Being thankful for having to wait until 4 July


The governmental advice on responding to Coronavirus is changing rapidly, as is to some extent the scientific evidence and – certainly – my understanding of what is going on. Much of the science I have seen lately – contrary to what I was seeing at the start – says that, while the virus can stay on surfaces for a long time, the chances of actually being infected by it is far smaller than that caused by airborne/human contact. This is good news for those of us working out how to quarantine returned books as it’s interesting to note that several foreign libraries – including from tomorrow the not-so-foreign Isle of Man – won’t be quarantining books at all.

They may be taking a big chance with this but not as big as those in England would be if we had to be open. The Isle of Man for example hasn’t had a new case in ten days and no Western European country comes close to the current British infection/death figures. While looking at the pictures of people happily mingling on British beaches this weekend (damn you Cummings and Johnson) and hearing stories of crowded shops not far away from where I live, it’s clear that there’s a danger this thing is not over yet. Hopefully, by the time English libraries are allowed to reopen on 4 July, the figures will have gone down enough for us to be far more confident than we would be if were reopening this week. On the other, far more pessimistic hand, if a second wave does result from the (what would be in this scenario) the reckless premature reopening of the country, then libraries will hopefully be able to take that into account.

Either way, English libraries should see the next month as a gift. As a chance to make sure that their procedures are robust, that frontline staff are consulted (for it is they who will risk their lives) and that there are well-planned options for the various infection scenarios. After all, it is an option that our schools, to their horror, have not had. Let’s be grateful. And make sure we get it right.

"The home of multi access content " - RB Digital advert

National news

  • First Ambassadors Announced for 2020 Summer Reading Challenge – Reading Agency. “Jacqueline Wilson, Paul O’Grady, Cressida Cowell, Charlie Condou, Philip Ardagh, David Baddiel, Rob Biddulph, Sam and Mark, Hacker T Dog, Ben Fogle, Joseph Coehlo, Katie Thistleton, Harry Baker and Konnie Huq confirmed to support Summer Reading Challenge 2020.” … “he launch will feature special super silly readings, family activities and draw-a-longs from guest celebrities and authors. Over the summer, libraries will continue to run the Challenge in partnership with The Reading Agency, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms, and adapting their delivery if social distancing measures develop and change.”
  • Libraries Hub – Libraries Week. 5-10 October. “Library staff can register now to take part in Libraries Week 2020 and follow @librariesweek to keep informed about this year’s campaign. Follow the links below to discover posters, editable templates and social media graphics in five eye-catching designs, available in English and Welsh.”
  • Libraries of Sanctuary – “Following on from earlier work, such as Welcome To Your Library, public libraries are now working with City of Sanctuary to develop their provision. Thimblemill Library has been recognised as the UK’s first Library of Sanctuary, and we are now building on this experience to support other libraries that also want to become Libraries of Sanctuary. Our resource pack has been produced to support public libraries in this process. It includes detailed information on how a library can meet the requirements to learn about offering sanctuary, embed this learning in their institution, and to share their learning and opportunities with the wider community.”
  • When will libraries open? The latest UK lockdown news on public libraries reopening – and how new rules could work – I. Useful summary of the current situation.
Advert for DCA "We are DCA and we work to increase the visibility of libraries"

International news

  • Canada – Quebec’s museums, libraries and drive-ins can reopen May 29 – CBC. “Libraries across the province will also operate differently when they reopen. The public will only be permitted to access a designated area around service counters, and will not be able to browse the library’s book aisles. Visitors will also not be able to use library computers. The CNESST recommends, if possible, that returned books are not touched for 24 hours.”
  • Denmark – Official guidelines for reopening of the Danish libraries – Christian Lauersen. “The guidelines should be seen in context of the general situation in Denmark which is, that the country is reopening rapidly these days; libraries, museums, schools, institutions of education and research, bars, restaurants and a lot of other institutions are opening up again.” No quarantine of books.
  • “The directors of Utrecht, Cologne, and Aarhus public libraries, share their experiences of re-opening their library services under different constraints and regulations prompted by questions from Storyhouse in Chester and Manchester public libraries as the UK anticipates opening their libraries”
  • FinlandCovid-19 and Finnish public libraries – Libraries.Fi. “on 4 May the government allowed all public libraries to restart their lending services immediately. The decision allowed libraries to offer limited services whilst the library premises remain largely closed until 1 June.” … “Turku City Library started daily morning coffee sessions on Instagram Live from the very first closure day.” … “Helsinki City Library started streaming regular literature programmes with guest authors as of 20 March.” … “An agreement between the Finnish Consortium of Public Libraries and the publishers’ association was reached on 22 April. This allowed all public libraries to produce videos containing copyrighted literature and images for periods of two months”. Initially, “all seating and tables may have been removed from library premises, and all areas except for collection areas are locked or fenced off so people do not stay and spend excess time in the library.”

“The experiences from the first week of gradual restricted opening of libraries’ lending services show that, even though the feedback from library users has been overwhelmingly delighted and excited, libraries have not experienced a rush of booklovers crowding the partly-opened libraries.”

  • Global – You can’t keep a good public library (locked) down – Princh. “This week’s great blog post was written by EIFL team, who put together valuable information about how libraries around the world are supporting their communities during COVID-19. As they mention in their website “COVID-19 has closed doors but it hasn’t stopped public libraries from serving their communities.””
An artist asked the occupants of this building in Utrecht what their favourite books were and then painted them … see this link.
  • New Zealand – Budget 2020 announcement: Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery – Libaries Aotearoa / Lianza. “A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin. This package provides for free internet access in all public libraries to ensure that anyone can access the online services and information they need. “It also recognises the role that librarians play in providing this support. Half of this funding, $30 million, will ensure around 170 librarian jobs are directly protected” (resulting in at least one “upskilled” librarian in every local authority across the country).” [This would be £390 million if scaled up to UK size and converted into pounds. Extra resources for English libraries currently stands at £151k, 2582 times smaller – Ed.]

Local news by authority

Advert for DCA "We are DCA and we work to increase the visibility of libraries"

What does “open” mean under the Cummings Government?


The big question about the reopening of public libraries in England under the Cummings Government isn’t when it is legal to do so – currently 4 July – but rather what “open” means and what will happen if the rules are broken. After all, Westminster Libraries have been happily providing library computer access for weeks without any trouble even though it has questionable legality.

