80%+ UK public libraries closed


There’s never been a week like this before in our lives. I count 171 library services in the UK now fully closed, with many of those remaining open running a reduced service to varying degrees of severity. There are very few left who are aiming to keep all libraries open. I estimate at least a 80% closure rate, and it’s likely to be a lot higher as some services are not updating their websites, I am being cautious in my estimate and the situation is changing very fast. The 60% estimate LC gives below is from a day before mine, to give you an idea.

However, the lack of a firm government directive to close libraries means that at time of writing (5pm on Sunday 22 March) there is no prohibition on councils choosing to keep public libraries open, subject to them following the government advice on social distancing etc. Staff at Lambeth took matters into their own hands, though, and walked out citing a law that makes it illegal to run an unsafe workplace. And, with coronavirus being able to survive for up to 72 hours on surfaces – including on plastic book-jackets – it will be challenging for libraries still open to ensure that they are not, especially as there will be a ton of schoolkids heading their way.

But, look, take care of yourself this week. You cannot be too careful but at the same time take your mind off things for however short a time per day you can. And. above all, keep well.

Click here for a regularly updated list of library services open/closed.

Text of Libraries Connected letter to Government

“Libraries Connected is the sector-led charity for all public library services in England. We are funded by Arts Council England as a Sector Support Organisation.

We note the guidance issued by the government yesterday, which asks various businesses and venues including museums and galleries to close:

On behalf of the public library sector, we are asking that all public libraries in the UK be added to the published list.

Over the past few days, individual local authorities have made decisions about their library services in response to their own interpretation of government guidance. The fast-moving situation has been hard to track, but we estimate that approximately 60% of England’s library services have now completely closed. One library service shared with us the urgent advice they received from a senior clinical lead in their county:

‘I have grave public health concerns regarding the library service remaining open. I have been informed that several aged patients were attending today reading newspapers together in close proximity. This is in clear conflict with government advice on social distancing.  …the mortality associated with Covid-19 spread cannot be overstated. We need to act together, now. Shut the libraries, send your employees home. Now.’

However, the advice to libraries appears to be inconsistent, so many are still operating in a situation that is increasingly confused and alarming for library staff and their communities and puts both groups at risk of infection. This situation will worsen if children, who are not in school, begin to use their local libraries to access computers and other learning resources

Libraries are trusted places which last year welcomed 225 million visits and loaned 175 million books. However, they can no longer operate safely within the government guidelines on social distancing and other Coronavirus control measures. Safety measures that libraries are trying to take are coming under increasing strain due to growing shortages of staff and cleaning supplies.

The very nature of a public library presents serious risks in the current situation, which are very hard (if not impossible) to control.  These critical risks include:

  • Circulation of books and materials between people, through lending and browsing. This affects staff, volunteers and library users.
  • The very wide cross section of the community who use libraries, including significant numbers of people in the high-risk groups (older people, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions).
  • The expected influx of large numbers of children next week, due to school closures. They will be impossible to segregate from users in high risk groups – including pregnant women.
  • The extreme difficulty in enforcing social distancing by users, due to the nature of the modern library, with open plan spaces and furniture designed for social interaction. Many libraries have reported users rearranging furniture back into close groupings after library staff had spaced it out.
  • The extreme difficulty in protecting staff and volunteers, as the nature of their role is to provide face to face support. Many libraries no longer have reception desks, as staff now floor walk for better contact with their users.

Libraries have responded to the crisis with energy and innovation, to ensure their communities have digital and remote services. This includes marketing their existing e-book and e-magazine service, with libraries reporting 25% – 100% spikes in e-membership. They are also developing more innovative ideas including Facebook Storytime, online book clubs, live streaming activities via social media and rotas of phone calls to regular library users.

Although buildings have closed, libraries are determined to ensure vulnerable people in their communities are not isolated. Libraries will also have a vital role to play to help support and reconnect communities once the current crisis ends.

We will appreciate a swift response to this request, as many libraries remain open this weekend.

Yours sincerely,

Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive, Libraries Connected

Mark Freeman, President, Libraries Connected”

National news

Local news by authority

“In a statement, Lambeth Unison said workers were walking out under Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This provides workers with the right to withdraw from and refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe.”

Libraries Connected calls for all public libraries to close

Please note a list of UK public library responses to the emergency can be found here.


In a statement that would be have been undreamt of mere days ago, Libraries Connected is calling on the British Government to close all public libraries. The statement reads in part that “in light of the recent escalation of the COVID-19 crisis and the latest government advice, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that library buildings should close to protect communities and staff from infection” and point out that as well as the users “it is equally important that library staff are safeguarded during this period.”. The organisation is now working hard to work out ways to improve remote library services.

Eleswhere, the lack of clear guidance from Government has led to a wide range of responses, from immediate closure to waiving fines to ending events. Closures are ultimately the decision of individual councils, not chief librarians. However, up and down the country, senior library managers are having to make decisions for their service because the Government has avoided doing so. They should all be supported as it is the most difficult time in their careers, as well as ours.

More positively, there seems to be a serious effort to promote and improve the digital options that libraries provide, varying from video’d storytimes to buying more e-books. There are also moves by digital suppliers, although currently largely in the USA, to improve their offers.

Library changes noted before posting



  • Statement on COVID-19 and public libraries – Libraries Connected. “…in light of the recent escalation of the COVID-19 crisis and the latest government advice, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that library buildings should close to protect communities and staff from infection. We are calling on government to make a clear decision about closing libraries, along with other public buildings.”

National news

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Local news by authority

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Malpas Library to benefit from improvement works – So Cheshire. “Malpas Library will be closed temporarily for two weeks over the Easter holidays to improve the layout of the library and school reception area.”
  • Essex – Colchester Library loses 19,000 books in just four years – Clacton Gazette. “Data released by Essex County Council shows between 2016/17 and February 2020 Colchester library’s book stock went from 111,494 to 92,190. It equates to a reduction of 19,304 books. Last year, Essex County Council backtracked on its plan to close 25 of the county’s libraries after a fierce backlash from campaigners. “
  • Hampshire – 20,000 voice views on Hampshire libraries closure plan – News. “‘This has been a robust process, encouraging views from the widest possible range of people – as seen from the strong public response to the consultation.’ The county council is looking to save £80m by April 2021. Its consultation closes on Wednesday, March 18. A decision will then be taken in summer.”
    • MP piles on pressure to stop councillor from closing Odiham library – Basingstoke Gazette. “Schoolchildren have presented a petition to stop their library closing to the councillor making the decision. Youngsters Nina and Robert handed over their campaign on behalf of pupils at Buryfields Infant School and Mayhill Junior School. “
  • Hillingdon – Top Trumps-style cards are key to Summer Reading Challenge – This is Local London. “The cards, the council’s answer to Top Trumps, feature animal characters and are a hugely popular reward for borrowing books. Each year, libraries give away thousands of these unique collectible items to children as part of the initiative. The Summer Reading Challenge aims to keep children reading throughout the school summer holidays and will start on Saturday, July 11. The theme for 2020 is Silly Squad, a celebration of funny books.”

