Public libraries have a new advisory panel

Editorial

A new advisory panel has been established by the government to “help formulate innovative new policy ideas” for public libraries. One suspects that “increased funding and investment” will not be one of these policies but one never knows. The unpaid chair of the group, Baroness Sanderson (Conservative) is certainly saying the correct things like she aims to “help develop ideas as to how we may promote and protect our libraries into the future” and the very fact that an advisory panel has been established is good news: there’s been none since the Bonfire of the Quangoes back in 2010/11. On the other hand, the Baroness is an ex Mail on Sunday journalist so one suspects huge state investment is not on the cards.

One potential policy that has gained a lot of traction in the last couple of weeks – using libraries as “warm banks” – shows how public libraries can quickly take advantage of initiatives and changing conditions. The foreboding predictions for this winter – high inflation, huge energy price increases, continuing war in the Ukraine plus the fact Covid is still with us – suggest that the country is potentially entering as dark a period as few of us have ever experienced. Public libraries have always been there during such dark times before and it looks like we will continue to help brighten them again, especially if such things help the sector argue for sustained or increased funding.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Baroness Sanderson to help develop new public libraries strategy – Gov.uk. “Experienced former journalist and government adviser will help generate new ideas to improve library service and provision” … “a new advisory panel and will be expected to provide a fresh, challenging and impartial perspective on libraries to help formulate innovative new policy ideas.” … ” attended by representatives from Arts Council England, Libraries Connected, and the cross-party Local Government Association.” and “British Library, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, local authority library services and community-managed libraries, as well as other government departments” [Elizabeth Sanderson is a Conservative peer, who worked for the Mail on Sunday for 17 years before being given her peerage in 2019 – Ed.]
Recounts very familiar tale showing how important libraries can be in helping those not comfortable with the online world
  • Libraries and galleries to act as ‘warm banks’ for Brits struggling to heat homes – Mirror.
  • Libraries step up to provide aid to hard-up visitors but fear for their financial future – BookSeller, paywall. Libraries help with higher costs by providing warmth, free access to info & leisure and providing info on how to gain assistance. Sandwell providing food, Brighton providing toiletries and sanitary products and nappies.
  • Libraries under attack (again): the backlash against Drag Queen Story Hour in the UK – Book Riot. “I live in the UK, and am very much not delighted to share the unsurprising news that Rainy Bigot Island is keeping up with its cousins across the pond when it comes to terrorising drag queens and library users for running fun and educational story events.” … ” Piers Corbyn, brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (who doesn’t share his conspiracy theorist views), has shown up to at least one protest; prominent media transphobes have stayed home, but criticised the concept of Drag Queen Story Time on social media, and notably refused to condemn the far-right presence protesting the events.” … ” the religious right and the nationalist right are joining forces to attack people who challenge their reactionary view of the world”

How can libraries continue to run Drag Queen Story Hour events and ensure the safety of attendees and performers? In the short term, some libraries have had to run interference, giving out false details of one location so that the anti-LGBTQ+ protesters gather there before running the event at a completely different place. While this has allowed events to run safely and without interruption, libraries shouldn’t have to resort to subterfuge to hold an event which, when all’s said and done, is simply an adult professional reading picture books to children. Libraries need to work closely both with groups like Drag Queen Story Hour, and with anti-fascist groups organising against far-right protesters, to ensure that these storytimes can be performed and enjoyed by all.

Book Riot
  • Library Focus 2022 – BookSeller, paywall. “Our special report on the state of UK libraries covers the country from Stornaway to Southampton.”. Includes Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Bournemouth Christchurch Poole (using Minecraft), Norfolk, Brent, Staffordshire, Swansea (prisons), Barnsley, Northern Ireland (fines-free), Southampton (sanctuary),
  • Money Box Energy Bill Special – BBC Sounds. Isobel Hunter from Libraries Connected appears. “we’ll hear more on the “warm banks” being set up by councils, community groups and libraries, for people to spend time in if they can’t heat their homes.”
  • Serious concerns as almost a third of librarians asked to censor material – BookSeller, paywall. 21 of 82 librarians who responded to survey said they at least occasionally been asked to censor materials. “It follows a surge in protests outside libraries this year, most notably in response to the Drag Queen Story Hour tour over the summer” … “One librarian, who did not wish to be named, told The Bookseller that protestors, some of whom included members of far-right organisations, block-booked tickets on Eventbrite under “vile names”, making it difficult for the library to reserve places for customers who genuinely wanted to attend.”. Need policies to protect librarians.
  • ‘Warm banks’ to be set up in museums and libraries for people who can’t heat homes – Telegraph. Paywall.

International news

  • Canada – These Ontario libraries say more people borrow items and return them on time after overdue fines dropped – CBC. “Bernstein said research showed some people felt “shame or fear of huge bills that drives them away” and some felt they couldn’t enter a library to access computers, services or programs. Getting rid of fines means staff can focus on recommending books or helping people access services “rather than have awkward conversations about owing $5,” Bernstein said in an email.”
  • USA – Romance Novelist Donates $50,000 to Embattled Michigan Library – I Love Libraries. “Romance novelist Nora Roberts donated $50,000 to Patmos Library in Jamestown Township, Michigan, after the library was defunded by the community in early August over LGBTQ-themed books. The donation pushed the cumulative total raised by two GoFundMe campaigns to more than $245,000—the amount the library was expected to lose next year due to the loss of taxpayer funding.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Birmingham: Council maps out places for public to keep warm – BBC. “We are going to work with partners to map out spaces across the city where people can go to keep warm,” he added. “Whether that’s local community centres, places of worship or libraries, we want to help people to find places where they will be welcomed, free of charge.”
  • Brent – Podcast Transcription Cricklewood Library – Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network. “explores the journey that Cricklewood Library has taken over the past 10 years, in order to reopen to the public in October 2021.” … “be there prepared for the long haul, it’s not going to be a short thing. You’re taking on something quite enormous. So, stay in power and reach out to the community.”
  • Cheshire East – Community spirit – BookSeller, paywall. Working with Ukrainian refugees. “Library staff have been very active in their approach to the challenge and are accustomed to responding to multiple needs in creative ways”. Libraries deliver council services: “This is becoming increasingly valued and, by working in partnership with multiple services in a strategic way, our influence and reach is growing.”
  • Dorset – Cost of living: Dorset ‘warm banks’ may help those who cannot heat homes – BBC. “The council is looking at whether to extend opening of places such as libraries.”

Warm banks and drag queens

Editorial

Two main news subjects this week. The first is the suggestion of using libraries as “warm banks” for those who can’t afford to heat their homes. However, a couple of articles point out that libraries may hardly be in a position to provide such warmth if more funding does not become available. Indeed, it’s pointed out that libraries, with their big spaces and limited council budgets, face a heating crisis of their own this winter.

The other story is, still, that of Drag Queen story-times. It looks like there have been small groups of protesters at basically every event this Summer that they new the time and location of, with other (normally larger) groups of counter-protesters turning up too. Regardless of how one feels about the issue, and there are librarians on both sides, any library service thinking of similar events next year will know to include how to deal with insults, protests and possible need for arrests when they do so.

Changes by local authority

National news

Isobel Hunter got cut off before being able to make this point
  • Soaring energy bills may close libraries, leisure centres, nurseries and small businesses, warn leaders – I. “Soaring energy costs this winter will push community facilities to the brink with leisure centres, swimming pool, libraries, nurseries and small independent shops forced to consider closing temporarily or for good.” but “the public library network gives councils and government a key facility in almost every community and some libraries are gearing up to act as warm spaces and advice centres during the winter months.”
  • Libraries Connected responds to media discussion of libraries as ‘warm refuges’ – Libraries Connected. “Public libraries have always offered a warm safe space to those who need it, but the energy crisis means demand is likely to be much higher over the colder months. Our research shows that over 80% of library leaders expect an increase in people using libraries to keep warm this winter.” … ” library budgets will be even more stretched over the coming months. This money has to be found from somewhere. “
  • The ultimate guide to photographing libraries – Designing Libraries. “Photography is all about light and the best light is to be found early in the morning or in the late afternoon… Keep it all as simple as possible – most well designed new build libraries are strong enough on their own to be graphically interesting… Download the full Essential Design Guideline publication from this page.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Powys – No more library fines if council agrees new plan – Shropshire Star. “On Wednesday, August 31, a delegated decision will be taken by the council’s cabinet member for a prosperous Powys, Councillor David Selby which will take away the financial punishment.” … “Traditionally fines were applied as a contribution to the costs of sending printed overdue reminders to customers. However, the Library Service no longer sends printed overdues because of the costs were prohibitive.””
  • Reading – Drag Queen speaks out as protestors disrupt story hour tour – Reading Chronicle. ” the tour has reached over 1,000 children across the country. Speaking about the impact of the tour Aida has said: “I never had a role model as a child. Nobody told me H from Steps was gay. Nobody told me Alan Turing was gay. LGBTQ kids don’t get given the needed asset of a role model. I’m being the role model I wish I had when I was their age. “If these hateful people didn’t exist, then I would just be this fun, fabulous, Story Hour drag queen.” … “Drag Queen Story Hour has been opposed by Michael Manoel Chaves, a conspiracy theorist who runs the ‘Mad Mix Conspiracies’ Telegram channel.”
  • Rochdale – Hundreds benefit as digitech library branches out – Rochdale Council. “A further 300 digital devices have been loaned to households through Rochdale Borough Council’s innovative digitech library. Hundreds more digitally excluded residents now have free access to laptops, internet data and support to get online. The digitech library is a partnership between the council, the voluntary sector and grassroots organisations to help tackle digital exclusion and poverty.”
  • Somerset Drag Queen Story Hour: 50 protesters descend on Somerset library hosting children’s event – Somerset Live. “Officers from the neighbourhood team attended Glastonbury Library following protests at similar events across the country, including at libraries in Bristol last month. About 50 protesters attended, including those in support of the event and those opposed to it.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries presents Sounds of Nashville: an evening of songs and stories – Suffolk Libraries.
  • Swindon – Travel through time in Swindon with free virtual reality events – Swindon Advertiser. “As part of the national Unboxed Festival, Swindon Libraries is one of only 15 UK library services chosen to host StoryTrails, which uses cutting-edge technology to bring local stories and places to life in completely new ways.”
  • Warrington – How will libraries keep lights on this winter? – Warrington Guardian. “As eye-wateringly expensive as the domestic energy price cap is, at least there’s a cap. That’s not the case for all other businesses, local authorities, libraries and museums that will have to fork out the full whack.” … ” libraries and leisure centres in Warrington are run by LiveWire, a not-for-profit community interest company that saw its income drastically reduced when it had to shut up shop during the pandemic. Now I dread to think what LiveWire’s energy bill is like – I wonder just how much it costs to heat a swimming pool.”
  • Wokingham – Arrests made at Drag Queen Story Hour UK protests – Bracknell News. Vehicle had registration plate obscured. “A 59-year-old man from Wokingham was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence at the Wokingham protest.”
  • Worcestershire – Calls for planned Redditch library closure to be shelved – Advertiser. “It follows increasing public discomfort over possible proposals to demolish the existing library with no clear suggestion as to where current services provided would go.”. Suggestions library moves to town hall but “However Cllr Fry pointed out there would only be 321 square metres of unused space available at the Town Hall, while the existing library area covers 2,267 square metres, seven times more than the area available at the Town Hall.”

Putting the drag into story-times

Editorial

It’s clear something major has happened this Summer. There has been widespread and vocal protests, and counter-protests, outside libraries hosting drag queen story-times. This has received huge media attention and it’s too heated and immediate for me to write more on it. Just see the multitude of articles below, in a separate section below the national and international news sections.

Changes by local authority

National news

“In 1989, two-thousand people demonstrated against Satanic Verses and marched on the Central Library. Copies were burned in the streets. Later and to their eternal credit the then MP for Halifax, Alice Mahon and the controversial Judge James Pickles read out passages from the book outside the library to emphasise free speech. Waiting lists to read the public library copies went up significantly.”