Up and down the country councils are working out what reopening means. Most are waiting for the Libraries Connected guidelines but some are not – Nottinghamshire is the first I am aware of to announce what it will be doing in July. And what it will be doing looks more than expected: not just click and collect but actual public access to collections, albeit with limited public numbers allowed. Now, there’s no way such public access can guarantee Covid-free stocks – after all, one member of the public wandering around touching random books (and they so will) will void any quarantining beforehand – but that’s not a legal problem that will stop their plans. Because the law is not there, in this and so much else, as can be seen by the leader of the current government happily going on TV today to explain his trip to Durham was fine, because … well, because. However, to be fair, Notts may be justified – Denmark is reopening its libraries with no stock quarantine at all – possibly because recent evidence suggests contamination is mainly by air particles. And those Libraries Connected guidelines will just be guidelines: councils can actually ignore them and do what they want.

This easy-going approach represents real dangers to staff, the public and to the reputation of the library service. People need to know libraries are safe, be they visitors or workers. But they will not get such assurance from the government, who apparently find the intricacies of ruling rather bothersome – so they will need to get it from Libraries. If you are involved in reopening plans, you therefore need to factor in health and safety into your plans and not expect clear national rules. Because “danger of death” has never been a Universal Offer or an employment condition for the sector, and it should not start now.

"Discover the library in your pocket" RB Digital Advert

National news

  • Annual public library loans figures reveal the UK’s most borrowed e-books for the first time – British Library. “For the first time, the annual public library loans data – released today for the period covering July 2018 – June 2019 – includes figures on e-book borrowing as well as print books, audiobooks and regional borrowing.” … “Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said: “It is brilliant that, thanks to digital services, so many people can still engage with their local library and enjoy the nation’s most popular titles. E-books are a fantastic way to entertain and educate, especially as we spend more time at home.” E-book most lent list is significantly different to printed list [perhaps due to borrowing restrictions? – Ed.]
  • DCA brings bestselling multimedia kids app to UK public libraries – DCA. “Brighton & Hove libraries have partnered with local charity Amaze to target the offer to families with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  This is one of the first times that a UK library has prioritised access to specific content directly to vulnerable families and is a great example of how libraries support their local communities.”. Richmond, Camden, Slough and Brighton & Hove now use Hopster.
  • Health on the Shelf – SLIC. “Public libraries provide a population-scale platform for population-scale public health issues. With 50% of people in Scotland using public libraries, they provide substantial reach through their core services, such as books and computers, as well as through tailored health and wellbeing services …”
  • Libraries to adopt ‘safety first’ approach for July reopenings – BookSeller. Isobel Hunter says ““Reopening libraries has to be a phased process in line with the latest safety advice and all planning should be based on risk assessments, carried out with staff, unions and health and safety teams. It is also critical that libraries are given enough notice about reopening to properly prepare their buildings and their staff to keep everyone safe.” … “Nick Poole, c.e.o of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, said the safety of both users and staff must be the “primary concern” when it comes to the strategy for reopening libraries. He emphasised to The Bookseller it is a “‘can’ open, not a ‘will’ or a ‘must’” from 4th July …”

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to prioritise libraries for early re-opening as lockdown restrictions are lifted; and what discussions they have had with the Local Government Association on this issue.” Lord Bird – They Work For You.

Advert for DCA "We are DCA and we work to increase the visibility of libraries"

International news

  • Australia – Libraries reopen with easing of restrictions – Public Libraries Connect. “Customers have been welcomed back inside in some areas; while, in others, it’s a ‘click & collect’ service only. Some libraries are operating on regular hours, others on reduced hours.” … “For those allowing public access, a popular choice has been to encourage or enforce time limits, with restrictions between 15 to 30 minutes noted across the state.” … “Social distancing regulations mandate a maximum of 10 customers per space; though, for some smaller libraries, this number is less”
  • Canada – All the things the library has done for Halifax residents since shutting its doors for COVID-19 – The Coast. “It’s problem solving in real-time, with residents stuck at home but screaming for services, and it’s working. “As we have pivoted,” Kachan said, “the things we are doing are resonating with our community.””
  • Global – 184: Matt Finch – Circulating Ideas. “Steve chats with strategy & foresight consultant Matt Finch about what scenario planning is and why libraries need to be doing it, some of the big ideas libraries need to be thinking about, working remotely during a pandemic, and exploring Library Island.”. Including working out why libraries should be doing something e.g. podcasts and not others.
    • Global – COVID-19 and the Global Library Field – IFLA. “The information and resources below are provided on a non-exhaustive basis but will be updated regularly. It is based on publicly available information, and that submitted to We welcome additional ideas, references, suggestions and corrections to this address. Please see also our  FAQs specifically concerning IFLA”
  • Japan – The Traveling Library Truck – NHK World. 24 minute video. “For 3 days, we follow a library truck stocked with 2,800 books. In Matsuyama City, a public truck service has been delivering books to the surrounding mountains and islands for 45 years.””
  • New Zealand – Even in the worst-case scenario – Public Libraries Magazine. “What are public libraries meant to do for their communities? How does the changing nature of our community also change our mission? And when crisis strikes, disrupting the assumptions, routines, and procedures of “business as usual,” what is the impact on the social role of our institution?” … “No library service seeks to be tested in the ways cities like Christchurch and Ferguson have been, but in such moments, hidden aspects of libraries’ social role are made starkly manifest, offering lessons for us all”
    • Libraries Offer Limited Service From Monday 25 May – Scoop. “District Libraries Manager Glenn Webster says from Monday people will be able to return library items via the after-hours facility, borrow items, request items and collect held items.” … ““People will have to show their library card to enter, so we can ‘contact trace’ if required. Only one family member is allowed at one time and the time spent in the library is limited.””
    • Reopening Libraries in New Zealand: Slow and Steady Wins The Race – Justin the Librarian. “One of the things I’ve noticed in our first week of being open back up to the public is just how un-library-like our library feels as we adjust to being open” … “We were expecting a ton of materials to be returned to our libraries, but we’ve noticed that instead of it being too much it has just been a good and steady stream of returns.” …. “At the core of everything I am hoping to continually broadcast a message of kindness and communication.”
  • USA – Is It Safe to Go Back to My Local Library? – City Life. “the biggest risk involved with libraries reopening is simply the fact that, like every other business, they are enclosed, indoor spaces where people will gather. It’s therefore crucial that both library workers and patrons wear masks, that high-touch surfaces are regularly disinfected, and that strict capacity limits are enforced,” … “you can at least rest assured that your library books aren’t likely to carry terrifying diseases into your home.”