Washing our hands? UK public libraries and Coronavirus


Well, it’s been a surreal week. The news has got worse and worse. As I write this, country after country is closing its borders. Spain is telling its citizens to stay inside and they’re using drones to do it. Austria has just announced it is banning gatherings of more than five people.

Meanwhile, the British Government is moving from its “Do Nothing” stage to its “Wait And See In A Couple Of Weeks” phase. Official policy is that a large part of the population needs to be infected in order to give what is called “herd immunity“. Leaving aside whatever our thoughts are about being called a herd” and the 1%ish death rate of those sacrificing themselves for the others, the vital part of this policy when normally applied (e.g. small pox, polio, measles) is a vaccine. We don’t have a vaccine yet.

In what may be the biggest understatement I have ever made, the government’s relaxed attitude is a bit of a problem for public libraries. While the official policy of “wash your hands” is in action, public services are likely to stay open. Public library workers are employed by councils who appear to be abiding by government advice. Chief librarians are mere employees too. Libraries Connected is made up of chief librarians.

So here are some publicly known facts that will help them while everyone is deciding if following the government advice is sensible or not:

  • Those without symptoms are likely not to be contagious, but this is not 100% certain. However, anyone with a new cough, temperature or difficulty in breathing may be. (Source: Government)
  • Being with 2 metres of someone can spread the disease. Touching the infected person or something they have touched can spread the disease (Source: Government). “Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.”
  • There is a significant estimated death rate of, on average, around 1%, or lower. (Source: Guardian but fairly well known). Worst case scenarios (80% infection rate) is therefore around 500,000 in the UK (source: Evening Standard). This places it as slightly worse than all UK fatalities throughout World War 2, and more than half that of World War One. While that huge number is unlikely in practice, the normal rate for flu for comparison is just 600 (source: Oxford University).
  • Risk is increased “in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.” (Source: Government)

So what does this translate to in public library terms? Here are some more commonly known facts:

  • Books are issued and returned in public libraries. Books have surfaces.
  • Self service machines are operated by touch. Touchscreens have surfaces.
  • Computers have mice and keyboards, both of which have surfaces. They are often not 2 metres apart from each-other.
  • Chairs and tables have surfaces. As do door handles. And toys. And musical instruments. It is hard to 100% be sure you have cleaned a toy. Or a tambourine.
  • Wipes are in increasing short supply.
  • Older people are a core part of the overall library user base. Public library staff are often older themselves, and are thus more likely to have older relations they need to look after.
  • Knit and natter groups, rhymetimes and events normally involve people being under 2 meters of each-other. Knit and natter groups often have older people in them.
  • People will sometimes use a public library. or attend events, when they are slightly ill.

Amongst libraries not closing abroad, the following has been noted:

I will not go any further than that. I for one look forward to future communications from the Government, news from library services and information from Libraries Connected with great interest. I have quoted the statement of the latter to me below, in full.

Changes by local authority


“Libraries Connected is closely monitoring the situation and implications for library services. This includes hosting an ongoing discussion between Heads of Library services to share approaches and ways of managing the evolving situation as new NHS and government advice is released. Libraries are developing their emergency planning as part of the wider plans of their local authorities, with a focus on protecting staff and library users. At present, in line with current government advice, libraries are operating business as usual. However, many are now increasing cleaning, especially of surfaces like door handles, touch screens and keyboards. Libraries are also considering how best to protect those who may be more vulnerable, such as running risk assessments on events such as rhyme time or older people’s groups. If staff are unsure what to do in their library, they should ask their Head of Service for advice as the situation evolves.”

Isobel Hunter, Libraries Connected – Statement on LC and Coronavirus

“It’s time to call for closure of all public libraries as they are an obvious infection point for the virus Many elderly and vulnerable people use libraries and are at risk , not to mention the safety of staff , and the disease is carried airborne , especially in enclosed spaces. 

Email received
  • Coronavirus and libraries: Staying safe and staying relevant – Christian Lauersen. “On Wednesday March 11 2020 at 8.30 pm local time, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, declared a closure of all non-critical public sector institutions likes schools, kindergartens, universities and libraries for 14 days. Critical functions as police and health care will still be in function. All public sector employees who do not perform critical functions was to be sent home for 14 days. ” … “We need to stick together by being as much apart as possible in times like these. That is also why staff don’t come into work in a closed library but are kept at home.”
  • Coronavirus: More universities halt teaching and exams – BBC. “Even if teaching and exams are off, libraries will remain open, say universities “

National news

  • Applications for bursary places at our 2020 annual seminar are now open – Libraries Connected. “As part of our commitment to supporting the development of future library leaders, we are offering two sponsored places at our 2020 annual seminar.” … In Warwick in June. Seminar is entitled “Creating Our Story”.
  • Baroness Neville-Rolfe: Libraries can provide crucial support for women entrepreneurs – Politics Home. “The British Library has a keen ambition to expand this network to 20 regional Centres by 2023, with an increased emphasis on expanding its business support offering beyond city centres and into towns and other locations across the UK. “
  • British Library Leeds plan gets £25m boost – BookSeller. “The British Library’s plan to set up a northern version in Leeds has been given a £25m boost by the government, alongside up to £95m to redevelop its existing Boston Spa site.”
  • CILIP Library Management Systems Suppliers Showcase – CILIP. Friday 20 March,
  • Councils to increase tax across UK as services are slashed – World Socialist Web Site. “The coming year will see nearly all councils across the UK increasing council tax, according to the annual 2020 State of Local Government Finance report, with one in 10 having to make cuts to essential services because they cannot balance the books.”
  • Edmund de Waal takes aim at library closures in British Museum installation – Big Issue. “The striking installation stands up for the importance of libraries while telling the stories of people forced to flee their home countries”
  • Gift to libraries celebrates women’s roles in politics – Oban Times. “Scottish publishers 404ink and BHP Comics have teamed up with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) to donate copies of the graphic novel, We Shall Fight Until We Win, to every secondary school library in the country, including Argyll, the Isles and the Highlands, to mark International Women’s Day last Sunday, March 8.”
  • Introducing the DCMS Libraries team – DCMS Libraries. “The Libraries Minister is Caroline Dinenage, the Minister for Digital and Culture. We support her by doing things like preparing briefings to support visits she may make or to inform meetings she has with representatives from across the sector.” … “We also support our ministers in dealing with Parliamentary Questions, correspondence, debates and Freedom of Information requests.” … “Underpinning everything we do, is supporting our Secretary of State (Oliver Dowden) in their duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. They have a duty to superintend, and promote the improvement of council library services. But what does that mean in practice?”