Email received

International news

  • Afghanistan – The librarian who defied the Taliban – BBC. “Wahida Amiri worked as an ordinary librarian before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August. But when the militants started to strip women of their rights, she became one of the leading voices against them. She told the BBC’s Sodaba Haidare how protesting against Taliban rule led to her arrest and why she decided to leave her country.”
  • Australia – Scripturient: Interview with Trish Hepworth – Mechanical Dolphin. “ven a developed country like Australia with a world-class education system has significant levels of low functional literacy. It’s increasingly difficult for people to function in society without those skills, and when they need help, the place they turn to is the public library.”
  • Global – World’s best new public library found – Systematic. “The building stands out for its beautiful architecture that pays homage to the surrounding landscape while functioning as a library with a wealth of offers and possibilities that also serves as a meeting place for the local community. The library therefore scores highly against all the award’s criteria. It’s a library that you would relish having in your own local area. It’s a library built for the future.””
  • Ireland – Over €3m in funding to extend opening hours of libraries nationwide – Breaking News. “Funding of more than €3 million is set to be invested in 46 library branches across the country, extending the opening hours of many nationwide. The investment announced by Minister for Community Development Heather Humphreys on Tuesday comes as the World Library Congress opens in Dublin, hosting approximately 1,700 delegates from 100 countries. Some €2.2 million of the funding will deliver longer opening hours in 17 of the libraries through the extension of the ‘My Open Library’ initiative, which provides library access to members from 8am to 10pm, 365 days a year.”
  • Shush 199 – Stuart Hamilton Takeover – Shush. “Today we did a special takeover show. I was very happy and lucky to be able to do a takeover show with Stuart Hamilton (Head of Libraries Development at Local Government Management Agency) Stuart chose the music. In the show we chatted about his music selection, Libraries, his work and role. We also spoke about the International Federation of Library Associations World Library and Information Congress which is taking place next week in Dublin.”
  • New Zealand – Fines discontinued at district libraries – Otago Daily Times. “A lot of people felt embarrassed or ashamed about fines, and often stopped using the library as a result, Ms Bean said. “They end up not wanting to bring the book back at all, so we actually lose the book, but more than that we actually lose our library members.””
  • Poland – Supermarket Chain Will Act as Library to Skirt Sunday Trade Ban – Bloomberg. “Biedronka — known for its eponymous ladybug logo — will convert sections of some stores into libraries, retail industry news website Wiadomoscihandlowe.pl reported on Thursday, citing a company document. Customers will be able to borrow from a selection of 140 books using loyalty cards. “
  • UAE – Mohammed Bin Rashid Library attracts over 40,000 visitors – Zawya. New library. “During this period, the Library issued more than 34,000 visitors tickets, and more than 3,000 other tickets to visit the Treasures of the Library Exhibition. The Library’s avant-garde auto-store received around 1,000 requests for borrowing books by Library members.  According to the latest statistics, visitors spent between 2 and 5 hours in the various sections of the library, while visitors’ ages ranged between 5 and 60 years old from different nationalities.

“”It’s really easy to think about the future as exclusively technological. And I think a lot of libraries are keeping pace with that. At the same time, I think we’re starting to see that there’s a really great future for these institutions as place – the value of having an open, public place in your city, in your neighborhood.””

  • Ukraine – How Ukraine’s librarians mobilised to fight the Russian culture war – Scotsman. “Within days, libraries across the country had set up initiatives to supply books to citizens sheltering in underground Metro stations, had created centres for refugees displaced within Ukraine in library buildings and diversified to set up to act as hubs to supply military equipment and essentials to the hastily-formed army. “Crazy Ukrainian librarians,” says Oksana Boiarynova, a member of the Ukrainian Library Association Board, who is on a visit to Scotland – planned and funded before the war – to share ideas about how libraries can support democracy. “They are very creative.””
  • USA – Welcome to the library of the 21st century – CBS. “these are no longer warehouses of books, these are marketplaces of ideas”. West Virginia new library: ” a brand-new cafe, a tool-lending library, and an “idea lab” full of the latest technology. From podcasting booths to computerized sewing machines to augmented reality screens, the facility has been updated for the modern age. “. 21% cut in overall USA library usage from 2009 to 2018.
    • Every Library Card a Miracle: Rural and Small-Town Libraries Are a Boon to Society – Daily Yonder. “Libraries do a lot of the heavy lifting for society. They not only circulate books, but also provide crucial Internet access for job seekers and students and entertain with videos and music. They offer a place where people can find shelter from the weather and while away lonely hours. The work of libraries is doubly important in small towns and rural areas, where miles of distance and the lack of reliable Internet connections can make learning hard and make life seem very isolated.”
    • Small town library defunded after anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. Residents stepped up to save it – Pink News. “Patmos Library in Hudsonville, Michigan had 84 per cent of its annual budget – amounting to $245,000 – slashed in a vote following an anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. According to NBC News, the library came under fire when a group of local parents protested over the availability of LGBTQ+ books”
    • The right in the US has a new bogeyman: libraries – Guardian. “Neo-Nazis and Proud Boys are targeting libraries, as legislators and conservative lobby groups are trying to remove books from shelves and change how library board members are appointed” … “The ALA has been tracking bans for two decades and reported that 2021 was the worst year for attempted censorship yet, with 1,597 books challenged” … “the censorship frequently pushed by conservative groups is linked to wealthy rightwing donors even as they masquerade as grassroots efforts, with names like “Moms for Liberty” and “Parents Defending Education”. ” … “Libraries help us to think. That is why they are powerful, and that is why they are under attack. That is also why we must protect them.”

Drag Queen Story Hour

  • ‘Alpha Men’ wage war on school library storytime read by drag queens – Times. Partial paywall. “Leading antivax conspiracists have shifted their attention to LGBT issues, protesting against a drag queen reading tour for children that they falsely claim is a vehicle for paedophilia.”
  • Angry protester is arrested in clashes at library hosting Drag Queen Story Hours – Mail. “The event attracted large groups protesting and supporting the show – around 15 people staged a demonstration against it and claimed the performer was ‘illegally grooming children’. One protestor even said they planned to put Aida under citizen’s arrest. Counter-protestors branded the group ‘fascists’ and said they were standing up for ‘parents, children and drag queens’.”. Anti-DQSH protester says “‘A library with toddlers is is not the time or the place – if you want to see a drag queen go to a nightclub” while a parent who attended the storytime said it “was ‘pleasant’ and ‘lovely’. She said: ‘Ada is an author and I can assure you none of the content in the stories are sexualised. They are light-hearted and entertaining.”
  • Anti-racists to counter far-right protests against Drag Queen Story Hour events – Morning Star. “Stand Up to Racism national co-convener Weyman Bennett said the group will be hosting “solidarity protests” in several cities this month to oppose “attempts to intimidate children, parents and LGBT+ people.”
  • Bristol Drag queen children’s story hour disrupted by protests – BBC News. “An event where a drag queen was due to read to children in Bristol has been postponed after protests outside. The event at Henleaze Library, Bristol, went ahead without the host and a librarian read to children instead. Bristol City Council said the group “needed lessons in tolerance and difference,” and said it would not tolerate discrimination.”

These library protests have not come out of the blue. They’ve been planned on social media by known groups who have switched from anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests to evidence-free claims that these events are being hosted by “paedophiles” and “child groomers”.

The personalities behind the demonstrations in Bristol and Reading are well known figures on conspiracy theory-based social media groups. Many of them are known for attending protests outside Covid vaccination centres, attempting to shut them down with baseless claims that vaccines are killing people.

Among them are Alpha Men Assemble, a group of so-called Sovereign Citizens who believe they have the right to opt out of laws to which they do not consent, and swear in members as “Common Law Constables.” Others represent a far-right group known as Independent Nationalist Network, which includes former members of the BNP and Patriotic Alternative.

Figures such as Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) and Jayda Fransen of Britain First, who recently polled 23 votes in the Wakefield by-election, have thrown their weight behind the protests.

BBC Monitoring

“They should be utterly ashamed of themselves, they let those children down. I get told that I am a danger to children. But what is dangerous to children is language like paedophile and groomer, but the only people who used words like that in front of children today, is them.”