I see conversations on Twitter where library employees are in tears because they are considered at-risk for COVID-19, yet their libraries are forcing them to choose between their jobs and their lives.

Local news by authority

A slow safe move towards normality, whatever that means


The thoughts of many in the library sector this week are with how to safely reopen libraries while Coronavirus is still endemic and killing hundreds each day. It’s not easy but the clear tone of everything I am hearing and seeing is that it’s safety first. No-one is rushing gung-ho into endangering staff and the public and the process – even barring a likely upsurge in cases due to the obviously premature reopening of schools – towards normality will likely come in slow stages over a period of months or a year. Whatever “normality” means.

National news

  • Benevolent Fund support during COVID-19 – CILIP. “The CILIP Benevolent Fund Trustees have agreed an emergency interim policy to ensure that they are able to maximise the support available to CILIP members during the disruption caused by COVID-19 and coronavirus.”

Arts Council England is working with Shared Intelligence to undertake research into the impact of public library services on employment among their users, specifically those who are out of work or who are economically inactive. As part of this work, Shared Intelligence would like to convene a small group of Heads of Service to act as a reference point for quick testing of ideas, questions and findings, and to help identify examples of practice. Specifically, we would be looking for the group to come together three times throughout this work: At the end of phase 1 to discuss findings from scoping activities (including an national survey of library services and a literature review). At the end of phase 2 to discuss findings and results from conversations with key ‘decision-makers’. At the beginning of phase 4 (the final reporting stage), once all fieldwork data has been gathered and collated. Due to the current situation, the group will look to be convened virtually (most likely through Zoom). Please contact if you are interested in taking part or have any questions.

  • British Library asks nation’s children to write miniature books in lockdown – Guardian. “The library is conscious that during lockdown “a high proportion of children do not have access to computers, and that many do not have art materials”, so it will also be distributing a printed pack through public libraries, food banks and sheltered accommodation, and emailing PDFs to teachers nationwide.”
  • Health and Libraries – “We hope to set up a network of interesting and interested people who can meet in Libraries nationally and offer workshops, consultation and projects.”

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to assist libraries to loan more audio books and e-books during the COVID-19 pandemic; and what conversations, if any, they have had with the publishing industry about that issue.” Lord Bird. Government response notes £151k from Arts Council England. They Work For You.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the loss of access to public library computer terminals during the covid-19 outbreak on the (a) education and (b) mental wellbeing of autistic children and young dependent adults from households with no access to a computer or smartphones.” Caroline Lucas MP. Government response is note use of social media and plan to provide laptops to children. They Work For You.

  • Safety first: The recovery of library services – Libraries Connected. “We are also feeding concerns up to DCMS and into the central government machine that is developing guidance, so we can ensure the specific needs of the library environment are being considered. With 174 million library visits last year – libraries are incredibly busy sites where people from all backgrounds meet closely together, so could also be significant sites for virus transmission if the risks are not fully understood and controlled.”

“The Recovery Toolkit will look in detail at all aspects of library operation to identify risks, and suggest mitigation strategies and work arounds, and provide useful checklists and links to relevant guidance and further reading. It will be designed to be deployed flexibly, as every library service will have to tailor planning to its own risk assessments, available resources and local priorities of need.”

  • Tim Coates – Digital Content Associates. “Has libraries’ focus on social issues and activities come at the expense of their core mission to provide access to content and promote reading? Book trade veteran and library campaigner, Tim Coates, thinks so and has published the Freckle Report to prove it. We ask Tim why he thinks libraries are failing and what can be done about it.”

International news

  • Australia – Supporting Library Staff during #COVID19 Lockdown – Medium. “The staff Wellness Community Hub that our People and Culture team have developed is a place staff can go to to share and talk about the challenges, coping mechanisims and daily hacks they use to get through the day. Staff are encouraged to send photos or contribute to some conversations about their lives when working from home.”
  • Denmark – ”There is a crack in everything – that is how the light gets in”. Experiences with reopening libraries in the age of corona – Library Lab. “Denmark are slowly reopening and so are the libraries. This blog post will be about our practical considerations and actions on reopening libraries in Roskilde Municipality after almost two months of lockdown due to coronavirus.”
  • EU Coronavirus: How lockdown is being lifted across Europe – BBC. Italy opens libraries from 18 May, Netherlands from 11 May, Austria from 18 May.
    • Public Libraries in Europe and COVID-19: Findings from NAPLE Members, April 2020 – NAPLE. “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began to lead to closures of library buildings to the public at the start of March 2020. The following document summarises the measures taken in response to the virus by public libraries in 20 NAPLE member countries to date[1], with specific focus on the extent of closures across Europe; the engagement of staff during closures; services offered to the public (both physical and online) while buildings were closed; quarantining of books and other health and safety measures; efforts by libraries to support national healthcare initiatives; and library efforts to address misinformation about the COVID-19 virus.”
    • Libraries as gardens – “Libraries as Gardens is a creative project that wants to geolocate and map, on a global scale, the before, during and after of the coronavirus lockdown, through sound recordings and the stories of people, told and read in the libraries of their houses during the pandemic and about the public gardens that they remember. The recordings are simultaneously transferred in an augmented audio project, creating sound walks for the future, in the gardens when they open again, made available (for free) through CGeomap for all their walkers”
  • Netherlands – The library is open: what does that actually mean? – Rafelranden. “in the reopening protocols, drawn up by the VOB (Dutch Public Library Association), on the phased reopening of libraries, the primary focus is on the collection and the provision of lending materials, also with regard to the protocol for welcoming primary school pupils (“what children can do in the library (looking for books, being read to) is for each library to decide for themselves”..) “
  • New Zealand – “New adventures in disasterology”: Learning from crisis with Christchurch Libraries – Matt Finch. “I think big learnings from this time are that libraries most certainly have a role to play, we need to be able to adapt for and listen to communities who are going through traumatic events, we need to be willing to try things out and experiment, we need to have our Business Continuity Plans (and all other plans) up to date and have them handy in a variety of formats.”
    • An open book: All you need to know for your library visit – Newsline. ““We are introducing a range of measures, including restricting the number of people within library spaces at any one time, along with the duration of visits. We also need to meet contact tracing requirements, so all visitors will need to sign in – and out”
  • Global – Market overview – Local Government Library Technology. “The library technology industry, broadly speaking, shows more affinity toward utility than innovation. Library automation systems are not necessarily exciting technologies, but they are workhorse applications that must support the complex tasks of acquiring, describing, and providing access to materials and services.”
  • USA – Libraries have spent years reinventing themselves. Will they have to do it again? – Marketplace. “The Boston Public Library, for example, has been working on developing more affordable housing to sit atop some of its branches. The Austin Public Library offers citizenship courses for immigrants and hosts naturalization ceremonies. And the Bristol Public Library in Indiana, like many others, allows patrons to check out baking equipment to use at home. A lot of these new changes mean that people spend more time in libraries.” 4 minute interview. Started “curbside” delivery with masks/rubber gloves delivered in bag to car on demand.
  • Chicago Public Library Calls Staff Back to Work, Plans Full Reopen June 1 – Book Riot. “The Chicago Public Library system, however, is handling this a little differently, endangering the health and well-being of their staff, as well as the communities in which they aim to serve.” … “Gloves are helpful only if they’re disposed of between interactions. Will CPL be providing a day’s worth of gloves? What about enough masks for the realities of working with the public for 8 hours in one? What happens if a staff member wearing a mask sneezes while it’s on?”