“However, that is only part of our superintendence work. We’re really keen to talk to and visit library services who are at an early stage in considering changes (or are in the process of making changes) to their library service provision. This helps us understand what’s happening but also provides opportunities for councils to ask us any questions.”

DCMS Libraries Team
  • Libraries Connected Innovation Network National Gathering 2020 – Eventbrite. “The Library Innovators Network is here to support and connect public library staff across the UK and our National Gathering is a one-day event, designed to allow people to share and to learn from others.” May, Leeds.
  • Minecraft ‘loophole’ library of banned journalism – BBC. “A virtual library has been meticulously created to host articles written by journalists which were censored online.”.
  • Programme Manager, Children and Young People’s Reading – Reading Agency. “The Reading Agency is looking for an experienced project manager to lead our work with children and young people from disadvantaged communities. “
  • Public Lending Right explained – DCMS Libraries. A guide to PLR.
  • Spring budget: UK Chancellor announces more funding for IP centres – WIPR. Extra £13m for more Business and IP Centres in public libraries. ““This funding demonstrates that the Government have heard our calls for greater recognition of the vital role that libraries play in helping businesses to innovate and grow,” said Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA’s culture, tourism and sport board,”
  • Turning libraries into community hubs ‘to blame for decline’ in use, says Coates – BookSeller. “The use of libraries for community activities rather than just as a repository for books has led to a fall in their use rather than an increase, according to a new report by campaigner Tim Coates. In his newly-published Freckle Report, Coates, a former c.e.o. of Waterstones turned advocate for public libraries in the UK and US, published his recent research and made renewed calls to turn around a service that is in serious decline. But, rather than singling out the cuts in funding regularly blamed for the service’s problems, Coates said it was a lack of books that was to blame and two decades spent turning facilities into community hubs, moving them away from their main purpose.”
  • Two new member trustees appointed to Libraries Connected board – Libraries Connected. “Anthony Hopkins, BEM from Merton and Kathryn Harrison from Wakefield. “
  • World Book Day smashes Share a Million Stories target – BookSeller. “Hundreds of thousands of children, parents, carers, authors, illustrators, schools, bookshops, libraries, and publishers across the UK and Ireland shared 10-minute stories with 1.5 million stories shared at the time of writing. “

Local news by authority

Coronavirus and libraries

So, unless there’s a centenarian reading this (if so, hi there!) none of us have lived through a time similar to what we have now with Coronavirus. So far, the library response can be summed up as searching for hand gel supplies. putting up notices and waiting for government and councils to tell them what to do. Some enterprising souls – no services as yet I have seen – are promoting e-books on social media but it’s all a bit mooted. All those events planned for near/medium term are looking a bit questionable too. It promises to be an interesting week. Let’s hope it ends in anti-climax.

Impending pandemic aside, the news this week has largely been World Book Day. It’s all been rather wonderful. Less so has been the ton of librarian in-fighting on social media, with CILIP in the firing line once more. I’m not going to go into it now but just to say that social media is once more proving to be the most polarising medium there is and shouting loudly is not the best way to hear other people.

Finally, I cannot let the public relations speak of Derbyshire go un-noticed. The council that brought you the policy of not allowing their staff to renew books over the phone is boasting loud about how innovative they’re being by forcing libraries to be taken over by volunteers. Good grief, Derbyshire, get a grip and respect your staff and your public a bit more.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Bans will result in equality being replaced by inequality – Evening Telegraph. “These events are generally held in libraries and public spaces across the UK and are an entirely opt-in and voluntary option for parents to educate their children on LGBT inclusion.” Writer then points out evangelic Christian banned from speaking while drag queen story time allowed.
  • Covid-19 isn’t just flu. It is time to take this virus seriously – Telegraph. “Public libraries are putting away children’s toys. Supermarkets are running low on loo paper …” Behind partial paywall.
  • New Words – Time To Read. “New Words is an innovative public library and small press partnership from Time to Read. The North West’s independent publishing scene is thriving and in 2020, New Words presents books and special events from five North West independent publishing houses in public libraries across twenty two North West library authorities from Cheshire to Cumbria, including all of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire. You’ll also find bold new artwork, commissioned for the project from Oldham artist and designer, Kim Hubball, all with support from Arts Council England.”
  • Public library service annual reports 2018 to 2019 – Welsh Government. Resourcing and staffing an area of concern for many services. Only one professionally qualified librarian for all of Blaenau Gwent, very few also in Cardiff.

“We are thrilled to let you know that our regional Children’s Reading Partners Roadshow will be taking place at Bath Guildhall on 12 May 2020 and Adult Reading Partners Roadshow will be on the 13 May 2020. Every year we go to a different region so we are excited to visit the South West but librarians for across the UK are welcome to join. We have found that reader development, school and stock librarians have found the day particularly useful in the past.

The annual event is designed for publishers and librarians to talk directly to build relationships, to share ideas and create opportunities for new book or author promotions. Every librarian will have the opportunity to hear from attending publishers about their new titles and authors. This will be followed by a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss particular opportunities and to tell publishers about your library and the readers you support. The day will run from approximately 9.30am to 4pm. We request that librarians commit to attending the whole day so that you can hear from all of the publishers and then speak with the publishers in small groups during the afternoon. Admission is free and lunch will be provided. Please do share this invitation within your region and delegates can confirm your attendance by using the booking form by 10 April (but this is dependent on capacity). 

Kimberley Sheehan| kimberley.sheehan@readingagency.org.uk [kimberley.sheehan@readingagency.org.uk]

The Scottish Poetry Library made brave stand, Lionel Shriver and Father Ted writer say – Times. “The novelists Lionel Shriver and Joan Smith, and the Father Ted writer Graham Linehan are among more than 150 signatories of a letter expressing “whole-hearted support” for the Scottish Poetry Library’s stand against the “Orwellian” takeover of language by gender activists.” Partial paywall.