Sab Samuel
  • Drag queen fights back at attempts to stop him reading to children in Cornwall – Cornwall Live. “A resident of the one of the towns contacted CornwallLive after seeing a leaflet which is being distributed in the areas hosting the drag queen. The leaflets, produced by British far-right white nationalist group Patriotic Alternative, suggest that Drag Queen Story Hour should be stopped as it’s “another attempt to sexualise children” by the “Marxist establishment”. The resident called the content “homophobic” and “hate-fuelled”.”
  • Drag queen reading tour comes to Greater Manchester after previous shows hit by protests – Manchester Evening News. ” “I think although we were aware, we weren’t expecting the hatred to be manifested so strongly. We’ve found out that the majority of people who have protested at any event, were not actually from that area and lots of them aren’t even parents themselves – I think the protesters are actually victims themselves, victims of misinformation.”
  • Drag Queen Story Hour in Reading disrupted by protestors – Reading Chronicle. “Videos circulating on social media appear to show two people inside the Central Library shouting obscenities in front of families attending the event.” … “They had megaphones and attempted to shout into the windows from the ground floor outside” … ““The drag queen, after finishing the story hour, then had to be escorted out of the library by the police to the next story hour show in Tilehurst Library.””
  • Drag Queen Story Hour set to visit Hampshire with Portsmouth libraries event – Hampshire Live. “Drag Queen Story Hour is set to visit three Portsmouth libraries as part of a national tour. The group provides fun and interactive kids shows with drag performers, hoping to “show the world that being different is not a bad thing”.” … “However, recent events in Bristol and Cornwall have led to sparked protests from people hoping to prevent the performance” … “The extreme nature of some of the protesters’ signs, which linked drag queens with paedophilia and child-grooming, sparked fury among hundreds of commenters” …”It’s not really much different from taking your kids to pantomime where they normally have a drag queen in? Or do they oppose that as well?””
  • Drag Queen Story Hour protesters are the real problem – not the queens – Independent. “Aida H. Dee aka Sab Samuel has been threatened with crucifixion for the crime of reading to children while looking fabulous” Partial paywall.
  • Drag Queen Story Hour UK comes to Reading this week – Reading Chronicle. Risk assessment described in detail, with Covid described as the greatest risk.
  • Drag Queen Story Hour UK comes to Wokingham – Bracknell News. ““We absolutely share the principles that this company stands for: to promote diversity and inclusion, to encourage children and young people to read books and for families to visit their local library. Through our fantastic libraries, we always aim to offer a varied and diverse programme of events and activities.””
See the comments to the article for the range of views the public has on this
  • Drag Queen Story Hour UK tour returns to Bristol – Bristol Post. “Aida H Dee describes themselves as an ADHD and autistic 27 year old, who has been patron of Autistic Inclusive Meets London for over two years. She is a published author of two children’s books, has appeared as an official act for The British Museum during The Queen’s Jubilee, has a five star Edinburgh Fringe act, has been featured on Forbes Magazine for being an activist for neurodivergence, and has recently been shortlisted as Local Leader Of The Year 2022 by PinkNews for the nationally acclaimed PinkNews Awards.”
  • Drag queen storytime in England promotes compassion and inclusion. British far-right extremists are importing US hate against them – 7 News Boston. “Recent angry confrontations around events involving drag queens in the United Kingdom follow a disturbing precedent from the United States, where right-wing extremist groups ambush similar events and conservative politicians have pledged to criminalize adults taking children to drag shows. It has coincided with a wider movement to curtail rights ​related to bodily autonomy, ranging from abortion access to gender affirming care​, punctuated by a wave of anti-LGBTQ bills and Justice Clarence Thomas questioning marriage equality as the US Supreme Court overturned the ​federal right to abortion ​in the United States.”
  • Drag queen storytime – Video: Libraries Northern Ireland praises practice of drag performers reading to children – News Letter. “The body which runs Northern Ireland’s libraries has spoken warmly of the ‘drag queen storytime’ movement, saying such events aim to foster “positivity, diversity, and inclusion” among children. It comes amid renewed focus on the practice of having drag performers read to youngsters, after objections were raised to one such event in Belfast’s MAC theatre.”
  • Drag Queen who read to children in Cornwall hits back at ‘aggressors’ who disrupt his events – Cornwall Live. “despite protesters voicing their opposition to the events outside the Cornish libraries and claiming they ‘sexualise children’, the readings have proven extremely popular. Some of them, including in Bude and Torpoint, sold out with people asking Sab to come back.”
  • Far-right protests over drag queen storytime at Bexleyheath and Crayford libraries – Kent Online. “A far-right nationalist group held protests outside Kent libraries over events where drag queens were due to read to children. There was a sizeable police presence outside Bexleyheath library where members of Patriotic Alternative had gathered on Saturday afternoon.”
  • Furious parents storm first Drag Queen Story Hour UK for three to 11-year-olds – Express. “The event was derailed when two mothers, one of whom Mr Samuel claims used her disabled child as a “trojan horse” to gain entry, confronted the event’s host and labelled it “disgusting”.” … “Mr Samuel, who clarified that the shows included no sexual language nor were children exposed to sexual situations, told the BBC: “What is confusing is that these groups are attempting to create a sexual focus here where none exists by drawing attention to sex and sexuality.””
  • ‘I’m just trying to make the world a little brighter’: how the culture wars hijacked Drag Queen Story Hour – Guardian. ” Drag Queen Story Hour has recently been hauled into a culture war. This summer, groups including the far-right and conspiracy theorists calling themselves “sovereign citizens” have been holding up signs saying “Welcome groomers” and “Nonce upon a time” outside libraries in places from Bexleyheath to Reading when Drag Queen Story Hour events were due to take place. Parents entering the libraries had questions shouted at them about why they were taking their children to see a paedophile. Videos of the protests in Reading were posted online and looked terrifying. It was a scene you might expect to see in the US, where homophobic Christian groups have long maligned large parts of the LGBTQ+ movement and their allies as “groomers”. But in Reading?”
  • Letter- Why are Drag Queen’s telling children’s stories? – County Times. Questions why councils are funding “inappropriate” events.
  • North Walsham drag queen story hour disrupted by protests – BBC. “Titania Trust had been due to read a story to children at North Walsham Library on Tuesday. Norfolk County Council said it decided to postpone the event following safety concerns. The county’s police force said officers “engaged with two people who were protesting peacefully” at the New Road library.”
  • One person arrested at Drag Queen Story Time protest – Bristol Post. “It was at Hillfields that one of the counter-protesters was arrested. Avon and Somerset police confirmed she was later de-arrested after giving her details to officers on the ground, and the incident she was arrested for will now be investigated.”
  • Police officers pose with drag queen amid protests at library story hour in Cornwall – ITV. Bodmin “Yesterday (2 August), supporters waved the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag while protesters in Bodmin held signs stating “We are against grooming”, “Leave our kids alone”, “Let kids be kids” and “We are not transphobes”. The protest was a quiet affair, with the protesters leaving before families and Aida H Dee exited the building.”
  • Powys drag queen storytime event a hit, but protesters criticised – Powys County Times. “Powys County Council, however, confirmed they did draft in security staff for the Newtown stop after around 15-20 protesters turned up and stood outside the library, unhappy about it being held, while Dyfed Powys Police confirmed they also sent officers to the scene to make sure the event ran smoothly.”… ““Obviously, the protesters’ parents never taught them to judge other people by how they treat you rather than their appearance.”
  • Protesters and counter-protesters clash over library drag queen hour for kids – Rolling Out. “The group of around 15 protesting against the storytelling say Dee is “illegally grooming children.””
  • Protests and counter-protests at Cornwall libraries as drag queen reads to kids – Cornwall Live. “With police officers and council security present, the protest was actually a quiet affair, with the protesters leaving before families and Aida H Dee exited the building.”
  • Protests outside drag queen story event sees police called in – Norwich Evening Post. “Hundreds of people gathered outside the Forum either to show support for – or protest – a story time event held by a drag queen on Wednesday. Joseph Ballard, also known as ‘Auntie’ Titania Trust, has been targeted by people who do not think it is right for drag queens to interact with children. “
  • Protesters storm first drag queen storytime for primary school children – Telegraph. “Mothers infiltrate library event, saying: ‘We’re here to protect children’”. Paywall.
  • Rochdale Council criticised over drag queen book reading postponements – BBC. “A council has been accused of “pandering to bullies” after it postponed three drag queen book reading events at its libraries.” … “Rochdale Council said it had postponed the shows, which have seen protests in other areas, due to a risk assessment.” … “the decision to postpone the shows would cause “long lasting damage” to “an already marginalised community”, adding: “If these libraries across the country can host [the readings], so can Rochdale.””
  • Storming Drag Queen Story Hour – Scout. Protesters listed in details are anti-vaxxers, extreme right-wing groups … and a Satanic ritual abuse conspiracy theorist. Protester borrowers children from friend so she can gain entry. “Many anti-vaxxers also come from leftish backgrounds, and it’s weird to see the curdling of their hippie ideals.”
  • The storytellers facing violent threats: what’s going on with drag queens in libraries? – Times. Partial paywall.
  • They say it’s harmless fun, but some parents think it’s inappropriate indoctrination… So why are our councils spending taxpayers’ cash on getting drag queens to read stories to children? – Mail. Long anti-Drag Queen article, using DQSH’s social media to suggest inappropriateness, quoting protesters. ” ‘Drag is being romanticised as something positive and fun for kids to engage with, but behind the rainbow flags and unicorns there is an agenda at play. We are at the thin end of a wedge and down the line we will find ourselves wondering how on earth we got into it.'”

Suffolk Libraries celebrates tenth birthday on 1 August

“Monday 1 August will mark ten years since Suffolk Libraries was launched as an independent charity to run Suffolk’s library service. During this time Suffolk Libraries has kept all 44 libraries open, saved Suffolk taxpayers £25m and worked hard to develop new and innovative services and activities at the heart of the community, all with the aim of making an impact on people’s wellbeing.

Many libraries have been encouraged to change their opening hours to suit local need with some even increasing them. Suffolk Libraries also played a vital role during the darkest days of the pandemic, running library activities online, reaching out to isolated customers with befriending calls, lending laptops and delivering food parcels. Latest figures also show that overall lending was higher in 2021/22 compared with 2019/20, thanks in part to a huge rise in eLibrary use over the past few years.

Suffolk Libraries will also be opening Suffolk’s 45th library at Moreton Hall near Bury St Edmunds on 1 August. The organisation will also be sharing messages and feedback on social media throughout August including this recent award-winning video which shows the many ways in which Suffolk Libraries helps people in the community. 

Bruce Leeke, CEO of Suffolk Libraries, said: “We want to use our ten-year birthday to remind everyone of everything Suffolk Libraries does to make Suffolk a better place to live. I hear heart-warming examples of what we mean to people almost every day and we’re all very proud of what Suffolk Libraries has achieved over the past ten years. “These achievements speak for themselves but it’s our impact on people’s lives across Suffolk that really counts. It’s not just about the stories that people borrow from us, it’s about the ones we help them create. It’s the stories about how Suffolk Libraries has reached people, supported them and changed their lives for the better.

 “Suffolk Libraries is run by the community for the benefit of the community and that’s why almost everything we do is down to the amazing people who work and volunteer for our charity. This celebration is also about paying tribute to everyone who has played a role in our story; our staff, community groups and the many people who’ve supported our journey over the past ten years.”

In a video message to Suffolk Libraries Nick Poole, CEO of CILIP said: “Over the last 10 years Suffolk Libraries has emerged as something of a beacon for libraries everywhere. You’re known for throughout the profession for fresh thinking innovative ideas and really impactful advocacy. That reputation is down to the hard work and dedication of every member of staff across Suffolk Libraries and I know how much of a difference that that hard work and dedication makes to the communities that you support and serve.”

Local news by authority

At Leeds Central Library

Turning up the heat

Oh my goodness, those first couple of days this week were hot. A very few libraries closed, especially volunteer ones, but most stayed open. A very very lucky few of those libraries had air-conditioning and made the most of it for their public. Those who had to work in the non-air-conditioned ones deserve our recognition. They were often able to at least offer shade and water but it wasn’t pleasant.

Something else unpleasant is the continuing fight over what is allowed in public libraries in the USA and in the UK. Drag Queen Story Time appears to be experiencing unprecedented criticism of their events. Many public libraries are worried about if their event choices in the future will spark social media furore and how to respond. And here’s a bit of speculation on my part: I suspect it’s only a matter of time before public library choice of stock comes under public attack. I am already aware of at least one attempt to remove a LGBT title and I’m half-waiting for the first attempt to remove books by JK Rowling. And when libraries have to defend their books not just on content but also their author’s political views, well, then things will get really hot.

Changes by local authority

News

  • ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ Floods UK with 70 Events, Parents Push Back Calling It a Form of Child ‘Abuse’ – Christian Broadcasting Network (USA). “In the U.K., many opposing Drag Queen Story Hour are speaking out by urging local councils and libraries to reject the events as distasteful and inappropriate. ” … “Family Education Trust is encouraging parents to get involved and find out if their local library is allowing a Drag Queen Story Hour. The group even provided a letter template for them to fill out, outlining their opposition to the events. “
  • Libraries and Ukrainian refugees – CILIP. “This briefing note presents the findings of a snapshot survey of 45 library services across England. It reveals for the first time the vast range of support libraries are offering to Ukrainian refugees, and their crucial role in the Homes for Ukraine scheme”
  • Libraries are not just for books – they can help in heatwaves too – Big Issue. [Written by me – Ed.]. “Libraries are about being local, with heat and light as standard. Wouldn’t it be nice if they also got the funding so we can provide cold as well?”
  • Martin Lewis warns next UK prime minister of ‘financial cataclysm’ – Guardian. “Lewis predicted that further gas and electricity bill price rises this autumn would require the provision of “warm spaces in public buildings” such as libraries, where people who can no longer afford to heat their homes can find shelter.” … ““This winter we’re going to need warm spaces in public buildings,” he said. “Local councils, universities and libraries will need to open their doors and invite people in to keep warm because they can’t afford to put their own heating on.”
  • Osman donates 1,000 copies of his books to libraries across the UK – BookSeller. ” “Books are for everyone, reading is for everyone and libraries are for everyone. I am very proud to support the library service, and I know the members of the Thursday Murder Club would be too.” “
  • Parents slam drag queen library tour… but organiser hits back and accuses ‘far-Right neo-Nazi group’ of block-booking 2,000 tickets – Mail. “Drag Queen Story Hour UK will hold nearly 70 classes for three to 11-year-olds in a summer tour. The group says the sessions ‘teach inclusivity’ and encourage children to ‘get fabulous'” … “The Safe Schools Alliance campaign group added: ‘Drag queens entering children’s environments is an abuse of power.'” … “A spokesman [for DSQH] said: ‘The performances are very similar to pantomimes, except they are explicitly literacy-focused and support inclusivity in communities and an interest in reading.’
  • Story So Far – Fine Free Libraries. [Written by me – Ed.] “Fines in public libraries were an unquestioned fact of life for over a century, possibly even since lending libraries began. It was something that was obviously right and all-pervasive. But that is not the case now. Just like the other cliché of public librarians going shush, the stereotype of the book fine is becoming less true in library service after library service, country after country. So, why? And what are the reasons to fine or not to fine?”
  • Why libraries matter for Britain – News Statesman. “These cherished spaces will play a crucial role in regenerating the public realm.” … “When I’m in the library, I’m not in prison,” an inmate of HMP Brixton told Nick Poole, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals. “That’s the library effect in a nutshell,” Poole said, as we discussed the outlook for public libraries following the collapse of visitor numbers during the pandemic. Poole is keeping a close eye on the rate at which visitors return, and working out how libraries reposition themselves in the post-Covid cultural marketplace. “We are still a long way from the public realm we need, and the public libraries we need,” he said.”

