reach a 21st century audience and an outdoor terrace for sunny days.”
  • Shropshire – Library to be closed for two weeks – but no fine for late books – Shropshire Star. “The closure is required to put new shelving in. An update from the library said: “Due to the installation of new shelving funded by the Friends of Church Stretton Library …”
  • Stoke on TrentStoke-on-Trent Libraries secure £88,000 from Know Your Neighbourhood Fund – Stoke on Trent Council. “The ambition is to set up the following volunteer-run groups that will be supported by library staff: A perinatal support group for new parents which runs from pregnancy right through to 12 months post-partum; A support group for fathers; A bereavement support group that will provide a safe space to meet other people who have experienced loss or who are facing the possibility of loss”
    • Little Dragons Club to take flight at Stoke-on-Trent Libraries – Stoke on Trent Council. “on signing up children will receive a Little Dragon Club passport, bookmark and a badge. Each time children attend one of Stoke-on-Trent’s free weekly Singing Bears, Bouncing Bears or Story Bears sessions or borrow books from the library they will be able to collect a special stamp in their passport.”. Tote bag includes as one prize. “For every 6 stamps a child collects in their passport they will receive a certificate congratulating them on their achievement and encouraging them to come to more sessions and borrow more books.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries PAWS-itivity dogs find their forever homes – Suffolk Libraries. “Suffolk Libraries’ biggest-ever fundraising campaign, PAWS-itivity, culminated in a successful fundraising auction at Trinity Park last month which raised over £26,000. Around 40 dog sculptures dubbed the ‘Library Labradors’ all featuring designs individually created by local artists were auctioned on 12 October. A few weeks later and with the dog sculptures all having found new homes, many can still be seen in public and enjoyed across the county. ”
    • Suffolk Libraries to hold ‘Power of Libraries’ conference for schools – Suffolk Libraries. “This free conference is open to all school staff with an interest in developing a culture of reading for pleasure. It is also an ideal opportunity for school librarians, English leads and leaders looking to invest in their school library and make connections with Suffolk Libraries.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwickshire Libraries unveils service’s first electric-powered vehicle at celebration event for library volunteers – Warwickshire Council. “libraries service is becoming more sustainable with the introduction of a new van, powered entirely by electricity, for the Home Library Service fleet.”
  • Westmorland and Furness – Over 200 angry protesters turn out to ‘save’ Ulverston library – The Mail. “Around 200 angry protesters waved banners and placards following its closure by Westmorland and Furness Council earlier this year over electrical issues. The protest was arranged by Labour Parliamentary candidate for Barrow and Furness Michelle Scrogham. She requested an electrical report Under the Freedom of Information Act and said many who viewed the report have struggled to see how the faults listed would amount to the £500,000 repair bill being discussed.”

A Poole of Talent

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Congratulations to Nick Poole who has announced he will become the Chief Executive of the trade association for UK video games in April. Nick, if you don’t know what “games as a service”, “freemium”, “Pay to win” and, oh my goodness, “loot boxes” are, I pity you. But assuming you do know these things, well done that man. Nick, Chief Executive of CILIP, has done a tremendous amount for public libraries in campaigning for them and generally making CILIP useful for the sector. Before he came, my memory at least was that CILIP was in the doldrums, refusing to criticise the Government even in the height of Austerity and suffering from self-inflicted wounds such as planning to rename itself, I kid you not, ILPUK. Nick did away with all that, with grace and professionalism. Thank you, Nick.

And, oh my, did I mention the height of Austerity. Well, everyone, let’s welcome back David Cameron into the Cabinet. Good grief. There was even an article I read this morning from his friend Ed Vaizey speculating how he got on. Remember Ed? A notorious Libraries Minister but at least one who stuck around for a few years so people got to know how bad he was. Unlike the current ones, who appear to have difficulty lasting more than twelve months. Yep, I’m going all nostalgic over Ed. Good grief again. That’s also possibly because times are feeling a bit deja vu at the moment. There’s lots of councils worrying about cut budgets and looking at libraries as a possible solution. Hmm, sounds familiar. But some things have changed – CILIP is now an experienced campaigning voice and Libraries Connected is now up and running, effective and useful. And I suspect cutting libraries will be harder this time. Especially with just one year of the current Government remaining. One can hope.

Now back to gaming and let’s see if there’s anything good in this next loot box …

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 25,000 publisher donated books sent to Ukraine – Book Aid. “The books on this shipment should reach Kyiv in November. From there, PEN Ukraine will distribute them to libraries across Ukraine, including to frontline and liberated territories.”
  • Creating Safer Libraries – Libraries Connected. “We want libraries to be safe, supportive environments for everyone. To underpin this libraries
    need clear, enforceable policies and consistent, informed support from their local authority and
    the police. That firm back-stop needs to be balanced with training for staff that gives them the
    confidence to address disruptive behaviour and, where possible, the ability to engage with and
    turn potentially challenging behaviour into something more constructive.”
  • Dagger in the Library – CWA. “This year, we want UK and Irish libraries – and their users – to propose names of crime writers to be listed for the award, before we get to the voting stage.”