Working Internationally for Libraries Grants – CILIP. “A total of 10 public libraries from all over England applied to be considered for the Building Bridges grants programme under the Working Internationally for Libraries project, funded by Arts Council England. The four winners have been selected by a jury consisting of members from Arts Council England, Public Libraries 2030, and CILIP’s International Libraries and Information Professionals group”. Winners are Redbridge, Oldham, Barnet and Oxfordshire.

Zaffre wins Sampson’s debut The Last Library – BookSeller. “The Last Library is the story of shy, reclusive June Jones, who is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save her beloved library from closure, with the help of her unconventional yet dedicated patrons. Zaffre called it “an ode to libraries and the ability they possess to bring the unlikeliest of people together” but also a story “about how the right person, at the right time, can make a huge difference”.

Kois - appear first in search results
Free webinar this Thursday at 1.30pm. Click on the image for the link or paste https://digitalcontentassociates.com/making-google-work-for-you/

International news

  • USA – Information studies prof works to address mental illness among librarians – UWM Report. “… mental health may be an even bigger issue among librarians. One study found that more than half of academic librarians surveyed reported having a diagnosed mental illness. But these mental illnesses are scarcely discussed in the library community”
    • History in Going Fine Free – A Look at the Impact It could Have On Your Community – SirsiDynix. “Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries (FVRL) went fine free in 1970 after doing an internal study that showed the cost of collecting fines exceeded the amount collected. They then took the necessary steps to implement and become a fine free library. This policy has saved their library money, and more importantly, increased the amount of positive interactions with their patrons. They have seen a significant decrease in their overdue materials, with last year being less than 4%.”

Local news by authority

Petition damp squib, Devon theft and an inspired funny name


The CILIP/Big Issue petition to boost public libraries prior to Budget Day barely managed seven thousand signatures, far fewer than the membership just of CILIP itself. There are several reasons for this including there being no huge coverage of it and, connected to this, no actual energising major crises at the moment outside of Essex, Hampshire and arguably Bradford. The petition also came at a hopefully short-term low point for the organisation with anger at the Cummings article leading to sour grapes and apathy at least on Twitter. But, still, getting that few a number has to hurt and is likely to send completely the wrong message – so get signing it to make it look less embarrassing, you only have until 11 March.

The story of Libraries Unlimited having £38,000 stolen from them by their own finance manager made the news this week. It looks like she was relatively quickly caught but the theft may raise some eyebrows about the dangers inherent in a small charity – for such LU is – running a library service. However, such thefts are of course common in councils, human nature being what it is and it’s common to see larger amounts stolen over longer periods there. So LU gets a pass on this. But there are only three library trusts and with one already hit – well – losing one may well be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two …. we’ll see.

Finally, two good news stories. World Book Day is a lovely annual event for libraries and there will be tons of pro-book things going on nationally, including in many libraries. But the story that pleases me most is the naming of mobile libraries in Lancashire. Not because it’s (excuse me) novel – Orkney got there years ago – but because the names are so amusing. Whoever came up with “The Hardbacks of Notre Van”, for instance, deserves some sort of honour. Perhaps we should start a petition.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Book lovers across Wales set to celebrate World Book Day 2020 – Wales 247. “The Books Council of Wales is inviting schools, bookshops, colleges, libraries, businesses and households to join the largest annual celebration of books and reading in the United Kingdom and Ireland, by taking part in activities and events across Wales and by simply sharing in the pleasure of reading.”
  • Libraries play crucial role in communities – Guardian / Letters. “… surely councils should not have to raid other parts of their budget to stop library closures, however “lateral thinking” this might be. In The Case for Support, we called for funding for libraries to be restored to pre-austerity levels, and we are delighted that Libraries Deliver is orchestrating an End Libraries Austerity petition to be delivered to No 10 later this month – we urge people to visit the Libraries Deliver website and add their names.”
  • Library crusader Bobby Seagull deliver funding demands to Downing Street – Big Issue. “Bobby Seagull led the way to 10 Downing Street with the library-saving petition signed by more than 7,000 people – and it’s still open”
  • Meet Northern writers at libraries in Read Regional campaign – North Yorkshire Council. “Founded by New Writing North in 2008, the campaign is funded by Arts Council England and is produced in partnership by New Writing North, North Yorkshire County Council and 21 other library authorities.”
  • Mhairi Black’s drag queen stunt has backfired spectacularly – Spectator. “In the hands of ideologically-inspired teachers and librarians, nothing is off limits in the drive to shock children out of their heteronormative assumptions. “
  • Scottish Government pledges £100,000 to new memory group project – Press and Journal. “The Scottish Government has announced a £100,000 award from the public library improvement fund for the creation of “memory groups”. Its is the largest grant the improvement fund has ever paid out and the first time library services have collaborated on a single venture. With an emphasis on social history, the idea behind the innovative wellbeing project is that group members will stir up conversation and build a stronger sense of community.”
  • Scottish library cuts: six councils to make savings – Herald. “Edinburgh’s savings plan of more than £300,000 is up in the air as councillors this week dropped plans to cut library opening hours and are to reconsider their long-term plans for staffless libraries. ” … “West Lothian Council plans to reduce hours at libraries from April in a savings package of £130,000. The changes to opening hours will save the council £50,000 by reducing staffing. ” … “A shake-up of Angus Alive, which runs the region’s libraries, is expected to make a £458,000 saving. It is said to have led to the departure of senior figures already.” … “Inverclyde’s £246,000 package of planned savings for next year includes cutting library headquarters support, and removing evening opening of all branch libraries. ” … “Western Isles is the other local authority looking to save on libraries. “

International news

Local news by authority

Cummings controversy and good news


CILIP has got in trouble over the last few days due to an article it published on Dominic Cummings and his views on libraries. To be honest, I did not really take much note of it myself other than thinking it was a quite interesting piece on the viewpoint of a very important advisor. But, wow, Library Twitter took a different view, with even what I consider moderates laying in to the professional association for the piece, and several saying they will cease their membership because of it. See the links below and make up your own mind.

I do completely like the joint CILIP and Big Issue campaign to help public libraries, though, and I don’t see any one else out there who could feasibly have done it. Other than that, it’s been another good week for libraries, with Bradford reducing its proposed cuts even further by spending £200k on putting its shelves on wheels and Edinburgh getting rid of a £300k cut.