International news

  • Libraries are the Great Equalizers – Chronicle of Higher Education. “In a new Chronicle report, “The Library of the Future,” we examine the changes affecting this critical institution, which is at the heart of many campuses. Such changes are affecting the nature of librarianship, the way space is used in library buildings, and how scholarly materials are produced, collected, and made accessible.”
  • Montana rejects library logo over similarity to pride flag – AP News. Commission sees suggested rainbow logo through the prism of their own views.
  • Telling the Library Story on TikTok – ALSC Blog. Collaborate, engage, programme.
  • Texans seek refuge in public libraries as heatwave sweeps across US – Yahoo News.
  • Valuable and Timely Advice for Marketing from 5 of the Top Minds in Library Promotion – Super Library Marketing. Be customer-focused, flexible, have a good social media image, marketing plan and get involved in your community.
  • What’s Happening With The Vinton Public Library – Iowa Starting Line. “a handful of locals whipped up a controversy first over the library displaying books about prominent Democrats, and later about it displaying LGBTQ books and having LGBTQ people on staff.”. Staff forced out in various ways. e.g. “no longer felt comfortable living in the community.”
  • You Can’t Buy These Books – The Nation. “In a remarkable brief filed on July 7 in their ongoing lawsuit, four titans of corporate publishing (Hachette, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Wiley) accused the Internet Archive of stealing, “mass-scale copyright infringement,” and “[distributing] full-text digital bootlegs for free.” Those are pretty wild allegations—especially considering that the Internet Archive’s Open Library operates on the traditional terms that libraries in this country have abided by for centuries. “

Local news by authority

Lincolnshire – Sleaford Stanford, 20 July front page

Hot, cold, and very green

Editorial

One of the big things about the CILIP Conference, which I was going to write about last week before a whole bunch of social media trouble, was the launch of the Green Libraries Manifesto. This looks like a sure winner to me. There’s no need to “greenwash” libraries. We’ve been pretty darn green to begin with. A book bought in a bookshop perhaps gets read once, twice if it’s lucky. And a lot of books aren’t even read at all: they’re just gifts. A library book gets taken out, what, twenty times? Thirty? I’ve withdrawn books with eighty date-stamps on them. And they’ve been doing it for ages. I bet those papyri at the Library of Alexandria got read a lot more than a typical “The Man Who Got Mummified Twice” by Richardeses Osmanakhun.

And, oh yeah, there’s a climate emergency going on at the same time as energy prices smash previous record highs. So public libraries can shout about their green credentials while at the same being a place of refuge for those who cannot afford to heat their houses. A tweet from Martin Lewis suggesting “warm banks” got 44,000 likes last time I checked. Wow.

And, as I write this, we’re living through a heat wave and in a country where barely anyone has air conditioning. I see an opportunity there for “cool banks” in libraries there, like they already do in the USA. And not just because I don’t want to melt in the libraries I work at this week. Oh no.

Changes by local authority

National news

“In this webinar we find out about a new report and assets developed by the National Literacy Trust that will help libraries to deliver and demonstrate their role in supporting post-pandemic literacy recovery.”
  • Green Libraries Manifesto – Libraries Connected. “As libraries we occupy a place at the heart of the communities we serve. Through this manifesto, we want to come together towards a shared vision: to lead by example through our own environmental actions and use our power and reach to inform and inspire people to take positive action and build resilience in the diverse communities we serve.”
  • How to Apply – E to G Libraries Tour 2023 – Simon Armitage. “Does your library’s name or location in the UK (village, town or city, but not street) begin with the letters E, F, G or Welsh Ff or Ng? If so, you’re welcome to submit an invitation by August 19, asking Simon Armitage to visit during the next Tour: Mon-Sat, March 20-25, 2023. “
  • Kerry Hudson: School librarians saved me – Scotland can’t afford to lose them – Press and Journal. “I’m writing this to you because I credit so much of this to school libraries and librarians. I don’t know how I would have survived those years had I not been able to disappear into the books and safe space you provided me.”

Public libraries also play an important role in supporting digital inclusion. Around 2,900 public libraries in England provide a trusted network of accessible locations with staff, volunteers, free wifi, public PCs, and assisted digital access to a wide range of digital services. Library staff and volunteers have been trained in digital skills so that they can provide library users with in-person support in using digital applications and services.

Damian Collins, Chair, Draft Online Safety Bill. They Work For You.
  • Libraries as Dysfunctional Organizations and Workplaces – Routledge. “Libraries as Dysfunctional Organizations and Workplaces expands the ‘dysfunctional’ concept in the professional and academic LIS discourse by exposing the internal problematics of libraries, especially at the social and organizational level.”

International news

  • Australia – Why your library could soon change completely – News.com.au. Report on libraries going fines-free. “Last year, Cambridge Library raked in just under $15,000 in fees for overdue library books. However, Ms Shannon says the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. “The report to council explained that the cost of the administration was actually greater than the fee collected”
    • Libraries are about ‘people, not books’ as they survive and thrive in digital age – ABC News. “Librarian Chris Jones remembers being warned in the late 1980s — just as the internet was emerging — that libraries would be “dead in five years”. But despite advances in technology and the emergence of the digital age, he said libraries were thriving as people changed the way they used them. Mr Jones said libraries were “here to stay” because they were about so much more than the books.” … “Libraries are about people, not books, they are about a safe, socially inclusive space where people can interact”
  • USA – Montana rejects library logo over similarity to pride flag – AP News. “a member said the main feature — a prism — brought to mind the rainbow LGBTQ pride flag, something she suggested would set off a political firestorm.” [They’re going to get really angry when they see sunlight reflected through rain – Ed.’]. $130k logo design consultancy wasted. “suggested the logo be toned down to shades of blue, black and gray.”
    • Bee Cave librarian: Summer reading program winds down – Austin American Statesman. “World Champion trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick and his horse Romeo helped us kick things off, drawing more than 350 people to the plaza in front of the library” … “The annual Summer Reading program has been a mainstay of public library service for the past hundred years or so”
    • Found in a Library Book – I Love Libraries. “The librarians at Oakland (Calif.) Public Library have collected the treasures they’ve found in books over the years and digitized them to create the “Found in a Library Book” project. The ephemera includes drawings ranging from crude to intricate, photos, homemade bookmarks, maps, personal letters, odd lists, and more. It’s all endlessly fascinating and incredibly bingeworthy.”
    • Libby is stuck between libraries and publishers in the e-book war – Protocol. “While they might be worried about their budgets, at the end of the day librarians just want people to read more, and Libby is helping them do that. “We only see it as a positive,” Jeske said. “It has introduced the library to folks who weren’t using it before.””
  • More than 200 Stuffed Animals Sleepover at the Goleta Valley Library – Santa Barbara Independent. “Staff were prepared for a great turnout as they have had in the past but were thrilled to see more than 200 “stuffies” dropped off this year for the “all-nighter”.”
    • Urban Library Trauma Study Final Report – Urban Libraries Unite. “Almost every library worker has a story about one event at work that left them shaken. Sometimes it’s an abusive patron, sometimes it’s workplace bullying, and sometimes it’s that haunting feeling left behind when a patron needed more help than you could provide.  The Urban Library Trauma Study (ULTS) looked to take these anecdotal stories, quantify them and build a pathway to practical solutions for the issue and move the library industry towards a culture of community care.”
    • With another leader leaving, Vinton Public Library closes for now – Gazette. “The Vinton Public Library, which lost two directors in two years amid community complaints over books, is now closed indefinitely as the interim director has left, too. The previous directors left after city residents complained about the library’s display of LGBTQ books and books about Democratic President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.”
    • The ‘world’s first library farm’ is home to plush gardens and community innovations – Shareable. ““This is as grassroots as you can get,” Buswell said. “We saw the grass and we decided we could garden there.””

Local news by authority

  • Blackpool – Grand opening announced for new Mereside library and launderette – Gazette. “The Langdale Library and Laundry Room – also called Wash Your Words – on Langdale Parade will officially open to the public at 11am on July 30, following a ceremonial procession to transport books from the old Mereside Library at Crummock Place. Clifton ward coun Paula Burdess said: “This new facility is great news for Mereside. The new library and laundry space will be a fantastic asset for residents to be able to use and socialise.”
  • Borders – Mobile Library Service – Live Borders. “Need to print something?  Our East Mobile Library van now has a shiny new printer which can print, scan to USB and photocopy”
  • Bradford – Money for mobile libraries among schemes to benefit from developer cash – Telegraph and Argus. “£312,216 will be spent on boosting education facilities, £191,587 on parks and green spaces, £70,958 on walking and cycling schemes, £70,958 on improving wildlife habitats and £63,862 on library services.”
  • Calderdale – Calderdale councillor calls for sale of Hipperholme Library to be suspended – Halifax Courier. “A councillor has called for a halt to the sale of a library building in Calderdale while a complaint about the circumstances of its closure is considered.” … “Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said Calderdale Conservatives have submitted a formal complaint to the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) arguing that the council’s Labour Cabinet had not properly consulted the public immediately before agreeing to close the buulding – one of eight libraries across Calderdale – in November 2020 under the Future Council proposals.”
  • Derby – There’s ‘no intention’ to close Derby libraries, says leading councillor – Derby Telegraph. “These are libraries run by volunteers and managed by Derby based charity Direct Help and Advice (DHA). The libraries involved are located in Allestree, Allenton, Blagreaves, Chaddesden, Chellaston, Derwent, Mackworth, Sinfin, Spondon and Springwood Library in Oakwood. But there are growing fears that some or possibly all of the libraries will close permanently as a result of the review as Derby City Council seeks to find “options for a sustainable library provision that meets the needs of its communities”. see also Council urged to take back control of under-threat Derby libraries – Derbyshire Live.
  • Devon – Popular escape room experience comes to South Molton Library – North Devon Gazette. “Following a sold out run at Exeter Library last year, the escape room experience will be visiting” … “The Lost Librarian is a ground-breaking escape room for inquisitive explorers of all ages. Using interactive mechanical books, groups of up to six people experience a 60-minute journey, uncovering a fantastical tale of the last known witches in the UK and the legacy that they have left behind. Work together as a team to solve the mystery of the Lost Librarian.” £12 per session.
    • Police probe after Devon mobile library destroyed in savage fire – Devon Live. “Owners of Torrington Mobile Library are “devastated” after their vehicle was destroyed in a fire last night. A spokesperson at Libraries Unlimited said the service is currently suspended and would have serious financial implications for the charity.”
  • Dudley – Go explore with Beat the Street Dudley – Dudley Council. “This week is Go Explore and events include a Mystery Box event, where random Beat Boxes all across Dudley will be giving out triple points this weekend and a Wild Letter Hunt at Brierley Hill Library on 9 July 11am – 3pm. Pick up an activity sheet and find the letters hidden around the library. Earn double points at our Mobile Box and win great prizes. People can also post selfies of themselves playing the game and share on twitter @BTSDudley with the chance to win their own stuffed toy cuddly hedgehog. So far, 22,385 participants have signed up and have together walked, cycled, run, scooted and wheeled nearly 48,000 miles across the game area.”
  • Gateshead – Gateshead warm buildings plan for people in heating crisis – BBC. “On Monday, Mr Lewis, the founder of the Money Saving Expert website, tweeted he could not “believe I’m writing this, but I wonder if this winter we’ll need ‘warm banks’ the equivalent of ‘food banks'”. He suggested public buildings such as libraries might be used for people to keep warm.”
  • Glasgow – Call for Springburn Library to restore opening times and fix staff shortage – Glasgow Evening Times. “Springburn Library is only open on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday and has also experienced a string of sudden closures. Glasgow Life, which runs the facility, said there have been recruitment issues and staff absence. “
  • Gloucestershire – ‘Ambitious’ new library strategy aims to fight climate change in Gloucestershire – Gloucestershire Live. “Libraries will encourage wildlife and tree planting in library gardens, install electric vehicle charge points in library car parks, promote recycling and raise awareness of initiatives to help the environment”
  • Hampshire – Hampshire County Council faces £200m budget hole – BBC. “The social care budget has also hit by cuts while plans to close eight libraries to save £1.76m were unveiled in 2020. Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Keith House said the county council was in “a deep, dark financial hole that gets worse each year”.”
  • Kent – Get ready for the Gadgeteers, coming to Kent libraries – Kent Council.
  • Lancashire – Greater Manchester council plans ‘warm banks’ in libraries to help struggling residents survive the winter – Manchester Evening News. “It comes after concerns were raised by the money saving expert Martin Lewis about the prospect that ‘warm banks’ may need to be used. Warm banks are spaces where people who can’t afford to heat their home can go to stay warm. Lancashire County Council (LCC) has announced that some of its public buildings, such as libraries and other council buildings, could be used as “warm and welcome places” amid fears vulnerable people could freeze to death this winter. Rising fuel and energy prices with rocketing inflation are driving more and more people to food banks and other support areas, but this is only set to get worse.”. Only Tameside of the Manchester councils went public on what they plan: “Tameside was the only council to issue a full statement. They suggest residents using libraries in the borough to keep warm if needed, but they are also exploring ‘other options’ which could also be used.”
  • Lincolnshire – Summer Reading Challenge – Spalding Voice. “Children aged 4-11 can visit the Victoria Street building to meet the Gadgeteers and get involved in a science and innovation themed challenge.”
  • Middlesbrough – Libraries and Hope Foundation join IT poverty battle – Middlesbrough Council. “The town’s Library Service has joined forces with the Hope Foundation to get IT equipment to those who need it most. They’ve teamed up with the FurbdIT partnership which collects unwanted devices and IT equipment, and refurbishes and breathes new life into it for the benefit of local communities. Residents, organisations and businesses can drop off unwanted IT equipment such as PCs, laptops, iPads, tablets and mobile phones at Middlesbrough Central Library and community hubs and libraries at Acklam, Hemlington, Marton and Thorntree.”
  • Norfolk – Norfolk libraries announce record year for supporting local businesses – Norfolk Council. “From April 2021 to March 2022, over 700 attendees received free business support from the Centre. 36% of these attendees were aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business and 27% were looking to grow an existing business. Additionally, there was a 180% increase in people receiving support from the Centre during this period.”
  • North Somerset – Free sim cards to be handed out to people in part of Somerset – Somerset Live. “Residents who need a data voucher should contact their local library to make an appointment to collect it.”
  • Portsmouth – Book your tickets for the Drag Queen Story Hour tour – Portsmouth Council. “Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said, “We are committed to supporting diversity, as well as developing children’s love of reading, so I am really pleased that the summer tour is visiting our city and hope many families will choose to support this event.””
  • Redbridge Redbridge Holiday MiniMix – Redbridge Vision. “Redbridge Holiday Mini Mix is a programme of books, culture and creativity for children 4 years and over happening in Redbridge Libraries this summer holidays.”
  • Solihull – Library Specialist – Stock and Resources – WM Jobs. £31-37k, full time permanent.
  • South Gloucestershire – ‘Reading challenge can support literacy in South Gloucestershire over holidays’ – Gazette Series. “There are also lots of incentives to encourage young readers to participate such as free swim vouchers and brilliant books.”
  • St Helens – Libraries decision ‘one of the most difficult’ councillors in St Helens have taken – St Helens Star. “a decision that could lead to the closure of six libraries is arguably one of the most “difficult” choices senior local authority figures have had to make.” … ” “some people were in favour” of having just one library in the entire borough which he was “strongly against”, which is why that plan “did not come forward”.” … “The current library service includes 13 libraries – although Billinge Library, on Main Street, is temporarily closed due to the condition of its roof and floor. The council says the findings of consultation and engagement exercises have been considered and are reflected in the final library strategy and delivery plan. These include the relocation of St Helens Library to a refurbished Gamble Building, making it a “state-of-the-art cultural centre”. However, the report confirms that the council proposes to reduce the number of library buildings to seven.” see also Historic building to be transformed as six libraries marked for closure – Liverpool Echo.
  • Stockport – Stockport’s Central Library to continue to offer library services – Stockport Council. “the town’s Central Library will continue to offer library services to the borough’s residents. Following a consultation regarding the move of library services from the Central Library Building to Stockroom, it had previously been announced in February that the council’s adult education service, currently based at Hardman Street, would be the preferred service to relocate to the historic grade 2 building on Wellington Road South. Whilst many consultation respondents were very positive about the opportunities offered by Stockroom, others expressed concern that the Central Library Building would no longer house any library services. Some respondents said that they wanted to ensure that the public could continue to access and enjoy this important heritage building.”
  • Stoke on TrentTunstall Library set to move into refurbished Tunstall Town Hall – Stoke on Trent Council. “We are really excited to be moving Tunstall Library into the Ballroom of the recently refurbished Tunstall Town Hall. “We have organised additional pop-up library facilities in Tunstall throughout the summer, to ensure our members can access all of their regular services while we transport the library to its new home.””
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries supporter announced as new children’s laureate – East Anglian Daily Times. “known for his Luna Loves picture books and Fairy Tales Gone Bad, which are often featured in Suffolk Libraries and recommended for children. Mr Coelho visited Ipswich County Library as part of a library marathon, where he pledged to join every library service in the UK. “
  • Warwickshire – Could you be Warwickshire Libraries’ next Young Poet Laureate? – Warwickshire County Council. “The competition is open to anyone aged between 13 and 17 who lives and is educated in Warwickshire, and who would like to perform their own poetry to an audience.” … “ate’s Storytree ‘Stories of Innovation’ sessions will also be taking place,”
  • Libraries across Warwickshire are inviting children to participate in the ‘Gadgeteers’ Summer Reading Challenge from Saturday 16 July 2022 – Warwickshire County Council. “Warwickshire libraries will be hosting a range of free events for children to enjoy during the summer, including an action-packed storytelling adventure game with Pyn Stockman called “The Lost Book of The Magic Flying Ship”.”