Local news by authority

Don’t mess it up now: Libraries may reopen during the pandemic


I attended, virtually, of course, the “Libraries after Covid” digital “thinkin” last week, organised by Tortoise in partnership with Libraries Connected. The session was well-attended, with over 400 apparently watching, but it was a bit derailed as it was already evident that the Government was keen on opening up the country before the lethal pandemic had passed. So it was more a case of “Libraries during Covid”.

The overwhelming sense I got from the session and from reading about the library situation nationally and internationally is that health and safety should come first. After all, if reopening public libraries could potentially kill someone, then we are doing it wrong. This will probably involve reopening in stages, with perhaps a click and collect service coming first, and limited use of the personal computers, with a “normal” service being many months away.

And then the Prime Minister came on TV this evening. It was all a bit confusing but it looks like public services may (or may not if things go wrong) start reopening from July, whatever that means. However, being that one of the steps in June is allowing 4 to 6 year olds back to school, its quite likely things will go wrong. After all, many four year olds can barely remember to use the toilet all the time, let alone socially distance, and they will be in contact presumably with thirty others, teachers and, when they get home, parents and grandparents. Quarantining it is not.

A fifty page document is being released tomorrow and it may have more information in it about libraries but, whatever we do, one hopes that it will be safety first, of staff and the public. This needs to be mixed with our very important social mission of course so this will be a challenge. But nothing about the current situation isn’t challenging. Libraries have done better in the last couple of months than we could have guessed or hoped for beforehand. So let’s not mess it up now, for this could be life and death important.

National news

  • £18m support for the culture, creative and sport sector in Wales – Welsh Government. “£250k Digital Library Resources, which will enable public libraries to provide additional digital resources to the public and gives people resources to read and engage with whilst self-isolating.” and “£1m Cultural Resilience Fund for museums, collections, conservation services, archives and community and public libraries to respond to short-term pressures and recovery actions on a grant application basis.”

“The prime minister is effectively trying to pull off the impossible. He wants to try to restart normal life, while keeping the virus at bay with limited means to do so. With no vaccine, the government is reliant on containing any local outbreaks. But the problem is that even with the extra testing that has been put in place over the past month, there are big holes in the UK’s ability to suppress the virus.”

BBC Heath Correspondent
  • Lego, learning and laughter: how libraries are thriving in lockdown – Guardian. “The sudden switch from a physical space to online has been challenging for staff and users, but has also highlighted the vital role of library services and the skills of staff. From Orkney’s Lego challenge to Truro’s storytime at home sessions, librarians are coming up with innovative ways to stay engaged with users and each other.”
  • Libraries Give Vital PC Access through the Lockdown – Lorensbergs. “libraries’ physical buildings, their resources and staff are still sorely missed by many of their users and their reopening will be warmly welcomed” … “a small minority of libraries have in fact provided physical access to computers during this time” e.g. Westminster … “, it’s anticipated that home library services involving doorstep deliveries may be among the first services to restart.”

“At the beginning I wanted to assist those in need, but was concerned about my safety and well-being. When I was reassured the staff would be provided with the appropriate PPEs as part of the safety protocol, then I felt safe to go ahead and provide this service. People do respect the distance. The cleaner cleans the PC and chair after each user.”

Westminster member of staff

International news

  • Australia – COVID-19 Infection Prevention Tips for Libraries – Medium / Jane Cowell. “These tips have been developed by a team of dedicated public library staff.”: don’t touch faces, don’t use mobile phones, wash hands, 4 metre separation, gloves when handling returned books, quarantine books for 72 hours, click and collect only,

“After each shift and before breaks keep your gloves on. Spray them with disinfectant then spray down your workstation and wipe after 10 seconds with paper towel. Wipe trolley handles that you have used with disinfectant-soaked paper towel. Then you can remove your gloves.”

“If your plan is to begin reopening as soon as possible, or engaging in curbside soon, then I want to see the library director and administrators on the front lines of service. I want them to be the ones to take books out to the cars, handle materials, and empty book drops.”

Royce Kitts, Director. Liberal Memorial Library. Liberal, Kansas

Local news by authority

Looking forward

This emergency will end sooner or later and, when it does, public libraries better be ready. This is both in terms of safety – we don’t want to infect anyone – and in terms of adjusting to the changes in society over the last few months. One imagines there will be a huge demand for visits to libraries at least initially but as well as that there will be a heightened expectation for our digital offering, which will need to be maintained. This is not going to be easy but it will be necessary.

On a more national scale, the post by Nick Poole below looks at the future of public libraries and how they should be positioned in the future. There is also an update on the much delayed Single Digital Presence – basically a national website for public libraries which would have been superb to have two months ago but looks like still being in pre-development, after at least ten years of research papers and discussion. I don’t blame the British Library for this – they’re doing their best in a systematic way to develop a top quality product – but rather the only people who could realistically pull it off, which is whoever happens to be the libraries minister. They’re the one who needs to bang heads and put money in to get it sorted and I’m not seeing much of that happening now or indeed during this last decade. Hopefully it will be different looking forward.