“We need your input! This year the Crime Writers’ Association is running the prestigious Dagger in the Library award a little differently. While in January we’ll get to the stage where we want you to nominate crime writers from a list (three votes per library, as per usual, via our website and to be made by 29 February 2024), first of all we want your help in compiling that list of crime writers. So, please would you email us names of crime writers who you think should be on the list to vote for Dagger in the Library this year? You’re very welcome – encouraged in fact! – to consult your borrowers!”

CWA
  • Open Access Libraries – Libraries Connected. “Many services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland offer a mixed model of service delivery including a variety of ways in which access to library services, eg extending access through partnerships, volunteers, and the use of technology. This guidance notice focuses on some of the key considerations for library services exploring the use of technology to extend access for residents and communities to their local library.”
  • Nick Poole to step down as CEO of CILIP – CILIP. ” Nick has personally overseen … delivery of key initiatives including the launch of CILIP’s refreshed Code of Ethics, the Changing Lives programme promoting inclusive, participatory and socially-engaged library and knowledge services, and the Arts Council England-funded Managing Safe and Inclusive Library Services: A Practical Guide. An exceptional advocate for the profession, Nick has enabled CILIP to move to a more proactive ‘campaigning’ approach to advocacy, political and media relations, launching a series of highly successful initiatives. These include: #FactsMatter, Great School Libraries, and the joint CILIP-NHS #AMillionDecision campaign. A real thought-leader, Nick led the team which saw the successful launch of the UK’s first-ever Green Libraries Campaign …”
  • The Reading Agency and the Youth Sport Trust invite children on a winter reading adventure – Reading Agency. “The Winter Mini Challenge will launch on 1 December and run until 19 February”
  • Universal Library Offers calendar – Libraries Connected. For 2024.

International news

“Measuring outcomes of public library services can be difficult. But outcomes data is essential to keep funders (like local government) happy. EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) Impact Manager Ugne Lipeikaite provides pointers for how to measure library service outcomes.”
  • Canada – Meet Katja, RDPL’s Facility Dog in Training – Princh. Chocolate labrador: “she is not attached to just one person but rather is here for the facility to enrich the library’s services and programs for the public.”
  • Ireland – Welcome to Library Ireland Week 2023 – Library Ireland. “Library Ireland Week will take place from Sunday 3rd December to Saturday 9th December 2023! It’s time to plan events, activities and social media campaigns celebrating libraries and library staff. The theme for the week is ‘Libraries are for Everyone’ #LIW23 @LAIonline”
  • Retiring Wicklow librarian hails Irish service as one of ‘most progressive in the world’ – Irish Independent. “You hear stories about funding being cut in England or America, and depending on where you are, the quality of library services greatly differs … I’ve learned from members of the Arklow Library English chat group that libraries in places like Spain and Brazil just don’t do what we’re doing. They’re more old-fashioned, a ‘this is where you get your books and be quiet’ kind of thing.”
  • Japan – ‘What You are Looking For is in the Library’: A tender tale with a touch of whimsy – Japan Times. “Set in the fictional ward of Hatori in Tokyo, Michiko Aoyama’s novel “What You are Looking For Is in the Library” is centered on the library in a local community center. The narrative unfolds from the perspective of five characters who, while not explicitly unhappy, yearn for change yet feel stymied in their efforts. None of them are really sure of what they are searching for — until they find themselves in the presence of enigmatic librarian Sayuri Komachi, that is.”
  • Morocco – State of public libraries in Morocco – Emerald. Behind paywall. “Public libraries in Morocco face various issues such as lack of available data and research, lack of appropriate funds, education in the field of library and information sciences, low rate of reading culture within the country and the high rate of illiteracy, all of which obstruct the development of Moroccan librarianship. There is a necessary reform need and action in order to help in the development of libraries in the country.”
USA – Beautiful library, worth a look just for the envy factor
  • Op-Ed: How to Create Libraries of the Future  – Urbanist. Scarily, number one is “Strengthen library facilities for extreme weather events.”. Others are: double down on community activation; plan for future capital bonds; build safe walking, biking, and transit connections between library facilities and other major destinations; shifting key performance indicators to figures which represent engagement per day and per location and per program; stabilize funding streams.
  • This Week In Libraries – Publishers Weekly. New York libraries budget cuts; strong push for censorship in several states; Scholastic book fairs being attacked for including books some people don’t agree with; increasing number of people (especially the young) getting their news from Tik-Tok [! – Editor].

Local news by authority

“On your watch Cllr Hart you have thrown money at fancy refurbishments and privatisation and at the same time you have cut opening hours, turned library assistants into “customer service assistants” and cut the book stock. We constantly hear from you and Cllr Croad that you have not closed any libraries but what you done is hollow out the libraries. And anyway mobile libraries are libraries so let’s shout it out so everyone knows – you have closed eight libraries (four in 2011 and four now).”

Comment on Mid Week Herald article
  • Dorset – Dorset Council takes next steps in modernising libraries – Dorset Echo. “This stage of the council’s library strategy is aiming to ensure employees feel ‘valued and empowered’ with career opportunities made available to them. It will develop flexible resourcing across its library network to allow staff to develop a range of skills and experiences.”