“The library boom has council officials both pleased and baffled. “Maybe during the pandemic people have got more into reading books,” said chief executive Nigel Lynn.”

CILIP Conference #Gr**mer

Editorial

This editorial was going to be all about the CILIP Conference because I always find them interesting and it always fills me with new ideas. I’ll have to do it another day though because I need to write about something else.

Being called a groomer on Twitter does that to you.

Here’s the tweet that caused the trouble, on the left. You can see what I did wrong. I said “she” twice when I reported that the storyteller uses the “they/them” pronoun for her puppet. I was typing fast, tweeting at light-speed, and I’m an idiot so, have a laugh, and move on.

However, the tweet somehow got picked up by those who I have been coincidentally writing in editorials about for the last two posts. And there were a hundred or so less pleasant responses before I deleted the tweet. I’ve included a couple of examples. A couple of the less abusive examples to be honest. There were photographs.

And, remember, the non-jokey ones were all because of refusing to assign a puppet, which has no gender to begin with, a randomly assigned “he” or “she” pronoun.

Whoah.

So, a few takeaways from this. There are a lot of people who are very angry with anything transgender, which includes non-binary pronouns and (as related below and in previous posts) drag queens. Many of these people will go straight to the word “groomer” with no attempt at conversation. There were a few who actually were happy when I responded to them about why they thought that way. A promise to send links was made but none have been forthcoming so far. These explained that they expressed a worry that children will be confused by this and change gender after being indoctrinated into it. I’m not saying this is true. I’m just saying this is what is genuinely believed.

So what do librarians do when faced with this? Well, I suspect a lot will feel intimidated. It’d be unnatural not to be. And avoiding the problem is very easy: just don’t use pronouns and be careful about who one books into a library event. For those who wish to take a different course, it would be useful to have a statement or statements from national bodies – CILIP or Libraries Connected perhaps – that one can simply point to in order to explain why the decision was made. And not just to the complainer but to councillors too. Perhaps the draft policy on intellectual freedom from CILIP would be an excellent place to start. With backed up links and reasoned arguments and evidence. Because librarians are busy people and, because this is happening a lot, it would save a lot of time and angst. And, if those who are against this sort of thing are so well-organised then others should be as well.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Green Libraries Manifesto– working together for people and planet – CILIP. “The Green Libraries Manifesto is hosted by CILIP in partnership with Arts Council England, British Library, Libraries Connected and Julie’s Bicycle. This manifesto sets our common values and commitments to drive transformational change for our planet and communities.”
  • Joseph Coelho announced as 12th Children’s Laureate – Independent. “Performance poet, playwright and children’s author Joseph Coelho said he wants to “highlight and celebrate the power of poetry” after being announced as the new Children’s Laureate. Award-winning Coelho, 42, was presented with the Laureate medal by outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Dame Cressida Cowell” see also Joseph Coelho chosen as Britain’s new children’s laureate – Guardian. “Coelho’s third project is the Library Marathon, which follows a pre-pandemic target he set himself to join a library in every library authority in the country. By the time the pandemic hit, he had joined 140, and aims to join the remaining 70 during the next two years.”
  • “Major Boost for Voluntary Network of Community Managed Libraries” – Community Managed Libraries Peer Network. Full-time network manager appointed, plus two regional part-time managers shortly. “funded by the National Lottery as part of the “Growing Great Ideas “initiative, initially for 3 years.” [Source – email received]
This was happening at the same time as the tweets in my editorial
  • Drag queen storyteller for kids Aida H Dee receives violent threats after home address leaks – Pink News. “Aida, who is the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, tells PinkNews that she’s been sent vile hate “day after day”, feeling like she’s been “stabbed from all directions”. But she says things escalated after someone shared her home address with a messaging group composed of thousands of right-wingers.  She says she’s now received horrific threats of violence against her if she doesn’t back down from her tour promoting diversity, acceptance and reading through kid-friendly storytelling events at libraries across the UK. “There’s a group of 31,400 people who know where I live,” she says. “People in this group, they’ve said they’re going to protest outside if this tour doesn’t get cancelled.”” … “she believed some people in the group “had been arrested for impersonating officers” while others had “gone to jail for stabbing people”.”

“It’s so unrelatable to them. They can’t grasp it, and these people sending me hate are just the validation I need to keep going.”

  • The Gadgeteers land in Welsh libraries to launch summer reading challenge – Nation Cymru. “The Welsh Government and the Books Council of Wales are working together to bring the Summer Reading Challenge to libraries and communities across Wales.”
  • The importance of libraries to women in town planning – Scotsman. “A Wise Woman spokesperson said they found in several Glaswegian communities there “were spaces for men but no spaces for women”. Gabrielle Macbeth, volunteer co-ordinator at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), said libraries can offer “so much” to improve women’s experiences in their communities.” … “Gabrielle said the library gives women “a place of solidarity” where it allows them to realise it is not their fault life is sometimes unfair but the product of a “hostile environment”.”
  • Single Digital Presence for public libraries – British Library. “The platform, which will be developed by the British Library, will allow libraries to share content and resources with audiences around the world, promote two-way traffic with local library websites, and give national visibility to local events and collections.”
  • Website survey – DCA/Koios. “a new survey for librarians designed to shed some light on how library websites are perceived and used. The survey includes questions on discoverability, purpose, and utility and asks how successful librarians think their websites are at supporting the library mission. The survey takes five minutes to complete and DCA will make a donation to Clear Voice Interpreting Services, a social enterprise that supports refugees and other people in need with free translation services, for every response received.” [Republished due to incorrect link in last post – Ed.]
  • Why libraries are a space of refuge for authors by Ania Bas – Female First. “I’ve used libraries extensively all my life and I am in awe of how such humble places mutate to accommodate my changing size, interests, behaviour and thinking.” … “When I was working on Odd Hours it was obvious that I had to make the library a place of refuge for Gosia. It’s a place that offers her access to knowledge, resources, people and Wi-Fi.”

International news

  • Global – Library Podcasting, Inspiration, And Sharing The Wealth – Princh. “And so it began, fulfilling what I had perceived as a hole in library podcasting. Never could I have dreamt this idea would have turned into a community of people that have benefited from our show. We have heard that even tiny morsels of information from our podcast have been developed into useful programs, social media, library services, and tech acquisitions that have enhanced patron/user experience. Library podcasting benefits all of us because the profession always supports collaboration and inspiration, these are the engines that help us innovate.”
  • New Zealand – NZ libraries declare amnesty on late fees – RNZ. “over 700 libraries around the world and 53 percent of NZ libraries now fine-free.”
  • USA – Libraries Are Becoming a Battleground for LGBTQ+ People – Vice. “Between armed Proud Boys, book bans, and online attacks, librarians are finding themselves at the center of a new assault against queer communities.” … “There’s been a swift escalation of LGBTQ-related attacks on libraries in recent months, turning typically quiet public spaces into political battlegrounds at a time of growing hostility against queer and trans people.” … “Librarians say they are increasingly facing online harassment from specific accounts being stalked and tagged as “groomers”—a catch-all phrase that has recently been adopted by far-right extremists to baselessly accuse LGBTQ+ people and their allies of pedophilia and child abuse.” see also Cops help masked Proud Boys terrorize kids at NC Pride event – Blade. ” deputies fist bumped the protestors and engaged in casual banter with them while they created a disturbance ” and From book bans to armed Proud Boys militia, US libraries bear the brunt of LGBT+ ‘culture war’ – Independent. “In an email to The Independent, children’s author Joanna McClintick said the people behind recent library protests wanted to erase LGBT+ people from all public spaces and were using “groomer” insults as a choice of weapon.” and With Rising Book Bans, Librarians Have Come Under Attack– New York Times.