National news

  • Bibliothèques publiques britanniques contemporaines – Enssib. In French. “This book aims to look back at the massive closures of public libraries in Britain since 2010. What was the timeline of the more than 300 site closures? How can we understand its history and logic? For the first time accessible to French readers, specialized documentation, translated and editorialized, allows us to understand the stakes of the debate on public reading in a country historically spearheaded for its network of libraries. Directed by Cécile Touitou, assisted by Karine Lespinasse, the book brings together a collective of expert authors, French and British”
  • Capturing the Voice of CMLs – Community Libraries Network. ACE/DCMS surveying volunteer library response to Covid emergency.
  • A new future for Public Libraries – Medium / Nick Poole. “ibraries before COVID-19 had been in a kind of limbo. Having left behind the Victorian era that shaped them, with its basic belief in emancipation and education, there was an implicit question hanging over our institutions — “what will you be for, now that I have the world’s knowledge at my fingertips?”” … libraries have never stopped being a place of refuge and empowerment … COVID-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our sector to correct this lingering sense of doubt. We must articulate — loudly and confidently — the role we intend to occupy in the daily lives of every citizen in our fast-moving, connected society. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”

“It is incumbent on every generation to re-shape libraries to meet the emerging needs of their future society. For too long, we have been in thrall to a previous generation’s idea of what public libraries are for. COVID-19 is a tragedy on a global scale. But it might also just be the impetus we need to transform public libraries. Let’s not waste it.”

Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP

“I’d love to be able to fast-track our work. Build the website, develop the app and get library users discovering new titles, connecting with each other and taking part in library activities all in one space online. However as we outlined in our report, a future-proof, sustainable digital platform that increases public library use in the digital and physical world requires a future-proof, sustainable technical infrastructure, supported by ongoing resource, and a clear and accountable delivery model.”

Jacob Fredrickson project manager of the Single Digital Presence project at the British Library.

International news

  • France – Media library in a landscape – Designing Libraries. “Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling window on the ground floor, users have the feeling of reading while being immersed in the surrounding landscape. The upper floor, on the other hand, offers a different experience. Through the curved glass window, the media reference spaces become part of the large crown of the plane tree.”
  • Germany – We are opening the book bus on the Südermarkt for now – Stadt Bibliothek. In German. “With more than 30,000 media items to be returned, we expect a significant influx of visitors and want to reduce the risk of infection for everyone to a minimum. For this reason, we are currently only opening the book bus for picking up pre-ordered media and returns. We will quarantine all returned media for 72 hours.”
  • Global – You can’t keep a good public library (locked) down – Eifl. A look at how libraries across all the world are coping with Covid.
  • USA – Alaska school board removes ‘The Great Gatsby,’ other famous books from curriculum for ‘controversial’ content – NBC News. “”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison were all taken off an approved list of works that teachers in the Mat-Su Borough School District may use for instruction”. Good grief.
    • 2020 Library Systems Report – American Libraries. “Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, acquired Innovative Interfaces and shifted the balance of power, strengthening Ex Libris’s position in technology for academic libraries and propelling it as a major player in public libraries.” … and other changes.
    • Five Unexpected Benefits of Eliminating Library Fines – Infospace. Librarians and staff can provide better service to patrons; Being fine-free is more aligned with the real mission of the library; Libraries seeing an increase in item returns; Libraries can use their resources better; Eliminating fines can lead to a renewed appreciation for the library (or at least provide some good PR)
    • Why You Shouldn’t Do Curbside During COVID-19 | Backtalk – Library Journal. “Part of libraries wanting to implement curbside is to demonstrate our value to our county boards, administrations, and managers, because budget cuts are here and more are coming. But we need to figure out new ways to demonstrate our value without putting peoples’ lives at risk.”

Local news by authority

Another week in


At time of writing, the smart money is on social distancing keeping on for quite a few weeks to come. So much so that it looks likely that the crucial summer period for libraries will be affected. I’m still personally having difficulty working out how the sector will physically reopen with such distancing in place but there’s a lot of thinking going on sector-wide about this, which is really encouraging.

What is obvious now is that this virus is causing a wide spectrum of experiences amongst the public, with the poor and the lonely suffering disproportionately more than the wealthy. This is echoed in library workers with some being told to stay at home on full pay with little work to do, others being able to work full-time at home in some form or another and still yet others taking active physical and, sometimes, front-line roles.

Another variation is in furloughing. Trusts can do this but councils services cannot:

“Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them.”

Coronavirus Retention Scheme.

So we have a case in Greenwich, run by a leisure trust, where staff are furloughed. Thankfully at not 80% pay but, due to a deal which unions hope will be copied elsewhere, on full pay. Speaking of Greenwich, I talked to Diana Edmonds (the Director of Libraries for all GLL) about wider developments and the interview is here.

Finally, my apologies. Embedded below are not just one but two video interviews with me, one from the wonderful Bury Libraries in my capacity as a librarian and the other with a sponsor of PLN, DCA, of which the full length interview will be released shortly. I feel I don’t come across well on video – slightly too many biscuits and an inability to pronounces r’s properly – but watch them if you will.

National news

  • ACE gives libraries £151k for e-books and audio – BookSeller. “Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a £151,000 investment into library services to buy e-books and digital audio products. Under the programme, each of the 151 public library services in England will receive £1,000 for immediate and unrestricted use for new digital stock. ACE said library services had seen a significant rise in membership over the past month, up by 600% compared to this time last year. The investment would help them increase the breadth and availability of digital products while also benefiting publishers through library purchasing, ACE said.”
  • Britons are reading more in lockdown, says survey for World Book Night – Guardian. “The survey is also backed up by figures from libraries around Britain. Although branches are shut, there has been a boom in registrations, according to the Local Government Association, with Hampshire county council reporting a 770% increase in new digital users, Cornwall a 630% increase and Hertfordshire an increase of 332%.”
  • Carnegie Library Lab: Final Project Snapshot from Cohort 3 – Carnegie. “Carnegie Library Lab aimed to support innovation and leadership in the public library sector across the UK and Ireland. This final snapshot outlines the key successes of our third cohort of Carnegie Library Lab Partners and their next steps. The Partners participated in Carnegie Library Lab from June 2018 to December 2019”
  • Coronavirus: Libraries see surge in e-book borrowing during lockdown – BBC. “Loans of online e-books, e-magazines and audiobooks were up an average of 63% in March compared with last year. And 120,000 people joined libraries in the three weeks after lockdown began, Libraries Connected said.”
  • Digital ThinkIn – Libraries after Covid 19 – what happens next? – Libraries Connected. “The event is hosted for us by Tortoise Media and follows a ThinkIn for Heads of Service on 29th April. We hope the two discussions will help us think beyond the current crisis in ways that informs planning in individual services, and also directs the support work of Libraries Connected and other national bodies.”
  • Joseph Coelho to helm National Shelf Service’s World Book Night event – BookSeller. “YouTube book recommendation series the National Shelf Service has announced a series of World Book Night broadcasts, to feature a bedtime reading hour with poet and author Joseph Coelho. Ten broadcasts will be scheduled throughout the day on 23rd April, beginning at 11 a.m. with e-book recommendations for children and young adults from librarians. Coelho will read a bedtime story.”
  • Public library services and Coronavirus, GLL a few weeks in – Public Libraries News. An interview with Diana Edmonds of GLL about how her services are doing.
  • Record number of complaints about LGBT+ children’s books in US – Independent. “children’s books featuring LGBTQ+ characters made up a record 80 percent of the most challenged books in US libraries.”
  • A short reflection on being a Carnegie Partner – Carnegie. By Maria Reguera, Carnegie Partner, Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure. “All in all being a Carnegie Partner has given me the audacity to try and fail, and to learn from it and try again until I succeed, and to encourage others around me to do the same.”
  • Spring 2020 Magazine – Library Campaigner. The latest news and editorial on public libraries in the UK.
  • Stepping into Leadership – Carnegie. “Originally developed as part of the Carnegie Library Lab (CLL), created by the Carnegie UK Trust (CUKT) to encourage creativity, innovation and leadership in public libraries in the UK and Ireland, this course can be accessed by those working in the library and information sector.”