“This report is misleading at the very least. As a library assistant I can confirm that we are facing redundancy and being forced to reapply for our jobs. There is no protection for those on permanent contracts over fixed term. The majority of staff are women over 50 on part-time posts and this is not being considered in the proposed new hours. We have been told that our new jobs are not in the council’s flexible working, and therefore go against current council policy. We have no say in our roles, we are all expected to be clones of each other in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, again not following council policy. Zero hours and Casual posts are being got rid of, and all staff are now expected to travel to other libraries and have the use of a car regardless of any disabilities or mobility issues. And we can’t even have a say in which libraries we can realistically travel to. There is no scope for career progression or specialism.” Dorset – Comment on news story

From the heart: Public Libraries News restarts

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Yeah, it’s been a while since my last post. Back in late April I was walking the dogs before going to work, rushed as always, when I had a heart attack. This greatly annoyed my dogs as it meant their walk was cut short. Thankfully, I got back to the house before my wife left for work, meaning she was able to call 999, an ambulance came immediately, I was operated on in an hour and walking again the next day. Thank heavens for the NHS.

Recovery took way longer than I thought, with me coming back to work on phased return in late August’ me having to cancel a lot of my hobbies (pantomime being the main one) and the dogs getting even more annoyed at the lack of walking. Thankfully, I have recovered enough now to do Public Libraries News again. Obviously, I’ve missed half a year so it’s going to take a while to catch up on that. This post is just the last week. What I will do is just update for changes and ideas. If anyone would like to help, and thank you to one kind volunteer already, I can send you the daily Google Alerts – as few as you like – to check for me. But it will be done. Because this website, and public libraries generally, have a firm place in my heart, however dodgy that organ may prove to be in other ways.

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Changes by local authority

National news

“The key driver of the REVEAL project is the premise that the “why” of what libraries do every day and the ethical values that underpin that work is fundamental to an effective advocacy strategy for the profession.”

REVEAL: Reinforcing Ethics and Values for Effective Advocacy for Libraries – CILIPS. ” a review of the key concepts related to advocacy, ethics, and values, the project outputs also include the ten-video series below and other materials such as infographics to support the themes explored. All materials are made available free for use …”

  • Why are libraries hiding gender-critical books? – Spiked. Free Speech Union writer says “Does being a gender-critical writer put you on par with Hitler? According to Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire, the answer is yes.”. Article says CILIP “is now pushing a form of soft censorship as part of its guidance to libraries across the country.” … “The last thing the public needs are more patronising attempts to police what we read.”

International news

Ukraine

Local news by authority

Barnsley

At least it means

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Editorial

The usual repeat story of censorship in libraries is again in the news, with reports on protests to library staff over stock and events plus also the move in the British Library to tag books which may be politically incorrect at the date of tagging. I now remember somewhat fondly those innocent years when librarians could put what they thought was needed on the shelves without worrying about offending someone or being complained about. At least it means that people take what librarians do seriously I guess, although I could have done without the horribly one-sided report on GB News, though, included below.

Otherwise it’s been a quiet and indeed positive week, at least on the surface, with no less than three new libraries in the news. OK, none of them are big, at least one is volunteer staffed and one is community-owned but you can’t have everything I guess. Well, not people taking what you do for granted anyway.

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Changes by local authority

Ideas

National news

  • Calling all bookworms: Manchester is hosting a festival of libraries – Time Out. “Thought the library was dead? Think again. Footfall might have depleted over the last two decades, but a significant number of our public libraries remain alive and well”
  • Councils warned over library cutbacks after staff reductions – Herald Scotland. “New figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, reveal that the number of library staff in Scotland has dropped from 1,462 full-time equivalent workers in 2017-18 to just 1,306 by 2021-22. The data comes from the 24 out of 32 Scottish local authorities that provided responses to the requests.” … “Scotland’s Culture Minister has warned local councils to think “extremely carefully” before rolling out cutbacks to libraries after it was revealed the number of library staff has fallen since 2017.”
  • ‘For the first time ever, I worry about doing drag gigs’ – BBC. ““Drag Story Hour looks exactly like any other [event] you would see at a library,” says Jonathan Hamlit, Drag Story Hour’s executive director in the US. “But the reader may look a little more fabulous than your average librarian.”” … “This level of violence has not been seen in the UK, but there have also been protests around drag storytelling events. “Last summer we had over 60 events [in the UK],” says Sab. “Only one of them didn’t have any aggressive people outside shouting at me.””
“To work in a library has always been considered a dull and boring job” … “Are librarians insulting the intelligence of the British public?” … “Obviously this is a waste of money”. GB News covers the British Library decision to flag potentially socially unacceptable terms in their own inimitably unbiased way.
  • Third of UK librarians asked to censor or remove books, research reveals – Guardian. “Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip), the UK’s library and information association, found that a third of librarians had been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books, indicating that such incidences “had increased significantly in recent years”, according to Cilip’s chief executive, Nick Poole. The most targeted books involve empire, race and LGBTQ+ themes.” … “Cilip is in the process of updating the national guidance for librarians in managing stock, spaces, events and activities.” … ” “No librarian should ever be in fear of their wellbeing or safety as a result of doing their job for the public.””
  • Tom Gauld on creating the perfect library – cartoon – Guardian. “Leave?”
  • Why we should (sort of) abolish the poet laureate – Varsity. “We do need someone to stand in solidarity with poetry, but we don’t need them standing on the monarchy’s shoulders. If poetry needs a face, it should be a fresh one.” It should be poetry for the sake of poetry, and for the sake of the people” … ” laureates should take their cues from librarians, not the King”