“Emily Jones tells Star News that she took her 17-month-old daughter to the Pride event because she thought a library would be safe and peaceful. “I felt like this story time was really one of the safest places I could take my daughter for a Pride event. I just felt like it’s the library, it’s probably pretty low-risk.”

  • Telling the Library Story on TikTok – ALSC Blog. “, the possibilities are endless. You can start off by searching popular hashtags like #BookTok or #librariesoftiktok just to get you started.”

Local news by authority

The world we live in now

Editorial

As you may have noticed from last week’s editorial, the subject of intellectual freedom and public libraries is on my mind a bit recently. This is partly due to me being about to do a short presentation on it at the CILIP Conference this week. But it’s also because it’s, well, been in the news a lot. The far-right in the USA have been targeting public libraries for a while now for a range of things that they don’t agree with. Being this is the USA, this includes turning to children’s libraries with guns and liberally scattering accusations of paedophilia around.

This infection is now spreading to other countries, with Canada reporting multiple outbreaks as well. The disease of aggressive close-mindedness is also, worryingly, becoming part of the scene in the UK with very similar tactics (thankfully, minus the guns) being deployed against drag queen story-times here. The time when such thought-burning trends could be seen as part of just one country’s make-up appears gone. The internet has allowed such prejudice to go global as easily as local. And the English-speaking world, being able to understand American bigoted social media posts and the like easily, is as susceptible as anywhere else. Perhaps even more so.

Of course, being British, some of this tragedy translates as something closer to comedy. You will recall from last week that Nottingham, which is moving forward with its plans to close libraries, decided to ban a radical feminist author from speaking last week. But of course they still have the author’s books. And that of JK Rowling, who prominently thinks the same way. So why? Well, I guess censoring book-stock would be going a bit too far. And banning Harry Potter is, amusingly, exactly what the Religious Right in the USA would want to do. And also there’s a court ruling that could be used against such a thing. But the author is going to sue anyway. Because, well, this is the world we live in now.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Anti-vaxxers select their next target – Scout News. “Where America leads, Britain follows. Protesters are trying to cancel a tour of the Drag Queen Story Hour traveling across England and Wales this summer. ” … “we don’t know the exact contents of the show, but I’m willing to bet any schedule that involves reading aloud the adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare won’t be especially damaging to children.” … “A group called Outreach WorldWide, which has campaigned against Covid jabs, has turned its attention to LGBT affairs. Based on Telegram, where it has 4,000 members, it has been instrumental in protesting against the story tour. It has encouraged members of its 37 regional teams to complain to their local library and contact their councillors and MPs to get the event cancelled.”

“it’s not like the event is being forced upon children. It’s ticketed and in libraries over the summer holidays, so unsuspecting children are unlikely to wander in. And even if they did, they are only likely to find a solitary drag queen reading the works of Michael Rosen. There are far worse things children could be watching.”

  • CILIP Conference – CILIP. Last chance to book for 7 and 8 July. “Libraries, Information and Knowledge for Sustainability”
  • Essential services websites in UK ‘should be accessible to all’ – Guardian. DCMS minister says “Public libraries play an important role in tackling digital exclusion. About 2,900 public libraries in England provide a trusted network of accessible locations with staff, volunteers, free wifi, public PCs, and assisted digital access to a wide range of digital services,”
See Dagger in the Library – The Crime Writers’ Association (thecwa.co.uk)
  • Inflation could push English councils into bankruptcy, say leaders – Guardian. “When budgets were set earlier this year, councils were typically factoring in average pay and inflation costs of about 3%. However, inflation is now at 9%, with the Bank of England predicting it will hit 11% by October.”
  • Libraries Connected welcomes Ayub Khan MBE as new President – Libraries Connected. “As the first Black President of Libraries Connected, Ayub has vowed to use his platform to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in libraries.”
  • Libraries key to closing post-pandemic literacy gap, new report reveals – Libraries Connected. “Public Libraries and Literacy Recovery – produced for Libraries Connected by the National Literacy Trust and supported using public funding by Arts Council England – examines the role of libraries in raising the literacy skills of children whose learning has been disrupted by the pandemic. It highlights evidence that, despite the huge achievements of teachers and librarians in supporting pupils through periods of school closures, the pandemic has exacerbated the literacy gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers.”
  • Library fines – Libraries Hacked. ” Library fines are a policy that should be informed by data. Libraries cannot argue to continue doing something with no affirmative research, just because they don’t think there’s enough research to stop.” … “no service has released any publicly available open data that would make such analysis possible. “

“Why would someone return books to the library if they were going to have to pay £20, and they need that to feed their family? It’s more likely they’ll stop using the library.”

  • New training programme aims to improve diversity in library leadership – Libraries Connected. “The modules, which were produced by the Birmingham Leadership Institute at the University of Birmingham, are structured around four core leadership capabilities: Leading for Resilience, Leading for Dialogue, Leading for Inclusion and Leading for Innovation. Unlike many online learning modules, Leading Libraries has been designed to be worked through gradually, allowing time for personal and group reflection. It can be accessed by all library staff, regardless of seniority.”
  • Website survey – DCA/Koios. “a new survey for librarians designed to shed some light on how library websites are perceived and used. The survey includes questions on discoverability, purpose, and utility and asks how successful librarians think their websites are at supporting the library mission. The survey takes five minutes to complete and DCA will make a donation to Clear Voice Interpreting Services, a social enterprise that supports refugees and other people in need with free translation services, for every response received.”

International news

  • Australia – Decolonising Libraries: Who controls the narrative? – ABC. “Hit play to hear Kerry’s story and learn what you can do to make sure libraries are a safe space for all.”
    • The world gets worse, but public libraries are forever – Sydney Morning Herald. “With all they have to offer, it’s odd then that the main users of libraries are babies, students and tech-phobic grandmothers looking to print out emails at 8am. The rest of us should rediscover the public library’s infinite assets. In fact, take my credit cards because the most valuable card in my wallet now is my library membership. (Note: Don’t take my credit cards.)”
  • Canada – Libraries in Canada hit by wave of hate, threats, as right-wing groups protest all-age drag events – CBC. “More than half a dozen libraries and drag performers, from Saint John to Victoria, reported being inundated online and over the phone by homophobic slurs and, in some cases, threats of violence” … “library staff were, among other things, accused of assisting paedophiles and threatened with lawsuits. Their personal information was also circulated online.”. Comments include “one that said it was time to “light the torches,” and another that called for Saunders and a fellow performer to be burned alive.”
    • Calgary’s Central Library is a stunner to rival Seattle’s – Washington Post. “Visitors could easily spend an entire afternoon engrossed in the Calgary Central Library’s architecture, amenities and programming — or not. It’s also a beautiful place to simply pass the time and people-watch.”
  • Ireland – Library reopening: ‘It’s one of the last great sanctuaries’ – Irish Times. ” you quickly begin to believe that if librarians were running the show, the world would be a better and nicer place. ” … “In February, when Libraries Ireland asked people to join the Ireland Reads campaign (irelandreads.ie) and pledge to put aside time to read a book each day, 570,000 people signed up.”

“It’s inherent in being a librarian that you move with the times, you move with society, you move with the world. You still work with people, that hasn’t changed. The library is a safe, secure, democratic space. it’s not for any one category or group. It’s a place where people can be free to meet, they don’t have to spend money. It’s one of the last great sanctuaries.”

  • New Zealand – Horowhenua Libraries To Be Fine-free – Community Scoop. “We want our libraries to be inviting to everyone, allowing equal access to the information and inspiration found within the walls and resources, however fines can deter people from enjoying the services our community centres provide.”
  • UAE – UAE unveils ‘Library of the Future’; over 1.1m books available for readers – Baaghi. “‘Mohammed bin Rashid Library’, a new cultural beacon in the region.” £225m cost (1 billion UAD). … ” “The economy needs knowledge … politics needs wisdom … nations need to learn … and all of that can be found in books.” see also Dubai opens new book-shaped library – Book Riot. “It’s been deemed the largest cultural project in Dubai. In addition to its unique design, it features eco-friendly features such as solar panels and and water recycling, used for its green spaces.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet City of Stories Home Celebration Event – Eventbrite. “Come along to this special free event celebrating the launch of the City of Stories Home Anthology featuring talented new writers from across London, alongside published authors.”
  • Bradford – Bradford Libraries scrap overdue book fines from today – Telegraph and Argus. “This decision has been taken in recognition of the financial pressures facing communities, particularly given the current cost of living crisis. Several library services across the country have dropped the charges and noticed more use of libraries and more stock returned.”
Manchester – Me and My Library: Sandra and Barbara at Gorton Library
  • Cheshire East – Cheshire East libraries helping support people in crisis – Winsford and Middlewich Guardian. “Adults coming in to browse the book stock and borrowing of books has not returned to pre-pandemic levels yet” … “Winter wellbeing resources were delivered to all Cheshire East libraries enabling other agencies working in communities and library staff to provide residents in need with much needed equipment including duvets, hot water bottles, gloves, and slow cookers.”
  • Coventry – Digital Spaces present event to showcase at Coventry libraries – Coventry City Council – News Anyway. “a two-day showcase of live events that will feature digital activities, artwork and immersive experiences that celebrate Coventry Libraries as places of creativity, community and new perspectives.”
  • Croydon – Croydon Mayor makes statement on South Norwood Library – Croydon News. “mayor has blamed “rising costs and construction delays” after a new library left empty for two years was put up for rent as a shop.” …”In 2021, there was a chance the library was going to be sold off as the building was not finished to the standard expected, but the council said it would use Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money to make it usable.”
  • Devon – Secret Book Quest on a mission to reverse the literacy gap – Libraries Unlimited. “The Secret Book Quest – aimed at kids aged five and older. The Secret Book Quest has been challenging them to read a total of 50 books to collect all the stickers, decipher the code, and win a special prize”
  • Dorset – Dorset Library Service participates in the ‘Gadgeteers’ Summer Reading Challenge – News Anyway.
    • New proposed strategy for libraries across Dorset – Bridport News. “Councillors reviewing the future strategy for the service say that while libraries should change to meet emerging needs and offer new services books should still be at its core. A new proposed overall strategy recognises that there has been a year on year decline in library use with some age groups seldom, if ever, stepping inside one.” … “the pattern over the last 20 or 30 years had seen the heavy use of libraries for younger children and their parents, followed by a drop in interest and then more library use by older people.”
  • East Lothian – Continued staff shortages impact opening of several East Lothian libraries – East Lothian Courier. “Council libraries have faced closures ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, but recent staffing issues have resulted in difficulty fully reopening the sites. Six of the county’s smaller libraries have been affected, with the larger facilities remaining open on normal hours.”
  • Essex – New partnership with HSBC UK to improve financial literacy – Essex Council. “We have joined forces with HSBC UK to bring a series of pop-up events to residents, sharing the bank’s financial literacy programmes in Essex Libraries.” … “They will offer face-to-face guidance around things like digital banking, fraud awareness and managing finances.” … “I am delighted that colleagues from HSBC UK are partnering with us to support our levelling up agenda”
  • Gloucestershire – Proposal to move Stroud Library to shopping centre approved – BBC. “Gloucestershire County Council has agreed to move it to the Five Valleys Shopping Centre in Stroud. The council is expected to enter into a 25-year lease for the property within on the lower ground floor of the shopping centre in King Street. More than 500 people took part in a survey asking for people’s views on the proposal, with 70% in favour.”
  • Highlands – High Life Highland libraries offer boost for those with type 2 diabetes – Ross-shire Journal. ” provide iPads to support those with type 2 diabetes. Packed with information and support the project is a partnership with NHS Highland, Diabetes Scotland and AbilityNet to support those at risk of developing diabetes as well as those newly diagnosed with the condition.”
  • Inverclyde – Summer Reading Challenge set to sizzle – Inverclyde Council. Events include “the BodyWorks roadshow from Glasgow Science Centre, ‘Wee Storybox’ storytelling sessions, ‘Animal Man’ visits, and silent discos, as part of the challenge. “

No-one’s minds were changed

Editorial

One of the main problems the world faces today is that people can hear only one side of the argument. Self-tailoring social media allows readers to receive news only from sources that they agree with, so when one comes across an opposing view it comes across as alien and shocking. In the UK, the BBC prides itself on giving all points of view and thus now gets into all sorts of trouble as people on both extremes can feel angry against its “bias” against them, sometimes over the same article. Those watching the Beeb are at the very least going to know at least what the other side actually says but many now do not and rely on far more biased sources instead. Personally, I like reading news and editorials that I disagree with. It makes me think and change, or moderate, my view. One of my most successful debates I ever had was in the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican. But I did not win it. In fact, it was lost badly. But it changed my viewpoint to a better one. Imagine never being argued with and thus always, perhaps, consistently holding the wrong point of view.