International news

  • JapanJapan: Drone will buzz shelves at Chiba library to check book inventory – Access. “he drone and artificial intelligence (AI) will be adapted to eliminate the troublesome, time-consuming task of regularly examining books at libraries imposed on human staff.”
  • Netherlands – Dutch libraries are open online and provide extra (remote) services – Naples Sister Libraries. “the ThuisBieb-app (Home Library app) was launched for iOS users and contains over a hundred free ebooks.” … “. On March 17, we saw a peak of 43,000 visits a day to the online Library, and in the days that followed, the number stabilized at an average of 32,000 to 35,000 visits per day. We also see a tripling of the page views for e-books.”
  • USALibrarians Under Pandemic Duress: Layoffs, Napkin Masks, and Fear of Retaliation – Book Riot. “Some libraries have their staff working entirely from home, while others have their doors shut to the public but are having staff report. Those operating with staff in the building run the gamut in terms of what they’ve provided their employees in terms of health and safety protection.”
    • Public Libraries After the Pandemic – Publishers Weekly. “, I suspect that Covid-19 will change some people’s perspective on what can and should be shared. I fear many people will begin to overthink materials handling and the circulation of physical library collections, including books. It’s a reasonable assumption that people will emerge from this public health crisis with a heightened sense of risk related to germ exposure.”

“Some observers have dubbed this crisis “The Great Pause.” But I believe librarians cannot pause. Librarians cannot sit back and wait to unlock the library doors again. We must take this time to begin thinking about how public libraries will function in a society that will certainly be changed for the short term, and may be changed forever.”

Local news by authority

“Since closing our physical library buildings in March, we have moved many services online to provide a continuity of service for customers. We are also maintaining book deliveries for vulnerable people who are housebound. While asking to maintain these services, Royal Borough of Greenwich has also asked us to furlough the majority of workers under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which guarantees 80% of staff wages. Funding will come from the Council to top up wages for both casual and permanent staff to full pay.

“We understand the need to offset costs at this time and are grateful to RBG who share our wish to provide valuable public services which support local communities’ health and wellbeing. The decision has been reached with agreement of RBG, GLL and the union and under the circumstances represents the best outcome for library workers, the library service and local communities during the crisis.”

Diana Edmonds, GLL / Greenwich

The new normal, 2020


The last couple of weeks have been marked by the settling down of the new normal. More library staff have been redeployed to other services and more people continue to discover and use library online resources. What’s not yet clear is when libraries will get back to normal and what that will be. Will there need to be screens between more distanced out computers? Should library books have their plastic jackets removed? Who knows. Hopefully, hopefully, we will find out soon.

Take care, keep well.


National news

  • The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award launches despite lockdown – BookSeller. “The coronavirus crisis puts libraries—alongside all the rest of us—in an unprecedented situation. Yet we still want to recognise the crucially important work they do, through thick and thin. A shortlist of outstanding libraries will be profiled in a special issue of The Bookseller to be published in July; that issue will also reveal an overall winner, who will receive a golden Nibbie, the coveted trophy of the British Book Awards, and be named Library of the Year 2020.”
  • CILIP moves celebrations for 2020’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners – BookSeller. “CILIP is postponing the winners’ ceremony for the 2020 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals and extending its Shadowing Scheme until October, taking into account the government’s advice concerning the ongoing pandemic.”
  • Libraries from home – Libraries Connected. “We want to help families to choose live and recorded events not just from their own library service but anywhere in the country. We’re also promoting activities to keep adults connected through library reading groups and book discussion groups.”. Lists five services each doing rhymetimes, storytimes, lego clubs, reading/book groups. Also “efestivals” and code clubs. Also mentions World Book Night and Get Creative At Home. Lists e-resources available.

“Local libraries are important community hubs and a fantastic source of entertainment and education for people. While we all stay at home to protect the NHS and help save lives, I am delighted to see so many libraries increasing their digital offerings through initiatives like this.”

Libraries Minister, Caroline Dinenage:

International news

Local news by authority

"Discover the library in your pocket" RB Digital Advert

Libraries without walls


So a week ago I was worried. I was thinking to myself, well, this website runs news about public libraries – hence its exciting name – and all the libraries closed. Goodbye website for a couple of months.

I could not have been more wrong.

There’s more news this week than in many other weeks where all the 200+ library services in the UK were open. Because, it turns out, all of the services are still open. Just online. Some services are reporting more than a six-fold increase in e-book usage, with more money being invested in their services in a couple of weeks than some spend in a normal year. This is to be expected due to the nature of the crisis – and also due to the, let’s be frank, lack of investment in e-books beforehand. But it suggests that more people may well be into library e-books after this crisis is over and the digital side will be taken more seriously by services. The explosion of creativity in social media – from online theatre shows to story-times to quizzes to reading groups – is also something that is unlikely to be entirely forgotten.

So there will be a challenge mid year and that is that public library services will return to their physical buildings while at the same time having raised public expectations about their digital sides. Keeping both sides up, when budgets are likely to be tight due to having to pay for the crisis, is going to be really difficult. But libraries can do this. After all, if libraries are still doing so well when they’re all closed, nothing is impossible. To help in this, all we need is that Single Digital Presence we have seen delayed for so many years and desperately need now. One of those would take the pressure off the multitude of library services in the Summer. Come on DCMS, you’ve had a decade of not doing it. Do it now.