Changes by authority

National news

  • Bobby Seagull is taking a petition fighting for library funding to Number 10 – Big Issue. “The Libraries Champion is working with CILIP and The Big Issue to return library funding to 2010 levels – and the petition has already attracted more than 1,000 signatures in just two days”
  • “Do People Even Go To Libraries Any More?” – The Public (Film Review) – Vulturehound. “There’s talk about “Johnny Steinbeck” being staff member Jena Malone’s “tenth grade crush” and a clueless patron querying why she can’t find a “life-size globe of the Earth” to study. Estevez’s script is at its strongest in these scenes, sketching a sort of mundane stupidity that brings the laughs in a cosy way.”
  • Dominic Cummings: Libraries are “desperately needed” – CILIP. “… special adviser, Dominic Cummings, has no such conditions attached to his support for libraries. He sees them as fundamental to the survival of the country – as one of the few things that should permanently survive in institutions that manage complexity, government departments in particular. “
    • CILIP response to discussion surrounding Dominic Cummings article – CILIP. “In this instance, we considered the article, its tone and approach very critically and carefully prior to publication. Nothing in the article – including the fact of its publication – endorses Cummings or his views, or the Government’s policy on libraries.”
  • End library austerity – secure revenue funding for public libraries in the Chancellor’s Budget – Libraries Deliver. “CILIP and The Big Issue call on the Secretaries of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Communities, Housing and Local Government (MCHLG) to bring an end to 10 years of library austerity and to work together to invest in the future of our towns and communities by reinstating revenue funding for libraries to its pre-austerity level in the forthcoming Budget.” 4155 signatures at time of accessing on Sunday 23 February 9.25am.
  • How ebooks and libraries help bring people together – Big Issue. Pro ebook article by ebook provider Overdrive.
  • Make Google work for you – Koios UK Library Webinar. “In this 45-minute webinar, Trey from Koios will explain the basics of how your library can qualify for up to £7,500 a month worth of free online advertising from Google.”. Includes 50% discount on how to apply.
  • Picture books on prescription – Guardian. “Rosen’s book depicts his grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 18. “These books will start conversations with children about how they’re feeling and show them that others have felt the same way,” he says. “Public libraries have long been places where people have sought answers and comfort; this scheme combines the safe space of the library with inspiring children and families to read for pleasure and wellbeing.””
  • S&S strikes partnership with Library Link – BookSeller. “Library Link is a dedicated resource for public libraries and librarians, enabling them to communicate directly with Simon & Schuster’s fiction editorial team about books, authors and events. The service will include suggestions about how best to serve and engage libraries’ local communities, a monthly newsletter and dedicated Twitter feed.”

International news

Local news by authority

“We are delighted that Simon Armitage has agreed to include Abington in his library tour this year. It is a real coup for our library to have been selected and we will be using the occasion as a ‘thank you’ event to our loyal supporters and helpers who have come along to meetings, coffee mornings and other events and encouraged us to keep going during the very uncertain period since autumn 2017 when Northamptonshire County Council first announced its major library review plans and indicated that Abington Library was at risk of closure. We are now in the process of transferring to being a volunteer-run community library in partnership with Abington Community Centre. There is a clear need for this much-loved local library to continue to serve people of all ages in Abington and the surrounding neighbourhoods and to have recognition of our library by this well known literary figure is a real boost for us.”

Northamptonshire – Jan Anderson, Chair of the Friends of Abington Library (Quote received via email)



Another week of, on aggregate, good news for libraries. The biggest of these is Bradford, that has gone from wanting to, basically, strip its library service to, rather, keep it all open but with more co-locations and other services coming in.

The last decade has been very much a period of co-locationing libraries with other services in order to both cut costs and maximise footfall, although this has been hidden by the darker news of other more serious cuts. Done right, these locations can be joyous things, with all partners benefitting and places abuzz. Done wrong and it’s hard to find the library in amongst the other services, with the core purpose (free, neutral, access to information, books, study space) being overwhelmed by partner services, some disturbingly commercial in nature.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • The Freckle Report 2020: An analysis of public libraries in the US, UK and Australia (Freckle library reports) – Tim Coates, £92. “This report analyses the historic performance of public library services in the US, UK and Australia. It contains a narrative of the past ten years, showing declines in use and how widely they have occurred. It looks at the performance of different library activities and of different categories of expenditure on libraries. It looks at the use of different reading formats that are available and how much they are used in public libraries compared to the wider reading public. It identifies the purpose of reading in libraries and what influences people to read their books. The report draws conclusions and makes recommendations for improvement. “
  • “I’ve seen firsthand what we lose if we don’t invest in libraries” – Big Issue. “The impact of cuts to services like libraries, youth services, culture and sport spreads deep into communities and leaves lasting damage. Dr Emma Davidson has studied the fallout” … “During my research for the Leverhulme Trust on public libraries and austerity, I’ve seen firsthand all that we will lose if disinvestment in public libraries continues. So, what’s so special about a public library? Well, for starters they are a free and accessible community resource – something that is becoming ever more scarce. When working well, they can be a vibrant community hub for education, digital inclusion, workforce development, community engagement and more.”
  • Making the Case For Tor Relays in Libraries – Medium. “We don’t pay by the byte, so all that time we are closed is time when library bandwidth is going to waste. So, what to do with all the extra bandwidth? If libraries believe they are public good then it should be utilized instead of being wasted. I advocate that all libraries install a Tor relay in their building.”
  • New year, new culture secretary: Oliver Dowden arrives at the DCMS – Museums and Heritage Advisor.
  • UK literacy campaign set for launch in city – JMU Journalism. “Liverpool Central Library has been chosen to host the launch of a national campaign to get adults reading. The Quick Reads initiative, established in 2006, enlists six popular authors each year to write an easily accessible book.”
  • Saturdays in the library prepared me for Paxman – Big Issue. Bobby Seagull: “Libraries are more than just books, they represent what it means to be truly human. They contain the minds of our ancestors as well as the latest thinking of contemporary minds. We need our libraries, as they are shining beacons of knowledge, sharing and inclusive communities.”


Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Chance to have your say over future shape of district’s libraries service – Keighley News. “Bradford Council is seeking people’s views on how they want to see Keighley Library and others evolve in the years ahead. The council said a consultation exercise held over the past 12 months had been a huge success, with more than 3,000 responses received. But it added that the current model for libraries on its own was “not financially sustainable” in the long term. “
  • Bromley – Deal on Libraries – Bromley Borough News. “This issue is no doubt set to rumble on for a while yet. Unite, among others, will continue to see a privately run library network as inherently dangerous, yet Bromley will point to big savings made by using GLL. The strike may have ended, but the debate certainly has not.”
  • Essex – Libraries turn a page for the 21st century – Gazette News. “After announcing there would be no closures, council leader David Finch told a meeting he was pleased the consultation had “reinvigorated” the public’s desire and love for libraries. As part of Essex 2020 – a year long, county wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) – the council is set to utilise this dual purpose of its libraries. “
  • Greenwich – Plumstead Centre Library opens its doors today after multi-million refurbishment – News Shopper. “The Grade II listed building has undergone a 15-month refurbishment to renovate the old Plumstead Library and created a new, modernised one accompanied with a leisure centre, community rooms and a cafe. Described as a “brilliant unifying community space at the heart of Plumstead” with “fantastic new facilities,” a launch event was held to celebrate the official opening of the Plumstead Centre. “
  • Hampshire – Number of users at Basingstoke’s closure-threatened libraries go up – Romsey Advertiser. “More than 120,000 people used Chineham or South Ham libraries between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. This is up from 118,000 in 2015-16. This two per cent rise bucks a trend across the rest of the Hampshire, which saw an eight per cent decrease over four years and a 15 per cent decrease since 2017-18. Chineham saw more than 78,000 people use its library last year, making it the busiest of the ten at risk of closure and 21st in total. “
    • Campaigners make a stand against Gosport library closure threat – News. “Elson Library in Gosport held a drop-in session on Tuesday which saw dozens of residents discuss how they use the space and what a lifeline it is to this community. It comes as Hampshire County Council consults on plans to cut 10 libraries or reduce opening hours by a quarter to save money. Veronica Walker, who has lived in Elson all her life, said: ‘It’s not just about losing a library, it’s a community hub, not just for the elderly but for young and children. It would be a great loss.'”
    • Reader’s letter: ‘closing libraries is a retrograde act’ – Hampshire Chronicle. “It’s significant that the consultation (whether genuine or politically tactical) on the future of Hampshire’s library service states that the first of three options which are not being consulted on at this time is: “transfer(ring) Hampshire Libraries to a Trust Model. This is because Trust models are still in their infancy and the County Council would need to be convinced of their resilience and sustainability efore considering Trusts as a potential option.””
  • Newham – Drag Queen Story Time event defended by Newham Council after Twitter attacks – Newham Recorder. “Newham Council’s Twitter account saw 1,600 messages in response to a tweet publicising the first of its Drag Queen Story Times in Canning Town Library on February 7. A majority of users attacked the plans, questioning how appropriate the event was, while a few signalled their support. Deputy Mayor and lead member for community neighbourhoods, Cllr Charlene McLean, said: “These special reading events are designed to be fun, capture the imagination of children and get them used to embracing differences in others and treating everyone as equal from an early age. “
  • Northamptonshire – Earls Barton Library and Community Centre volunteers celebrate latest chapter – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Supporters who fought for three years to save Earls Barton’s library cheered as the ribbon was cut marking the opening of the newly-refurbished centre. About 80 people raised their glasses of fizz to welcome the new era of volunteer-run provision which had been under threat after Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) budget cuts.”
  • North Tyneside – Revealed: Massive scheme to transform Tynemouth’s tired library – Chronicle Live. “If the plans are approved, the building would be completely rebuilt as a modern hub that could accommodate library and financial services under one roof. The council will continue to operate the library and will partner with Newcastle Building Society to secure the creation of a community branch inside and private apartments could also be created above.”
  • North YorkshireMalton library introduces read to dogs sessions – Minster FM. “Read2Dogs was launched at Selby library with two rescue dogs from Serbia, who act as therapy dogs with their owners. Malton library has decided to follow suit with Rosie the black Labrador, who is meeting budding readers at a taster session at 10.30am on Wednesday 19 February. “
  • Oxfordshire – Banbury library part of new recycle scheme – Banbury Guardian. “Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is to launch a new trial service to residents with a way to ensure their unwanted small electrical items can be repaired and reused, reducing what the county would otherwise send to waste.”
  • Powys – Town libraries may begin to ‘feel the heat’, says councillor – County Times. “Possible cuts to library services in Powys is “a bit alarming” however it is “not a case for Llanidloes to panic,” said a local county councillor. Cllr Gareth Morgan (Liberal Democrat, Llanidloes) said at a town council meeting that other town libraries may begin to “feel the heat” from Powys County Council (PCC). He said: “I’m fairly calm about it at the moment because we are ahead of the game as far as contributing to the overheads are concerned. “
  • St HelensResidents’ views wanted on future of Gamble Building in St Helens town centre – St Helens Reporter. Central Library will move to World of Glass.
  • StaffordshireVolunteers back Staffordshire’s library service – Tamworth Informed. “A report to Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet says that more than 1,100 volunteers are giving the equivalent of £1.4m worth of time either helping in the 27 Community Managed Libraries, or in one of the 16 larger libraries still directly run by the local authority.”
  • Suffolk – New coffee shop welcomes its first customers at Ipswich library – Ipswich Star. “Nikki Hulse, business development manager at Suffolk Libraries said: “We’re very excited to welcome Coffeelink to Ipswich County Library and are proud to be working with such a well-loved and ethical local business. We hope library customers will enjoy this new service and that it’ll also bring new people into the library.”
  • Thurrock Aveley Library set to reopen as part of the new Aveley Community Hub – Your Thurrock. “The hub which includes the library, a café and activities for local residents will open at 10am on Tuesday 18 February at its new home in New Maltings, High Street, Aveley, RM15 4BY after closing the doors on its Purfleet Road building for the last time on Saturday 1 February. It joins the new Aveley Community Hub which will initially open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Police will use libraries as bases to work and speak to public – Swindon Advertiser. “Officers and staff will begin using town libraries as ‘touchdown points’ where they can engage with the public in their communities. “

Government does not lie overly much about libraries in Lords statement


It’s no surprise when a government spokesman says how they’re big believers and funders in libraries. Any government is accomplished at massaging the truth and the person in question may even have believed it. The line about wanting libraries to “thrive” is directly out of the Ed Vaizey playbook, circa 2012, and the bias shown towards “commissioned” libraries (that is, those not directly by councils) has been part of the agenda for about the same length of time.

What is surprising is that, actually, public libraries – with obvious exceptions (Northants, Essex, Hampshire, Bradford etc) – are actually doing a lot better than they have done for a while. I mean by that simply they’re not facing massive cuts in funding but, at least, it’s something. The “changes by local authority” below is almost all good news, or at least it is at first look.