International news

Local news by authority

This one’s for you, Baroness Sanderson

Editorial

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Baroness Elizabeth Sanderson is the chair of a new advisory panel that will inform the Government’s new public library strategy this year. Elizabeth, a life peer, although described as “independent”, sits on the Conservative benches, has advised Theresa May and has, well, before been a Mail on Sunday journalist for seventeen years. Given that is the case, and being it’s not an alternative universe, any advice to her has to be made being aware that there won’t be any significant extra funding (that is, more than is taken away via budget cuts) for library services. In addition, localism and lack or regulation are very much still the flavour of the month, so any proposals which require large amounts of money or new rules are not likely to be accepted. With all that in mind, here are my thoughts, on the understanding that if this was for someone in a government of a different colour, they would be very different:

  • A strategy that deals with attempts at censorship both in terms of stock and events. We’re seeing increasing attempts, especially by those on the fringe (anti-vaxxers, religious extremists) and others to stop anything too LGBT in the sector. It would be useful to have some thought on how to respond to such attacks. After all, even the Times, is questioning whether we’d prefer children to have advice from Pornhub instead.
  • The fines-free movement has, from being almost unknown in 2018, taken off at speed in the UK with 71 services now no longer charging money for late books. However, this is heavily skewed towards Scotland (two-thirds), Northern Ireland (all) and Wales (half) compared to just to a quarter in England. Encouragement to push for all library services to be fines-free would be good as this would be instantly popular, promote equality and, crucially, not result in huge extra costs. However, being budgets are very strict, some thought needs to be given to account for the small percentage of funding that they do bring in.
  • Back up the current law about all areas having a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. In addition, the lack of any actual standards for English public libraries is a bit embarrassing. I know this is the most unlikely of the suggestions to be carried out in practice but, remember, closing libraries is not a popular vote-winner.
  • Libraries Connected has proven to be a big success in sharing best practice and encouraging responses to challenges (e.g. Covid) on a national level. It needs to be continued.
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  • Libraries are a brilliant springboard for lending and providing information for others e.g. NHS information and heart monitors, covid tests. A push for this to be known to all government and agency services, to make it a case of think library first and only if that’s not possible create your own (expensive, reinvention of wheel) service instead would be good. This may both save money and provide extra funding for libraries.
  • Usage is changing since Covid but not declining. The big change is a sustained increase of e-lending. Some thought as to how services should pay for these as well as for printed stock would be useful as well as a way of encouraging publishers to reduce their (often inflated) library e-book prices and encourage all publishers to allow library lending.
  • A lot of libraries need refurbishment. This is especially true in the children’s areas, which are often too small compared to the adult areas and not exciting enough. The Libraries Improvement Fund has been a success in providing capital investment (rather than soon-forgotten events) to libraries and should be maintained and hopefully expanded.
  • A national public library website, LibraryOn, is being tested and will one day become public. This needs to be as public (rather than librarian) focused as possible, with some way of allowing minimum-clicks-needed access to finding book titles both in print and e-book form. It should also be maintained long-term.

That’s enough, for now, Baroness. Let me know if you want to know or are curious as to what I’d suggest if legislation, enforcement or funding are options.

Changes by local authority

Ideas

National news

International news

  • Colombia Of libraries, ruralities, and mycelia – Medium. ” the greatest value of libraries lies in how tremendously adaptable they can be. But their success depends on us. It depends on us removing stereotypes from our heads and limits from our eyes and hands, and being able to see mycelia where others see closed rooms and ordered shelves.”
  • Denmark – Children, reading culture and libraries: Building blocks for a better future – Christian Lauersen. “Being a Children’s Librarian is a crusade for a better future for us all.” We had four criteria for the new Children’s Library: it should not be made for children but with children; it should not be a playground – it should be a universe for stories, imagination, curiosity and community and a place where children and their families could meet books and library staff in an inspiring and inclusive environment; on a functional level it should be flexible and be able to hold different kind of activities; The collection should be made accessible from a children’s logic – not a librarian’s logic”
  • European Union – Recommendation on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe – EBLIDA. “This Recommendation reinforces active citizenship in a democratic environment and, beyond culture and education, focusses on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. It also reinforces the social dimension of libraries and their commitment towards a sustainable, democratic and equitable society.”
  • Global – Where does the Cardigan-wearing Librarian Stereotype come from? – Book Riot. Pre 1800s librarians mainly men (seen as “fussy”) then female-dominated from 19th Century. “because mostly unmarried women were the ones joining the workforce due to demographic shifts and societal changes, the spinster old maid stereotype was born”. Librarians seen as fearsome and libraries are, well, cold.
  • Ireland – ‘Not the country I left’: Cork man working in UK’s oldest LGBT bookshop proud of changed Ireland – Echo. “Amid the difficult period, however, staff are believed to be receiving overwhelming support in the form of everything from bouquets to letters and chocolates from members of the public who oppose the protests. And now, Ballinlough native Jim MacSweeney who is the manager of Gay’s The Word, in London, the UK’s longest-running LGBT bookshop, has also sent words of support from overseas.”
  • New Zealand – Libraries branching out for community wellbeing – NZ Herald. “Public libraries help local government enhance community wellbeing by fostering networks, providing spaces for people to gather and share knowledge and adapting services to respond to community needs.”. Incorporating Maori language “extremely important” … “The research noted that in an ideal future, libraries would be neutral safe spaces that anyone in the community could access. Libraries should be involved in local and national decision-making, and receive national funds.