This post cannot end though without highlighting the work done by library staff that have been redeployed in other services. Some are in food distribution centres, some on Covid helplines and some are even delivering medicine via repurposed mobile libraries. To them, simply, thank you.

National news

  • Are public libraries in decline? – Publishers Weekly. Tim Coates once again boots the sector. “U.K. libraries today have a poor reputation. They have become second-rate community centres. And for that reason public authorities are withdrawing funding,” … “The library service needs to be able to listen to the needs of the public and that information is core to what will happen when Coronavirus ends. It has to find and market a service which brings people into the buildings, and that will be people who want to read. The closures give an opportunity to conduct consumer research that can be used to build a renewal program. We should start work now.””
  • CILIP launches the National Shelf Service to recommend books to children – BookSeller. “CILIP, the UK’s library and information association, has announced the launch of the National Shelf Service, a new daily Youtube broadcast featuring book recommendations from professional librarians. The National Shelf Service will feature one librarian and one book recommendation each day. The broadcast will start on Monday 6th April and continue every weekday at 11am. “
  • Great-grandmother’s secret to beating Covid-19… marmalade sandwiches – Guardian. “There has been a 600% rise in online library membership in some areas of the country, as people turn to e-books and audio books in the coronavirus lockdown. Hampshire county council has had a 770% increase in new digital users, Cornwall council a 630% increase and Hertfordshire county council an increase of 332%, the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed. Councils have been working to provide additional online resources, using the hashtag #LibrariesFromHome to promote their services …”
  • LGA: 600 percent boom in online library memberships in some areas since coronavirus lockdown – LGA. “there has been a boom in new digital users. For example, Hampshire County Council has seen a 770 per cent increase in new digital users, Cornwall Council a 630 per cent increase and Hertfordshire County Council an increase of 332 per cent.”
  • Online filtering service backed in fight against Covid-19 ‘fake news’ – Express and Star. “NewsGuard said libraries across the UK were using its services to help members navigate information sources before the outbreak. But now libraries have closed in response to lockdown measures announced by the Government, the company has removed all of its paywalls to make services free nationwide.”
  • People urged to use free online library services during coronavirus lockdown – Inverness Courier. “The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) is encouraging households to use online library services during strict social distancing rules. Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC, said: “Closing the doors to public libraries is counter-intuitive to everything they stand for. “Fortunately, modern technology means libraries remain accessible …”
  • Responding to Covid 19 – Libraries Connected. Lists publishers who have confirmed video storytelling etc is OK and guide to publishing restrictions.
  • Update on Summer Reading Challenge 2020 plans – Reading Agency. “In light of the current situation affecting the delivery of all public services The Reading Agency, Libraries Connected, Arts Council England and ASCEL have agreed that it will not be possible to deliver the Summer Reading Challenge in its usual print format throughout public libraries this summer. However, we remain committed to improving lives through the proven power of reading, and are working hard to fast track a high-quality digital offer which we plan to offer both to interested library services and direct to the reader.”
  • When things get back to normal, they won’t be – LinkedIn / Liz McGettigan. “Libraries must start now to plan for “The New Normal” because when they do get back to normal they won’t be! People will be hungering for social interaction and connectedness, for kindness, trust, community and social gatherings and we can plan for that now. We are all already hungering for human contact, and places just to be, things to do, people to see! Yes we need to up our game big time on our digital offer but when this is over digital will fail to rival libraries and their staff in these 4 purely human characteristics – Empathy, Sympathy, Passion, Curiosity – we still want access to “actual” people even when digital works perfectly”

International news

“What is the library´s value if they focus on being the middleman between digital content and an online consumer? It isn’t a long term strategy to interpose yourself between the content and the user unless you are adding value, if the physical space has been removed from the chain … There’s a danger in a time of crisis that we rush around like a supermarket shopper panic-buying, swiping things thoughtlessly from the shelves. And we all know what hasty decisions can lead to … A true connection and dialogue between content and user, one of the most important values of the library, is in higher and higher demand.”

“our community members need us more than ever. They need someone to connect with. They need someone to share positivity and hope with them. I can’t think of a better organisation to do that than the public library.”

  • Covid-19’s Impact on Libraries Goes Beyond Books – Wired. ““We cannot create a sense of normalcy for them,” Salazar says. “But we can use this new reality to offer something different. That’s what we’re working on. Many of us are challenged, but we’re coming up with good, creative ideas.””
  • Public Libraries’ Novel Response to a Novel Virus – Atlantic. “America’s public libraries have led the ranks of “second responders,” stepping up for their communities in times of natural or manmade disasters, like hurricanes, floods, shootings, fires, and big downturns in individual lives.”. List of what US libraries are doing for the homeless etc.
  • Starting Thursday, Dolly Parton will read bedtime stories to your kids – CNN. “The nine-time Gramm winner said beginning this Thursday, she will read bedtime stories to children in a new virtual series called “Goodnight with Dolly.” Each week, Parton will read a new book selected from the Imagination Library, her book gifting program which mails free books to children.”

Local news by authority

"The home of multi access content " - RB Digital advert

7 days later: public library reactions to the shutdown


What a week. In seven days that will likely remain in everyone’s memory for life, it started with chief librarians – and frontline staff – arguing vociferously for councils to shut down library services. Boris freaking Johnson then went on television and officially closed the sector for the duration. Whoa.

Then everyone had to get used to the new normal, which included basic precautions not previously seen outside of zombie movies. Those with laptops and jobs they could do at home did so, others did what was necessary at the workplace and then went home. Then came the concept of “furlough” where government give 80% of the salary, the idea of the “shielded” who will have to stay indoors indefinitely and then the need to redeploy staff to other services, prominent amongst them Registrars.

It’s no surprise people were feeling a bit shell-shocked. Several librarians, all of them senior, have confided in me that they’ve never worked so hard before in their lives. Some point out that it’s something there were no plans for this, or case studies, and a bunch has been made up on the fly. It turns out that contingency/scenario planning has not been a strength of government at any level, despite repeated near-miss epidemics in the past. Oh well.

So what will the future bring? In terms of keeping the goodwill of staff, I think the key will be fairness. Walk outs happened in at least one service last week, with more on the cards if things hadn’t changed so much on Monday evening. I can see other such pitfalls for the future and the challenge of management will be to be clear and open with staff. everywhere.