It will some as no news to many that the public library sector is suffering from attacks on its neutrality, notably in the USA. Indeed, even that statement I just made about libraries being neutral may trigger some into angry rebuttals. The situation is very tenuous over the pond due to the American Right leading an attack on anything that disagrees with its agenda (esp. anything LGBT). Some of this is abominable. But the American Left is not blameless, with many calls from that side to censor stock and speakers. The poor library profession stuck in the middle is likely to be attacked from both sides. And of course we know that in the Ukraine, arguments over stock are now settled in war. Thankfully, the situation in this country is somewhat less fraught. But it’s also not entirely safe. Lasty week, a radical feminist writer was blocked by a council when she tried to speak in a library. So she spoke outside instead. And no-one’s minds were changed. Either way.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • ‘Anxiety’ over council library services as tough financial decisions lie ahead – Scotsman. “Research carried out during the pandemic has highlighted “anxieties” among library managers over how local authorities view the issue of statutory provision, with some warning that it is seen to “mean nothing” or “doesn’t carry any weight” among council decision makers.”
  • CILIP Conference – CILIP. 7 and 9 July, Liverpool. “Topics under discussion include media and information literacy, working towards Net Zero, decolonising the curriculum, data driven decisions, evidencing your impact and intellectual freedom.”
  • City of Stories home celebration events open for booking – Spread the Word. “Throughout June, the City of Stories Home offers 33 free workshops in libraries across London, with special readings marking the publication of the City of Stories Home Anthology.”
  • Communities suffer when library budgets are cut​​​​​​​ – Sean McNamara – Scotsman. “How much value a nation or local authority attaches to its libraries can often be a good indication over how much it values its people.” … “During recent campaigns, all major parties have been supportive of how essential libraries are at both local and national level. However, now the 2021 and 2022 elections are over, the proof of that will be seen in the coming months and years. Library budgets simply can’t be cut any further if they are to continue making the difference that they do.”
  • Harry Potter 25th Anniversary: Libraries and the wizarding world ‘opened the door’ to reading for many children – Scotsman. Mitchell Library opened at midnight when Goblet of Fire was released to allow children who couldn’t afford to buy the book to read it at the same time as others. ” … “The main emphasis for the library within these festivities is that children, regardless of family income, should have access to books so their land of possibilities was not compromised.”
  • Libraries providing inclusive opportunities – CLOA. “Isobel Hunter MBE, CEO, Libraries Connected covers what libraries are doing to ensure this rings true for people with disabilities, and how they’re thinking beyond physical access to their buildings to develop a digital offer and work in communities to ensure libraries are as inclusive as possible.”
  • Library Social Media Manifesto – Ned Potter. Slides and thoughts from the master.
  • The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson – Good Reads. “Based on true events, The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.” … Each chapter has a quote from a librarian or a user , the first being by Carol Stump, President of Libraries Connected.
  • ‘Our work to get children reading has never been more urgent’ – Nursing World. “Annie Crombie of BookTrust on how a pilot scheme is reconnecting young children and families with their local libraries post-Covid” … “Storytime pilot, designed to encourage families with children aged 0-5 to share stories and visit their local library” … “BookTrust Storytime will be returning to libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from September this year – and we look forward to delivering it in partnership with our fantastic network of library and community partners. “
  • Parliamentary Culture and Library History in Britain – Intellectual History. ” The earliest ‘public’ libraries were founded in Norwich in 1608, Ipswich in 1612 and in Bristol in 1613″ … “The subscription library model was first pioneered in Philadelphia in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin’s famous ‘Junto’ debating club as a pragmatic solution to the practical difficulties of accessing new books in a colonial city far from the centre of British book publishing in London. ” … “The first formal subscription library in Liverpool was founded in 1758, followed by similar libraries founded in Warrington (1760), Carlisle, Halifax and Leeds (all 1768), Macclesfield (1770), Sheffield (1771), and Bristol (1772/3).”

Public libraries play an important role in tackling digital exclusion. Around 2,900 public libraries in England provide a trusted network of accessible locations with staff, volunteers, free wifi, public PCs, and assisted digital access to a wide range of digital services.

Chris Philp MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Public Libraries and Literacy Recovery – Libraries Connected and National Literacy Trust. Webinar. “Join us to find out about a new report and assets developed by the National Literacy Trust that will help libraries to deliver and demonstrate their role in supporting post-pandemic literacy recovery.” Tuesday 28 June, 11am
  • Solus releases Ukrainian language support – Solus.  Ukrainian added to app.
  • University libraries ‘should censor resources’, say students – Research Professional News. “According to a Higher Education Policy Institute poll of more than 1,000 UK undergraduates, 34 per cent believe libraries should include all resources for the purpose of academic study—down from 47 per cent when the survey was last conducted six years ago.”. 11% even want to no-platform the Conservative Party, 12% the Communists.

International news

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Aberdeen Reads returns with a global challenge for the city’s book fans – Aberdeen Council. “For every book read or challenge completed, Library Bear will earn twenty ‘Bear Miles’ which will see him travel around the Globe. The aim is to have Library Bear travel to a variety of destinations around the world as chosen by pupils from schools involved in the ReadMore Project.”
  • Birmingham – Hundreds of new computers for community libraries – Birmingham City Council. ” 520 PCs are now available across the city making it easier for those residents who struggle to access digital devices. Geoff Cross, an ‘IT Buddy’ at Sutton library, said: “The new computers are a godsend. Gone are the tired old lumps and here are the state-of-the art sleek beasts to keep up with the current demands from our customers.”
  • Bolton – First look at Bolton’s temporary new central library – Manchester World. “New images show how Bolton’s temporary new central library will look when it opens in the former New Look branch at Crompton Place.” … “The main body of the temporary library needs space for 30,000 books, a dedicated children’s area, 36 staff and public PCs, three self-service kiosks, study spaces, area for clubs and groups to meet, a library workroom to process stock. and event space. Coun Cox, said: “The central library and Museum are the cornerstones of Bolton’s cultural offer, with hundreds of thousands of residents coming to visit each year.”
  • Bradford – Opinion: Use libraries or lose more of them – Telegraph and Argus. Book returned after being taken out in 1946. Used as launchpad for article on libraries.
  • Croydon – Croydon mayor blames ‘rising costs’ as new library set to become shop – My London News. “Croydon’s new mayor has blamed “rising costs and construction delays” after a new library left empty for two years was put up for rent as a shop. His comments come after the “prime retail unit” was listed at £60,000 a year by council-owned developer Brick by Brick. Croydon ‘s executive mayor Jason Perry said he is “determined” to create a modern and improved library for South Norwood residents”
  • Cumbria – Whitehaven Library hosts murder mystery evening with Highly Suspect UK – News and Star. “Highly Suspect” theatre group does murder mystery in library for fourth time.
  • Shropshire – Overdue library book returned to Shrewsbury after 50 years – BBC.
  • Suffolk – Rushmere library saved from closing down – Ipswich Star. “The only library in northeast Ipswich will be able to continue its activities as the service has received a funding boost – thanks to the efforts of a group of passionate volunteers. The Suffolk Libraries session at Rushmere Pavilion was set to close at the end of July as the funding to pay for it was set to run out. The pop-up library is not part of the Suffolk Libraries contract with Suffolk County Council, and additional funding is essential to keep it going.”
  • Warwickshire – Polesworth Library and Information Centre celebrates 70 years of library service in North Warwickshire – Warwickshire Council.
  • West Sussex – Worthing Library serves nearly 3,500 customers each week since it reopened in June ‘21 – West Sussex Council. Library had not changed since 1975. “We feel privileged to have found an additional 3,000 new library members since last July to enjoy all of this with us, but we always love to see a new face, so to anyone who hasn’t been to visit yet, we invite you to come along and discover all the things on offer for yourself.”” Now co-located with registrars and health.
  • Wirral – Wirral library thrown a lifeline’ by new councillor – Liverpool Echo. “Cllr Percy said: “From speaking to residents and seeing the brilliant work done by the Friends of Bromborough Library, it was clear that more time was needed. I requested officers reopen the community asset transfer window to let interested groups get their bid in. “Together with the council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, I have offered to work with residents to put together a robust bid. I am confident that we can keep this cherished community hub open, and in the hands of the people who use it most.””
    • Heswall library reopening this week – Runcorn and Widnes World. “Heswall Library was a testing site right up until the requirement for testing was removed on April 1. Now it is set to resume as a community library from next week after improvements to the ventilation system have been put in place and a comprehensive programme of cleaning, repairs and renewals, which were part of the process to decommission it as a testing centre. Library staff have also been working flat out to reinstate shelving, update and restore book stocks and reinstall IT equipment.”

Oho …

Editorial

A truly scary newspaper article from the Guardian points out that without major Government funding, there’s going to be some very serious cuts to local council funding and libraries may be one of the services that bear the brunt. Yay. Been here before. This time around though it’s not austerity but rather inflation and the subsequent necessary wage increases, which haven’t been budgeted for. But don’t worry, the Government is arguing that inflation doesn’t affect a lot of council business (which parts exactly?) and of course if wages are not increased then inflation will go slower. So, that’s OK then.

Faced with potential news like that, it’s good to see that the Libraries Connected conference went really well last week, with lots of sharing of ideas and positive and productive talks about the impact of libraries. And the discovery that Lord Parkinson, who is the Libraries Minister, not only knows his own library card number but is also willing to be used as a library champion. That’s as long of course as he gets robust library data of course. Oho …

National news

  • Fermeture en masse des bibliothèques britanniques : quel bilan ? – ABF. Summary of French library conference panel talk on the closure of English public libraries. In French.
  • How Local Libraries Help Welcome Refugees – Book Riot. “while many libraries have stepped into the role of supporting refugees, there is always more work that can be done. Vincent’s CILIP article gives suggestions on ways that libraries can become more accommodating of and welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers, including consulting with these users and the local organisations that support them to ensure that all their needs are met, and promote the library’s role as a centre for information provision, language learning, and community support.”
  • Libraries Connected welcomes Ayub Khan MBE as new President – Libraries Connected. “As the first Black President of Libraries Connected, Ayub has vowed to use his platform to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in libraries.”
  • Library fine survey: results and summary report revealed – Libraries Connected. “In March 2022 we surveyed our members and had 61 responses”. 16 of the 61 told us they had removed library fines, 15 more considering it. “40% of libraries that had removed library fines had seen an increase in adults using the library, 30% had seen an increase in families and people from disadvantaged areas, and 20% had seen an increase in 5 – 16-year-olds.”. Response from those not considering going fines-fress is income-related and fears books will not be returned.
  • Making Music publishes proposal to save UK music libraries – Classical Music. “The public library network, which has so far been the largest and most cost-effective provider of sheet music to music groups, has been impacted by local authority budget cuts. A lack of investment in developments towards financial sustainability has placed the future of this resource in peril.” … “Local music library services under threat can email info@makingmusic.org.uk for support from Making Music and its partners.”
  • Reading the Planet: Libraries in a Changing Climate – Youth Libraries Group. 16 to 18 September Conference in Sheffield. “We will be offering a virtual programme for those who cannot travel or who cannot afford the full conference. Those who sign up for the live conference will be able to access the virtual sessions for free.”
  • Re-engaging Library Customers – LIEM Training. Webinar, 30 June, charged. “Even before COVID libraries faced the dual problem of reduced funding, but also, more worryingly, reduced usage. Our readers are getting older, using online sources of information or using their time in other ways. This has lead to a decline in the use, and possibly relevance, of libraries.”
  • Schools and libraries face huge cuts after soaring costs create £1.7bn shortfall – Guardian. “School-building projects, swimming pools and libraries have been earmarked for emergency funding cuts because town halls have been hit by an unexpected £1.7bn hole in their budgets, the Guardian can reveal. Rampant inflation and soaring energy bills mean that council leaders have been forced to rip up financial plans from a few months ago” … “The deterioration in the financial outlook is rapid and unexpected. In January, when 2022-23 budgets were agreed, councils were typically factoring in average pay and inflation costs of about 3%. However, inflation is currently 9%, with the Bank of England predicting it to hit 11% by October.”