Local news by authority

“We would struggle to take the tea and coffee away in some of those venues now. I think it is a service that has been introduced that is very popular.”

Andrew Olney, Glasgow Life director of libraries, sport and communities
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A rainbow of different library services

Editorial

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One of the many fascinating things about public libraries is that they’re so very diverse. In the UK, and in many other parts of the world, each library service (or the council or other body that controls it) is effectively its own kingdom, with its own rules and norms. This is shown by variation in even neighbouring services: requirements to join (normally one of three, with no evidence of a connection between it and theft rates – none, one, two including proof of address), fines (from, increasingly, none, to sky’s the limit), number of loans (anything from normally 6 or 8 to limitless), stock (size and composition), how to loan (self-service or staffed), size of library per thousand population, staffing (staffless, unpaid, paid but none professionally qualified, etc). Really, there’s no end to it. Moreover, each individual library within a service often has its own character, depending on neighbourhood, building and even the personalities of those working there. And, of course, in England even more diverse. After all, England quite literally has no standards when it comes to libraries. Which means that the individual library offer can appear pretty darn random at times.

So it’s not surprising that an organisation like GLL/Better has wide variations, even in one week of news. Recent statistics and surveys reported by GLL shows its libraries to have some of the highest usage in England along with high satisfaction rates. On the other hand, the situation in Dudley – which it runs on behalf of the council there – is looking pretty dire. The council is looking to cut it so much that only 2 or 3 of the current 13 libraries may still be open in three years. It’s worthwhile pointing out that this has nothing to do with GLL – it’s the council that decides these things – but still it’s interesting how different things can be even within services run by the same organisation. And it’s a reminder that diversity represents a rainbow, from the brightest to the darkest colours.

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Changes by local authority

Ideas

National news

International news

  • Australia – Toy libraries becoming more popular as parents borrow in bid to beat cost-of-living pressures – ABC News. “There are more than 380 registered toy libraries across the country, with an estimated 130,000 members”
  • Canada – Okanagan Regional Library receives $1.6 million from province – Penticton Western News. “The funds are part of $45 million the province has earmarked for libraries throughout B.C., funding which was announced March 24. All 71 B.C. public libraries, and organizations that help libraries deliver their services, will receive one-time grants in addition to their annual operating funding. This aims to give libraries flexibility to address local priorities including longer hours, bigger digital collections and better access to literacy and lifelong learning opportunities.”
  • Global – The technology career ladder – Lorcan Dempsey. “Library leaders should be drawn from across the organization. Any idea that technology leaders are overly specialised or too distant from general library work is outmoded and counter-productive.” Academic library focused but some relevant points.
    • Public libraries are critical social infrastructure – Press Reader. “Contemporary libraries are the lifeline for communities in times of crisis. But as sociologist Eric Klinenberg noted in the New York Times, libraries are criticized and abandoned at the exact moment when they are most needed because “the founding principle of the public library — that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage — is out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world. It’s also because so few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities.”

“I’m so saddened that this level of behaviour has now perpetrated Irish public libraries. But I am also not wholly shocked as despite a massive change in public attitudes to LGBTQIA+ rights, and bodily autonomy from when I grew up there in the 80s and 90s, there is still a religious and conservative undercurrent that has more influence than people realise. I am also disgusted that librarians are being targeted, as librarianship was always seen as a respected profession in Ireland – far more so than in the UK. I found that out very quickly to my huge disappointment when I moved here. I am proud of the librarians who are standing up for young people’s access to material but angered that the councils are hiding behind parental consent beyond the initial sign up. No-one ever policed my choice of books growing up in the library. Outside of it though, I remember the uproar in primary school of us sharing Judy Blume books secretly through the senior classes. They treated her books like moral semtex. Hiding and culling books on LGBTQIA issues entrenches shame and limits young people from accepting their whole selves. That’s what it used to be like in Ireland when church and state controlled the narrative. We can’t go back there again.”