Public libraries will become entirely digital for quite some time. A whole ton of money is going to be spent on e-books and other distance resources that would not have been bought before. Printed books will not be bought in normal quantities for a while. Library staff are taking a crash-course in video rhymetimes, zoom and conferencing. These developments alone will revolutionise the service. Also, nationally, Libraries Connected has discovered it can be an independent voice, which can only be good. And if the Single Digital Presence, or whatever a national libraries website will be called, for libraries doesn’t get off the ground this year then it never will.

And when will libraries reopen? Well, I’m guessing not until Coronavirus is wiped out. Keeping books quarantined for 72 hours after being touched isn’t going to fly (unless we go full closed-access of course, now there’s a thought) and it’s hard to see people, especially children, keeping two metres apart. So not for a few months at least. By that time, society itself may be changed.

So this will be a marathon, not a sprint. The good news is that the sector has shot out from the starting blocks far faster than could reasonably be expected. I look forward to reporting more in the future and have started a list (what else?) here for things that catch my eye.

But whatever the week brings, remember to look after yourself first. These are traumatic times and will not be helped if your ill, with stress or otherwise. Keep well, take care.

Advertisment for RB Digital - Home of multi access content

National news

What are the Government doing about those without internet access? Many people in our communities rely on libraries to access the internet, but now those libraries are closing. What measures will the Government bring in to ensure that people can get online, whether for benefit services or to maintain some form of social contact? These are huge demands being placed on the civil service, and I pay tribute to all those public servants throughout our public administration who are working day and night to establish these schemes. They are not often praised, but they are in this situation.

John McDonnell, 24 March, House of Commons.

Kid Normal E-audiobook now free.

  • UK Libchat Monday 6 April: Virtual Libraries – taking our services online – “The chat sessions start with general introductions and then we move on to the discussion topics.  Please add the questions that you would like to discuss below in under 280 characters.””
  • W H Smith closes 60% of stores as Johnson shuts shops and libraries – BookSeller. “Johnson’s decision to close libraries comes after Libraries Connected, in a letter to ministers, demanded further action. Although the vast majority of local authorities had already closed all their libraries, as of Monday afternoon, around 22 still had some open according to the organisation. Those that had some buildings still running included Waltham Forest in London, Worcestershire and Sefton, which pointed out in a tweet  to concerned residents over the weekend that “libraries are not amongst the public facilities listed for compulsory closure by the government at the moment”. On Friday, Unison members working at 10 Lambeth libraries walked out, saying they refused to come back to work because of fears over coronavirus. Libraries Connected said authorities had been forced to make the decision whether or not to close based on their own interpretation of government guidance and this was not enough.”

” libraries have been responding to the crisis with innovative ideas and had seen spikes of up to 100% in e-membership in recent days. Other ideas include Facebook Storytime, online book clubs, live streaming activities via social media and rotas of phone calls to regular library users.”

International news

  • USA – Internet Archive’s ‘national emergency library’ has over a million books to read right now – CNet. The library has 1.4 million books, all available for immediate loan.
  • COVID-19: How One Library is Coping with Being in the Epicenter and How Controlled Digital Lending Can Benefit Libraries – Sirsi Dynix. 1 April. “Director of the American Hospital Association Resource Library, as she shares the experience of her and her team as demands on their library has increased and how they have adapted. Then, hear from Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries at, as he talks about how to add great electronic content for free.”
  • How to Combat COVID-19 Related Misinformation – EveryLibrary. “On Friday, March 20th, The EveryLibrary Institute hosted a webinar on How To Combat COVID-19 Related Misinformation. Now you can watch this webinar at your convenience with this webinar on demand.”
  • How to Sanitize Collections in a Pandemic – American Libraries. “The easiest, safest, and most inexpensive disinfectant is time.” … “That also means libraries should plan to stay closed until the risk of public infection is eliminated.”. But if not possible, “Internal hard surfaces, including tabletops, door handles, book drops, and computers, should be professionally cleaned. “
  • Macmillan Abandons Library E-book Embargo – Publishers Weekly. “Macmillan’s controversial two-month embargo on new release e-books in public libraries officially kicked in on November 1, 2019, over the strong objections of the library community, which has consistently rejected the embargo as violating a core value of librarianship: equity of access. The embargo policy came just over a year after Macmillan instituted a four month “test” embargo on new release e-books from its Tor imprint. “

Local news by authority

“Northamptonshire waited until end of day on 23rd March before closing all of its main libraries.  Smaller ones had mostly closed earlier than then because NCC had decided not to staff them and most library support groups felt that their volunteers should not, or could not, offer to open those libraries. The business of each library authority being allowed to make its own decision as per the reply from DCMS to Libraries Connected is yet another example of ‘localism’ not serving libraries well.
At the local level, our community-managed libraries were put in the same position.  They had to decide for themselves whether or not to stay open.  Some were more reluctant to close than others but it seemed that all appreciated that they should not be using volunteers aged over 70.”

Alison Richards, via email

Boris Johnson closes all UK public libraries

It took too long and there was a lot of avoidable drama the last few days but the Prime Minister has finally done what is necessary, effectively closing the country except for essentials. He specifically mentioned public libraries in his speech. By that time though, 95% of library services had already decided to close.

So that bit of the drama is over. Speaking personally, I’ve been impressed with all the library folk I’ve been in contact with this week, from Libraries Connected who stepped up to the plate in recent days to chief librarians who fought hard with councillors in some cases and worked hard to manage the crisis in every case to everyone else on down and, above all, the library workers in the front line who had to open up despite the risks.

The next few months are going to show – well, who knows what. But we understand that this will mark a change in the sector that we will all remember. There will necessarily be a big move towards the digital for a start. There are already calls for millions more to be spent on e-books and the need for a national public library website has never been so obvious. I look forward to recording all the innovations and successes that will be achieved in these circumstances few of us would have imagined even a month ago. Not so much any of the other news, so please everyone, try to minimise the bad stuff.

Keep well. Take care.

  • Coronavirus: PM announces strict new curbs on life in UK – BBC. “Other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship must also close immediately. “
  • Close libraries now, plead library chiefs as ‘terrified’ London staff walk out – Guardian. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in response to Hunter’s letter that it was right for councils to make their own decisions about library closures. “We know that some councils have decided that they need to close their physical library buildings, and that is fine,” it said. “However, we know that libraries can play a number of roles in the community. Therefore we wanted to ensure councils retained discretion to keep libraries open, albeit operating differently given government social distancing advice, where they felt that services could remain beneficial and be delivered safely.”