Another thing is the statement that the government has only recently got to know exactly how many libraries there are. This struck me as wrong at the time – precise figures have been quoted for as long as I can remember – but apparently the number until recently has been a bit of a con tick, with the bete noire CIPFA being their normal selves when it came to accuracy.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brutal Tory library cuts slash 10 million books from shelves – Mirror. “More than 10 million books have been axed from libraries across England since the Tories came to power. Brutal Tory cuts have led to nearly a million children’s books lost.” … “Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan said: “Libraries are precious community assets, but a decade of Tory austerity cuts to council budgets has taken its toll on local services.”
  • Children who own books six times more likely to read above expected level, survey finds – Independent. “The findings come as hundreds of libraries across the country have been forced to close amid spending cuts. “
  • Digital Inclusion and How to Address It – Lorensbergs. “orensbergs co-facilitated a workshop with Brent Libraries on Digital Literacy Skills for the Otherwise Disenfranchised. 20 library authorities were in attendance and we covered a lot of ground. Here’s some of the key areas discussed and ideas shared, with slides available for download at the end of the page.”
  • Let’s create – Arts Council England. Strategy 2020-30. “We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across the country”.
  • Lord John Bird has taken the battle for library funding to the Lords – Big Issue. “The Big Issue has long been fighting the corner for libraries. Lord Alan Haworth alluded to many of the reasons why in the short debate. Libraries are “for more than just books, they are for digital skills, accessing benefits, keeping warm and finding human kindness”, according to the Labour peer.
  • Public Libraries – Question – House of Lords. Lord Bird asks about public libraries following CILIP report. Baroness Baran replies government is aiming to see libraries thrive and are investing in local government and £125m into museums and libraries specifically. She goes on to say that they now know how many libraries there are, unlike “not so long ago”. 25% of libraries have seen visits grow since 2005 and that “the successful libraries are the ones that are being most innovative in responding to the needs of their communities, including in digital literacy and other services that they offer.” with “commissioned libraries” doing especially well.
  • Simon Armitage: ‘I think poetry is our greatest and most democratic art form’ – I. ““I am trying to do this in a kind of A-Z way. So, this year the libraries I’ll be visiting all begin with either A or B including Aberdeen, Belfast, Bootle, the British Library and two or three others. I’m aiming to do the great and the small – the big flagship national and city libraries but also really small rural ones, and I’d love to maybe visit a mobile library in the Outer Hebrides or somewhere.””
  • Steel and Butler join Reading Agency – BookSeller. “The Reading Agency has appointed former librarian Louisa Steel as head of engagement (adults) and Hayley Butler as head of marketing . The charity said the new appointments will support The Reading Agency’s mission to ensure everyone across the UK is reading their way to a better life.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – City council leaders say they “should be thanked” for keeping libraries open – Bristol Live. “A masterplan to make Bristol’s libraries fit for the future has received a mixed reaction amid fears their long-term survival remains uncertain. City council leaders have launched a four-year strategy and say they should be thanked for their “astonishing achievement” in keeping all 27 branches open, despite planning to close all but 10 of them in 2017, an idea they abandoned following a deluge of objections. But opposition councillors say the glossy 24-page document is not really a strategy but a “series of aspirations” that does not guarantee each library’s future.”. Hopes include “wifi printing for users at every branch, longer non-staffed opening hours and extra services from partners such as health, employer support and debt advice.”
  • Bromley – Eight-month strike by Bromley library workers ends after agreement reached with employers – London News. “The new agreement reached includes new staffing structures being introduced and no compulsory redundancies. An agreement has also been reached on pay progression and arrears payments.”
  • Darlington – Children gearing up to launch Darlington’s BookFest – Northern Echo.
  • Flintshire – Flint Library transformed after £360,000 worth of upgrades – Leader. “Aura Leisure and Libraries secured £300,000 of funding for improvement works at Flint Library through a successful capital grant application to the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD). In addition to the £300,000, both Aura and Flintshire Council contributed to the development, totalling £360,000 in new investment. ” … “… community kitchen and heritage exhibition area. The children’s library, training rooms and main library, have also been redesigned and renovated in order to create more flexible community spaces. Along with the refurbishments, Aura has implemented brand new self-service machines “
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Look inside the newly renovated Shepherds Bush Library as council promises roof won’t leak – Gotech Daily. £150k refurbishment. “an additional floor, a “warmer and more versatile” children’s library, and more study space”. Hammersmith and Fulham Council said they had “repaired multiple leaks” in the building and sealed heating grates and floor boxes that had become a “trip hazard”.
  • Hampshire – Community unites in fight for libraries – Basingstoke Observer. “The Friends of Chineham Library organised a ‘Big Read In’ to demonstrate the importance of the library to the community. The event took place on February 4th to coincide with Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) public consultation drop in session.”
    • Petition launched to stop library cuts – Newbury Today. Kingsclere: “In an effort to retain the council’s support, library committee member Sarah Davis created the petition last week and it has already received more than 350 signatures.”
  • Hertfordshire – Outsourcing of library service delayed as new group not set up yet – Watford Observer. “Libraries for Life – a public sector mutual set up by Hertfordshire County Council – was awarded the contract to run the county’s 46 libraries last year. And the organisation had been expected to take over the service on December 1. But now it has emerged the transfer of the service has been delayed until April, amid fears that neither organisation was ready. “
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council budget reverses £370,000 library cuts – Chronicle. “Kirklees Council has reined back on plans to find savings of £370,000 within its libraries service. Instead it will plough the money into an ongoing revamp focusing on libraries acting as hubs for a range of services such as the voluntary and community sector, primary care and communities teams. The redesign by Kirklees Council’s chief librarian, Carol Stump, focuses on the “wider community function” including more volunteer input.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire’s mobile libraries to expand their routes – Garstang Courier. “fter deciding last year to reduce the frequency of mobile visits from fortnightly to every three weeks – a change which will commence in June – the authority has found that it will have spare capacity to extend the coverage provided across the county. The trial services will be run on two half days when a vehicle would not otherwise be in use. The new stops will be served for a period of six months and then assessed to determine whether there is enough demand to make them permanent.”
  • Leicester – Library shows off its £180,000 facelift – Leicester City Council. “During a 12-week programme of works which began last autumn, the public library space was fully refurbished to provide a modern, flexible library space.  The improved layout includes a new children’s area, an improved study space and open areas to meet and read.  Accessible toilets were installed, and charging points were added for people who want to bring their own laptops into the library.”
  • Norfolk – D-Tech International to install 95 kiosks in UK libraries – Kiosk Marketplace. “supply 95 self-service kiosks to 47 Norfolk County Council Libraries in Norfolk, U.K. It is the provider’s biggest ever roll-out, according to a press release. The new installations replace existing self-service units which are out of contract at the end of March 2020.”
  • Northamptonshire – Desborough town council criticised for ‘mis-using’ its power over library issue – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Desborough Town Council was widely criticised last night (February 3) by members of Kettering Council’s standards committee for its latest decision to flout the recommendation made last August by the council’s monitoring officer, that town councillors who are also library trustees should not have a say on the town council’s funding decisions to do with the library.”
    • Thrapston Town Council withdraws from library purchase – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Thrapston Town Council has decided to withdraw from a deal to buy the town’s library building. In March 2018, the council had agreed to purchase the library building and surrounding land to secure it as a public asset for the town. It was hoped to use the premises as a community hub but the council has assured the public a library service will continue in Thrapston.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Libraries and museums to open late due to Culture Perth and Kinross staff training – Daily Record.
  • Sheffield – “SOS call for libraries” Star / Letters. “Sheffield Libraries SOS argues that in light of the facts that the funding for volunteer libraries comes up for renewal this year, book loans are down dramatically since the transfer to volunteers and that whole swathes of the city do not have access to a staffed library service, that now is the right time for Sheffield Libraries to start running all libraries with council staff once again and to reintegrate all 16 co-delivered and associate libraries back into the council library service.”
    • Lowedges Library – South Sheffield. “spearheading our project to open a new branch library in Lowedges in partnership with the LBJ Forum … In these times of declining book borrowing and library closures, opening a new one is a bold step ― one that reflects our growing confidence as an organisation since taking over Greenhill Library five years ago.”
    • Sheffield library volunteers named community champions – Star. “A Sheffield library has been named The Moor Community Award champion, thanks to the dedication of its team of volunteers who refused to let reading become a dying hobby.”
  • Northamptonshire – Still a chance Higham Ferrers library could re-open in former building – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “strategic libraries manager Anne Lovely says a library council could still remain in the old building. Speaking at the opening of the new community library in Rothwell last Friday she said: “I’m still hopeful and I don’t give up on a library.”
  • RotherhamHave your say on £7m Rotherham libraries shake-up – Rotherham Advertiser. “Rotherham Council will invest £7 million across the 15 centres, including moving town centre provision from Riverside to the markets. The public now has a final chance to give its opinions about the future role of libraries and the improvements being made.” … “A staffless libraries pilot project — using card entry, CCTV and self-service machines — is also planned for three centres.” … “Meanwhile, a separate consultation has been opened for Brinsworth, where the proposal is for the new £270,000 library to be run by a community trust with support from RMBC.”
  • Sunderland – Delay to the opening of Sunderland’s Elephant Tea Rooms as city’s Local Studies Library – Sunderland Echo. “The Grade II-listed Elephant Tea Rooms on the corner of Fawcett Street and High Street West has been bought by Sunderland City Council who last year revealed plans to open a local studies library in the space”
  • Warrington – Lucy, 82, is town’s champion book borrower – Warrington Worldwide. 310 books read in one year. “In total the number of books read by the top dozen borrowers was 2,659 – on average 221 books per person.”
  • West Sussex – All libraries closed on Monday 10 February for IT implementation – District Post. New computer system.
  • WorcestershireLabour call for investment in libraries and transport ahead of budget meeting – Redditch Standard. “The Leader of the Labour group, Redditch Councillor Robin Lunn, said his party would be calling for the county to use its higher than expected rate of council tax collection to spend an extra £500,000 on boosting key library services with cash to buy new books and new e-books for online readers. County libraries have been under increasing financial pressure in recent years and the group is also calling for a £50,000 marketing campaign to promote the modern benefits they offer.”