Email about the current attempts at censorship in Irish libraries received

Local news by authority

  • Dudley – Waterstones Children’s Laureate to visit Stourbridge Library – Stourbridge News. “Coelho is set to visit and join a library in every local authority in the UK”
    • Fears raised about the future of Dudley’s libraries – Dudley News. “Dudley Council has proposed nearly £1.5 million in savings on library services over the next few years.” … opposition says ““With the additional £1 million paid to GLL in 2021, the library contract has cost the council £4,230,000 since 2017, but it has not achieved the projected savings and the number of library users have declined significantly due to GLL’s mismanagement.””
  • Greenwich – Record numbers of visitors to South London libraries ranked busiest in the UK – London News Online. “Residents are making the most of the 12 libraries in Greenwich, the borough ranking as the location with the most visits compared to its population.  Woolwich Centre Library also stood out nationally by being the second busiest library in the UK. 547,440 people walked through its doors between 2020 and 2021.”
  • Gwynedd – Gwynedd Libraries Service announces vision for next five years – In Your Area. VR Hubs plus “Development of the Library of Things – People can borrow useful things for their homes and more, for example, tools, electrical items and toys. It saves money and is less harmful to the environment than buying new and using only once. The library, known as Petha, will be available at the Dyffryn Ogwen, Penygroes and Blaenau Ffestiniog Libraries. Improving Penygroes Library – Thanks to the grant from the Welsh Government Transformation Capital Grant Scheme, the space at Penygroes
    Library will be improved and improvements at the Dyffryn Ogwen library will also include a new wellbeing garden.”
  • Hertfordshire – Cuffley Community Library Open Day – Hertfordshire Council. First year anniversary of volunteers. “We are proud to celebrate our achievements over the past year and have a special day planned that will appeal to all our visitors”
  • Kent – 200 protest to save Folkestone Library – Socialist Party. “Local activists spread the word for a protest and within 24 hours of the call, a demonstration of around 120 people gathered outside the library demanding that it must be kept open. Anger against the threatened closure has spread quickly, shown by the support for the ‘Save Folkestone Library’ Facebook page.” … “We decided that the pressure must be maintained and so we called another demonstration and rally. Over 200 people, mums and children, young and old, marched …”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire Libraries are supporting voters to be election ready – Lancashire Council. “Lancashire Libraries will be offering trained staff to help people navigate the voting application process. Voters who require support when registering to vote can visit their local library. Staff will be available to help people access the website and apply. Support is also being offered by libraries across Lancashire to help voters complete their Voter Authority Certificate application. An appointment may be required in advance.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool libraries where children discovered their love of books – Liverpool Echo. Old photographs of people using libraries 1960s to 1980s.

Aberdeen getting worse but otherwise we’re getting Beta

Editorial

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It’s not often that I get to report on Scottish public library closures. This is because, well, there aren’t that many Scottish library closures. Aberdeen, however, is bucking the trend by closing six libraries, despite sizeable opposition. The amount of money saved is £280k. Meanwhile, the same council is putting an art installation in, right next to a closing library, for £155k. So, there’s priorities for you. The new First Minister of Scotland had, as one of his first duties, the need to respond to why this happened with a SNP council in charge of Aberdeen. His response was not overly reassuring.

In other news, the beta version of LibraryOn is now open for people to look at. It’s hard to tell with such things and unfair to give an opinion on an unfinished product so I will refrain from commenting on it yet.

The normal madness in US libraries is continuing, with Republicans now trying to withdraw funding from public libraries because there’s some fight back over censoring stock. This, as Judy Blume notes this week, is a dark time for America and is downright embarrassing to look at. Great also to see Wil Wheaton getting in on the act. Not embarrassing at all, though, is a nice new library song to have a listen to. I’m also loving the Somerset idea of lending out activity monitoring watches.

Changes by local authority

Ideas

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National news

  • BFI Replay – BFI. “BFI Replay is a free-to-access digital archive exclusively available in UK public lending libraries. Thousands of digitised videos and television programmes from the BFI National Archive and partner UK regions and nations film archives are available to browse and enjoy, research or study – with some familiar and memorable, others rare and unseen for decades. If you are a UK lending library service and would be interested in knowing more about the service, use our enquiry form below.”
  • The Buildings of Philanthropist John Passmore Edwards – Historic England. “Over 70 buildings were constructed in 14 years due to his dedicated philanthropy, including libraries, literary institutes and art galleries.”. 19 libraries for 19 letters: “Taking advantage of the 1850 Free Libraries Act, he pursued opportunities for public self advancement. His ambition was to build a library for every letter of his name. The 1850 Act gave local councils the power to establish libraries open to everyone without a subscription, and many councils had technical schools for science and art.”
  • In celebration of small & thoughtful innovation – Artefacto. “Consider the significance of the fine-free library policy. This relatively minor adjustment has had a profound impact on making the library more inclusive and equitable.” …
  • Libraries in five London boroughs to benefit from £60m funding – Yahoo News.
  • Libraries Strategy Update – DCMS. “Baroness Sanderson began a series of 9 in-depth discussion sessions with a wide range of people – both within and outside the sector – looking at the successes of the sector as well as the challenges confronting it and possibilities for the future. These sessions are taking place in libraries all over the country from Ipswich to Leeds, focusing on one of the 7 strategic outcomes in Ambition, plus sessions on libraries governance and ‘blue sky thinking’.” … ” The conversations have been wide ranging and thought provoking covering issues such as the need for improved data collection to better showcase the impact of public libraries, how libraries can most effectively  raise awareness of their local and national offer and the importance of seeing libraries as an investment rather than a cost.”
  • LibraryOn – Site now in Beta, with very limited functionality. Includes LibraryMap to show where your nearest library is (many links not working correctly as of yet). Become a Beta tester here. Includes grants for public libraries.
  • Musician Natalie Merchant, poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley, library funding – BBC. “Libraries were awarded the smallest amount of money from the Cultural Investment Fund, which was announced last week. Front Row speaks to Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, the Library and Information Association.”
  • £5.8 million project to deliver a more sustainable future for Open Access books – University of Lancaster. “Led by Lancaster University, the Open Book Futures (OBF) project will develop and support organisations, tools and practices that enable both academics and the wider public to make more and better use of books published on an Open Access basis. “

International news

“Sarah Brimelow is offering a short, fun video to any group that wants to promote their library service. You can view it here. It was made by her partner, ‘part-time musician’ John Phillips. He says: ‘During lockdown I started making videos to accompany my home recordings. I was inspired to make “My Local Library” because I was impressed with the range of services offered at Grove Vale Library in Southwark, and concerned about the threatened loss of libraries to local communities in the UK.””
  • Australia – In this sleepy Sydney suburb, a 24-hour venue is thriving – Sydney Morning Herald. “the suburb has become an unlikely champion for the 24-hour business district, as the home of Sydney’s library that never sleeps.”. Staffless over the small hours.
  • Global – Public Library of the Year – Systematic. “To qualify in 2023, the library must be built and opened between January 1st 2022 and December 31st 2022. “
  • USA – Judy Blume worried about intolerance and book banning in the US – BBC. “I came through the 80s when book banning was really at its height. And it was terrible. And then libraries and schools began to get policies in place and we saw a falling off of the desire to censor books. Now it is back, it is back much worse …”
    • Libraries Need More Freedom to Distribute Digital Books – Atlantic. ” if Controlled Digital Lending sought to provide an alternative pathway for the possession and use of digital books, it did so only after a new, highly constrained marketplace arose that disadvantages the mission of libraries. The frustration libraries feel about this state of affairs has reached a high enough level that bills are making their way through a number of state legislatures trying to regulate the library-ebook market.”
    • “The library is a safe place.” – Wil Wheaton Dot Net. “Why libraries? Because the library is so much more than a building with lots of books, internet access, 3D printers, D&D programs for kids, and all the other things. The library represents and offers equal access for everyone to all of those things. Not just the wealthy. Not just the privileged. Not just the in-group. It is a safe place for everyone to be curious, to find inspiration, to sit in the stacks, as far away from the door and the world as possible, and just quietly exist for a minute. (Don’t you love the way those books smell?) The public library is a safe place for all of us, whether we are a kid who feels invisible, a woman who is lost, or a New York Times bestselling author who has the privilege of sharing their story with you.”
    • Missouri House gives initial approval to $45.6 billion state budget that defunds libraries – NPR. “Democrats and Republicans repeatedly clashed over language that bans staffing for any programs or vendors “associated with diversity, equity and inclusion.”
    • Programming with Constructive Destruction, a guest post by Austin Ferraro – Teen Librarians Toolbox. “our library can be the center of absolute chaos on Friday afternoons.”

Local news by authority

“… Equally, it is often the case that members across the chamber quite rightly believe, as I do, that decisions for a local authority should be made by the local authority. Aberdeen City Council’s plan to close libraries will be extremely difficult for the library staff and the community. However, we recognise the financial challenges that local authorities are facing.” AberdeenHumza Yousaf Scottish National Party