ACE strategy, Instagram and Bromley


It’s good to see Arts Council England emphasising public libraries in its new strategy. As the major “extra” funder of the sector, its influence has been felt over the last decade too often in the form of promising but, ultimately, quickly forgotten one-offs and innumerable small theatre shows. Recently this has changed with longer term and larger scale funding. Whether the new focus will mean more of that or, simply, we get yet more such flashes in the pan remains to be seen.

It’s also pleasant to see Libraries Connected moving forward with new appointments. I was lucky enough to attend training at Broadcasting House on Wednesday, as part of an ACE funded partnership with the BBC. The main takeaways from me from it was in terms of social media (it’s engagements not follows that matter, Instagram is the third platform we need to get into) and that we need to, gosh, think of the target audience when promoting events. By the way, if you’re looking for good library Instagram accounts, a quick enquiry on Twitter told me that plymlibraries, Bolton_library, toonlibraries, manclib_archives, dokk1aarhus, greenwichlibs, Christchurchlib, Redbridgelibs, Eveshamlib and leedslibraries are worth a glance. And also you can’t go wrong with BookFaceFriday pictures.

Finally, possibly the longest library strike in recent times is now over, with the Unite union claiming victory in Bromley.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts Council England commits to library investment boost in 10-year plan – BookSeller. “: “We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across this country. They are the country’s most widespread and well-used cultural spaces, sitting at the heart of communities and often providing the first point of access to cultural activity. They help to build stronger, happier communities, support social prescribing, develop readers and promote digital literacy. They will be central to our delivery of this strategy, and over the next 10 years we will increase our investment in them.”
  • CWA Dagger in the Library – Crime Writers Association. Your chance to nominate. “The Dagger in the Library is a prize for a body of work by a crime writer that users of libraries particularly admire. Only librarians can nominate authors for the award. It is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the UK …”
  • Radiohead launched an online ‘public library’ with rare tracks and a printable library card – Verge. “… the clever touch emphasizes how much the Radiohead Public Library (henceforth RPL) does feel like browsing a particularly chaotic research archive. And just like a library, it can point you toward some of the band’s lesser-known work — including its debut album Drill.
  • We’re growing – Libraries Connected. “We’re delighted to announce the appointment of three new roles within the Libraries Connected team to help us to deliver these pieces of work. The new roles are all home-based, which has allowed us to attract talented people from around the country.”

International news

  • Canada – Advocates stick up for libraries amid possible cuts – Chronicle Journal. “The Thunder Bay Public Library board, together with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3120 have responded to the city’s proposed cuts to the library budget, which may result in the elimination of an entire branch.  “Bad things happen when public libraries are closed,” said John Pateman, the city library’s chief executive officer and chief librarian, in a news release. Pateman says he has seen it before where “hundreds of public libraries have closed and thousands of library workers have lost their jobs” in the U.K.”

Local news by authority

Dependent on volunteers


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

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

Changes by local authority

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

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

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

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

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

Share the Vision are specifically hoping that Libraries will:

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

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

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

Actions and available resources

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

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

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

Ideas for activities

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

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

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

· Run or raise awareness of an accessible book group

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

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

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

Visit www.readingsight.org.uk for more information

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

Mark McCree, Chair, Share The Vision

National news

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

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

Sarah Curran of Trafford Libraries

International news

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

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

Local news by authority

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

Library manager Stephanie Tee on new Barton Library