  • Aberdeen – Anger as council confirms plans to close libraries and swimming pool – STV News. “An emergency meeting was held at the Town Hall in Aberdeen for councillors to have a second vote on budget cuts. Following deliberations, the decision was confirmed by a vote of 24-21.It meant plans to close Bucksburn Pool and Cults, Kaimhill, Woodside, Northfield, Cornhill and Ferryhill libraries were confirmed. Protesters said they won’t stop their fight, despite being unable to voice their concerns at Monday’s meeting.”
  • Anger as £155k to be awarded to ‘inferior’ Woodside Gateway project over saving library just yards away – Press and Journal. “Opposition councillors have slammed the decision to spend £155,615 on an art installation in Woodside while shutting the library around the corner.”
    • Opinion: Not just books – Public libraries and their role in communities – Robert Gordon University. “The public library quality framework for Scotland, ‘How good is our public library service?’ helps to inform what ‘adequate’ might look like by suggesting that it is a ‘planned strategic network of branches offering core functions’. The danger with piecemeal reactive cuts to branches as part of annual budget-setting processes is that services end up without that ‘planned strategic network’ of libraries, delivering services to communities for whom it really matters.”
    • Protestors against library closures at Aberdeen council meeting – Herald Scotland.
    • Scotland’s Makar slams ‘uniquely cold’ move to shut Aberdeen libraries – National. “She said it meant communities would be deprived of literature and learning and insisted Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie – who donated money to build thousands of libraries – would be “spinning in his grave”.As Makar, I’m dismayed to hear of Aberdeen Council’s determination to close six local libraries,” said Jamie.“There is something uniquely cold and shrivelling about closing down libraries.”
    • Six libraries to close in Aberdeen, despite efforts to save them – Guardian. “Many of the buildings are in deprived areas, say Save Aberdeen Libraries, while Aberdeen City Council argues facilities will be moved to cheaper ‘hubs’”. SNP says “We’re closing buildings, we’re not reducing library facilities and services,” the newspaper reported him as saying. “For example, the one in Torry – we’re closing the building but the Torry library service will go into a hub in the school two minutes walk away. We’re closing buildings which are old, expensive to heat and need staff, so we’re co-locating the service in schools and community centres.””
    • SLIC criticises Aberdeen City Council’s decision to close six libraries – BookSeller. “Pamela Tulloch, SLIC chief executive, told The Bookseller that the decision “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what a library service is by those elected members who voted to close one third of the Aberdeen’s public libraries”.”
  • BarnsleyBarnsley’s libraries set for huge overhaul after securing £50k grant – Yahoo News. “The LFT aims to increase and improve digital access within communities by increasing the number of users accessing services and increasing the number of PCs available to users.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Relaunching Brighton & Hove’s toy library – Brighton and Hove Council. “An additional smaller toy collection has been set up in Coldean Library and a new satellite toy library established at Portslade to provide wider accessibility for residents. Toy libraries are a fantastic way to keep your toy box full without breaking the bank, provide mental stimulation to your child, make friends and meet new people. “
  • Coventry – Libraries provide a much-needed home for digital cultureArts Professional. ” how bringing digital culture into Coventry’s libraries is building communities and helping to bridge a digital divide.”
  • Devon – Unlocking the Cage at Tavi Library – Tavistock Today. “The installation features a uniquely designed book which you use to navigate your journey. With the turn of each page, narration, original music and stunning animations bring the stories to life. The exhibit can be enjoyed alone or in groups of up to four people at a time, taking around 28 minutes to complete, no need to book. Find out more at librariesevolve.org.uk”
    • Future uncertain for Devon’s mobile library service – BBC. “The mobile library vans were “expensive to maintain” and “far fewer” people now used them, Devon County Council said.Roger Croad, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said three of the county’s four vans were coming to the “end of their serviceable lives”.Replacing them would cost between £500,000 and £800,000, Mr Croad said.” … “Despite an uncertain future for the mobile service, a report to the committee revealed that, across the whole library service in Devon, the number of visitors and active library users had continued to increase.” Consultation.
  • Inverclyde – Libraries team up with arts group for workshops this Easter – Yahoo News.
  • Kent – Save Folkestone Library – Facebook group. “Kent County Council have announced the planned closure of our 135 year old library, one of the last free, warm, communal safe spaces in Folkestone. The library was gifted to the people of Folkestone, and is not Kent County Council’s to sell. We must fight back.”
  • Lincolnshire – Works start on Boston Library building this April – Lincolnshire Council. “Boston Library is based in the County Hall building in the town centre. The private owner of the building is carrying out extensive work over the coming months to turn a large part of the building into a hotel. As part of these works, the area occupied by the library needs to be made stand-alone, to separate it internally from the hotel.”
  • Merton – Mitcham Library receives funding boost for education and digital hub – Merton Council. Library Improvement Funding. “The funding will make adaptations to the building to increase access using self-service technology (already deployed at our four branch sites) and create a makerspace using 3D printing, coding and virtual reality equipment, a large TV screen and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources. “
  • Nottingham – Council has spent £24,000 storing books amid fit-out of new Central Library – Notts TV. “Nottingham City Council opted to retire the facility and keep it closed during the development of the new £10.5m Central Library, which forms part of the new Broadmarsh Car Park and Bus Station. Residents have been left without a main city library ever since, and the project to build a new one has been hit with numerous delays.”
  • Nottinghamshire – £1.2 million for rural gigabit broadband for libraries and schools through devolution deal – Nottinghamshire Council. “The Government have made £1.2 million of funding available for new gigabit broadband for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Nottingham. It means that an extra 118 rural public sector schools and libraries will be connected to gigabit broadband. When complete, it will help librarians and teachers and allow whole classes to be online at once with no interruptions.”
  • Somerset – Somerset libraries offering activity tracker by SASP – Bridgwater Mercury. “Each Activity Tracker Watch can be loaned completely free for up to six weeks and every watch is cleared of all the data and information when you return it, ensuring your privacy isn’t compromised.”
  • Southend on Sea – Your Library Needs you! Apply to become a Summer Reading Challenge volunteer – Southend on Sea Council.
  • Staffordshire – Mobile library service now available in Burton – Staffordshire Council. “A mobile library service is now available in Burton outside the main library building after it closed temporarily on Monday due to safety concerns.”
  • Suffolk – Discover your new favourite reads with Suffolk Libraries DiscoveReads programme – Suffolk Libraries. “DiscoveReads is a reading programme launched by Suffolk Libraries in 2020 to help people broaden their reading horizons and find exciting new reading experiences. It includes a lively Facebook discussion group with nearly 700 members, and each month the group discusses an unlimited audiobook title on our free BorrowBox service.”
  • Swindon – Library becomes first in town to abolish late fees for under 10s – Yahoo News. Old Town Library. “Until now, only children aged between 0-4 were exempt from late fees, but that is now being extended to all children aged 10 and under in a year-long trial.” … “”Families tell me they are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, and while they like to use the library the fear of overdue fines is a barrier to them letting their children borrow.”
  • Wiltshire – New chapter as library officially opens at new home – Yahoo News. Durrington: “The library has been relocated to the Robinson Room at Durrington Village Hall, a much-anticipated feat made possible by Wiltshire Council. The previous location was a well-used portacabin which had reached the end of its structural life. The new home will help to preserve the future of the library and the essential services that it provides to local residents.”
  • Wirral – Extended opening hours to return to Wirral libraries – Wirral Globe. “The four central libraries at Bebington, Birkenhead, Wallasey and West Kirby will be open until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Monday, April 3. Six community libraries will also have extended hours to include opening on four weekdays, plus every Saturday morning. This improved offer provides an additional 91 hours per week across the library service and improve residents’ access to books, technology, study space and all other services provided at the local library.”