International news

  • USA – Group of men disrupt Drag Queen Story Hour at California library – NBC News. Group of aggressive eight far-rightwingers (possibly “Proud Boys”) scream about paedophilia and terrify children. Event took place with windows covered after the men were removed. Library says nothing will stop them from celebrating Pride Month.
    • 5 ways public libraries are being used to fight food insecurity – Shareable. “Free, safe, and accessible to all, community-led libraries serve as a both a resource hub (providing education and information) and an access point, delivering food and other goods directly to the groups that need it most. Here’s how: …”
    • Book bullies attempt to hide our diversity – Chicago Sun-Times. ““Any book with a cover showing a person of color on it gets covered up,” explained Ginny Wehrli-Hemmeter, director of events and marketing at Anderson’s, one of the largest independent bookstores in the Chicago area.” … ““They have a website, a social media presence,” Caldwell-Stone said. “It’s stunning to see they have this idea that public libraries are just for them, and they should take actions to sanitize the library from materials that reflect the lives of gay, queer or transgendered people. It’s a real effort to silence the voices of communities that are finally finding a place on the public stage in our society so that we can understand the experiences of others.””
    • Healthy Aging at the Library – EveryLibrary. “Aging can be lonely, whether you live alone, miss old friends, or want to get out of the house occasionally. Public libraries understand these needs and offer activities, live and virtual, to engage seniors and help make connections with others.”
    • Prince George’s County Memorial Library System Targeted by Anti-LGBTQIA+ Vandalism – Library Journal. “the word “Groomer” was spray-painted on exterior library walls” … “a school librarian at Northview Elementary in Bowie, MD. Sutherland confessed to the vandalism and is currently facing two counts of malicious destruction of property and multiple hate crimes” [I had to read this twice to make sure I had got it right – Ed.]

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Bolton Town Centre Library to move to a temporary home from September – Bolton Council. “Bolton Council has secured the £23.9m Towns Fund and is investing in four key projects one of which is the upgrade of the library. An investment of £3 million has been secured for the work, the refurbishment will expand and upgrade the children’s area, improve social spaces and update the digital facilities in the main area with the addition of a mezzanine floor. A report proposing temporary relocation of Central Library will be considered by the Leader of the Council on 21 June.”
  • Calderdale – Halifax library staff rescue rare peregrine falcon chick – Halifax Courier. “Calderdale Libraries said: “With her coordinator’s help, and some towel support from the chefs at Trading Rooms in The Piece Hall, little Cilip was taken back up to the library roof where mama could keep an eye on him.””
  • Cheshire West and Chester – West Cheshire Museums sustainability festival begins in July – Standard. “There will also be a prize-giving for West Cheshire Libraries’ and West Cheshire Museums School Competition”
  • Cornwall – Redruth’s former library building unveiled at community event on Murdoch Day – Cornwall Council. “A new Redruth Former Library Community Interest Company has plans to breathe new life into the striking historic building after agreeing with Cornwall Council to take on a five-year lease.”
  • Coventry – More than a million library books read in Coventry’s City of Culture year – Arts Council England. “Launched by the Duchess of Cornwall and beginning in May 2021, One Million Reads Coventry (OMRC) was funded through Arts Council’s National Lottery Project Grants as part of the City of Culture programme and invited people to record everything they read over the year.”
  • Croydon – South Norwood doesn’t want to see ‘incredibly ugly’ library demolished – Sutton and Croydon Guardian. “It is two years since a brand new library in the area was built but the service still hasn’t moved from it’s 1970s building loved by many fans of its architecture. More than 1,700 people signed a petition to save the brutalist library last year. There were fears the library would never move into its new home as the building, from council-owned developer Brick by Brick was not up to scratch. The new site in Pump House, next to Norwood Junction Station, still hasn’t opened despite signs on the window reading: “New library coming soon, delivered by Brick by Brick on behalf of Croydon Council.””
  • Darlington – A first glimpse inside Darlington library during its £3.2m restoration – Darlington and Stockton Times. “The first artist’s impressions show how the £3.2m refurbishment is going to create light, airy rooms within the Gothic building full of comfortable workstations and collaborative areas.” … “In 2016, councillors voted to close the library and move its services into the Dolphin Centre to save £300,000-a-year, but the public outcry forced a rethink – and perhaps even a change in the political make-up of the council. A new Conservative-led administration was elected in 2019 and is now overseeing the library’s reshaping.”
  • Enfield – ‘Sensory space’ launches at Enfield Town Library – Enfield Dispatch. “The facility, created by Enfield Council’s library services team, employs the latest in sensory technology to provide “a safe, welcoming and stimulating environment” specifically designed to help both children and adults develop through sensory play. The space includes an interactive projected floor, activity panels, an infinity mirror, colour changing mood lights and a projector TV.”
  • Highlands – High Life Highland’s libraries to provide technological support for people living with type 2 diabetes – Highland Council. “The project is a partnership with NHS Highland, High Life Highland, Diabetes Scotland and AbilityNet to provide iPads, mobile internet connections, training and support for people at risk of diabetes and those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”
  • Nottingham – Landmark building wins major award – My Nottingham News. “The development of the new Broad Marsh Car Park, Bus Station and Central Library building has won a major construction industry award. The £50m project was winner of the Integration and Collaborative Working Award and came runner-up in the Building Project of the Year at the East Midlands Construction Excellence Awards.”
  • Nottinghamshire – We Talk to Entrepreneurs on Overcoming Business Fears at Notts Libraries’ BIPC Mansfield launch – Left Lion. “four shiny new Business and IP Centres at Beeston, Bulwell, Mansfield, and Sutton-in-Ashfield Libraries. Run by Inspire Libraries on behalf of the County Council, entrepreneurs and business owners can meet with BIPC Advisors to discuss their business and access online reports and resources which have a combined worth of over £5 million.”
  • Powys – Less than a fortnight left to join discussion on library hubs development – Brecon and Radnor Express. Survey in two parts: “Access to Services and Digital Exclusion Survey -will assess how easy or difficult it is for residents to access key services and information in Powys and how that might be improved by creating digital hubs in libraries where people can get support. Digital Hub Workspaces Survey – will gauge the interest in the development of workspaces within libraries aimed at people who might currently be working from home or those considering starting a small business.”
  • Tower Hamlets – The London Underground station that has the ‘weirdest entrance’ in the basement of an old library – MyLondon. “Aldgate East station must have the weirdest entrance anywhere on the network as it is actually entered through an opening in the ground floor of Whitechapel Library. It’s one of the oldest libraries in London, and can feel like you are walking down the steps into the lost basement of a gothic mansion – one which wouldn’t look out of place in any Scooby Doo cartoon.”
  • Warrington – Warrington Libraries’ first LitFest is a hit – Warrington Worldwide. “he week-long celebrations included the performance of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Neil Gore of Townsend Theatre Productions, at Padgate Library, which was sponsored by Torus and Unison. The Jubilee family fun day attracted 500 participants with sessions by Cheshire Fire and Rescue, Mulan Culture and The Warrington Signing Choir.”
  • Wirral – Why you will see more than 8,000 flowers on display – Liverpool Echo. “8,372 white paper flowers will go on display at Birkenhead Central Library. Each flower will represent one Muslim man or youth who was killed in a bid to raise awareness of the tragedy and spread a message of unity and tolerance throughout the region.”
    • Wirral Council cuts: Golf courses and libraries spared – BBC News. “Libraries will be retained at Birkenhead Central, West Kirby, Wallasey Central, and Bebington Central, with a further four smaller locations in Eastham, Moreton, Upton, and Heswall. Libraries earmarked for closure in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby, Prenton, Wallasey Village, Higher Bebington and Woodchurch will also move to the next stage of a community asset transfer.”
    • Wirral’s first covid testing site to reopen as a library – Liverpool Echo. “Heswall Library, on Telegraph Road, was the first indoor covid testing site to open in the Wirral. First opened in November 2020, it remained open throughout the pandemic until the government ended the requirement for testing on Friday, April 1 of this year, when it was closed. The building has now been decommissioned as a testing centre and will resume its original purpose, as a community library, next week, on Tuesday, June 21. The council said that library staff have been working “flat out” to restore the space to its past life.”
  • Worcestershire – New tech allows customers to visit county libraries after hours – Worcester News. “Libraries Unlocked membership is only available for those aged 16 and over however under 16s can visit during the new hours if accompanied by a member.”
  • Wrexham – Build your own fun with Lego Clubs at Wrexham libraries – The Leader. Library news update.

The real challenge

Editorial

The Summer Reading Challenge for children, this year themed as “Gadgeteers”, is officially launching in England on Saturday 9 July. It’s by far the biggest promotion that public libraries put on each year and has the highest profile in the public mind. Ask most parents, at least in my limited and biased experience, and they’re likely to know about it. Primary schools too. And this is especially key for the sector this year, as both parents and schools are intensely aware that their children may be a bit behind in reading due to lockdowns. So libraries are pushing, hopefully, at an open door this year. Which is good because this therefore represents the biggest and best opportunity have had so far to get adults and childrens back to visiting them. Best of luck then to you all in organising getting as many people as possible into libraries in July and August. There are already articles appearing about it a month before the event so things are looking good and I’ll certainly be covering it more in future posts. Between doing school assemblies that is.

Changes by Local Authority

National news

  • 2022 Marketing Excellence Awards – CILIP. “The awards offer national exposure for your project and communicate the value of what you’re doing among funders, partners, media, peers, managers and customers. You’ve done the hard work, delivering your project. Now win some extra recognition”
  • Books, books, books: An obsessive-compulsive tour of England’s libraries – Times Literary Supplement. “Among the duties he imposes on himself is to make sense of “who, library-wise, runs what”. “We’re Southend”, he’s told when trying to log on using his Essex county council card. Southend is in Essex, but, owing to a pettifogging quirk of local government that he never manages to fathom, its library is municipally independent.” … “In 2009, 68 per cent of all books published sold an average of eighteen copies each. It is to be hoped that An English Library Journey – eccentric homage and passionate clarion call – does better than that.”. Amazon page.
CILIP Library Conference [I’ll be doing a short talk on intellectual freedom in public libraries and will be there both days if you want to say hi. – Ed.]
  • Fantastic for Families Awards 2022: Applications now open – Family Arts. Need to submit before 22 June.
  • Instrument Libraries – call for donations of money and instruments – Edinburgh Reporter. Several public libraries involved. “Each library is paired with a local music project or the local authority’s instrumental music service, and all of the libraries are keen to build links with other local music groups, schools, community projects and venues. The project has just launched a crowdfunding campaign, with a call-out for donations of both money and musical instruments,to help fill the libraries with as many musical instruments and learning resources as possible.”
  • A library alt text bot – Library Data Blog. “There is a significant amount of current bad practice. It’s common to see library services tweet out posters, with key information only in image format, publishing these on social media without any corresponding text. In many cases this is the only place the information is published. To someone using a screen reader all they know is that their library has shared an image. It could be a funny photo of a cat that’s squashed itself into a box, or it could be a notification that the library is closed that day. So, I created the library alt text bot.” … “Many have decided to block the bot and continue to tweet content that isn’t accessible.”
  • Libraries Connected announces Peer Mentoring Scheme – Libraries Connected.
  • Libraries Connected calls for increased support for library services amid cost-of-living crisis – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected is urging the Government not to “take libraries for granted” as they cope with increased demand resulting from the cost-of-living crisis. A recent survey of 32 heads of library services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland conducted by Libraries Connected revealed that over 80% expect an increase in people using libraries to keep warm next winter. This has the potential to place extra pressure on library staff.” Report here (PDF).
  • The Library of Things: coming to a town near you – Positive News. “Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the model will now be expanded from the existing seven neighbourhoods to 50 across England.”
  • Murdering the competition: Richard Osman thriller tops UK library loans – Guardian. “Following Osman’s novel, the second most borrowed book was Blue Moon, from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Other crime and thriller books in the top 10 were The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, Find Them Dead by Peter James and The Sentinel, also by Child.” … “Rowling dominated the list of most borrowed children’s titles, with all seven Harry Potter books coming out on top.The three remaining slots in the children’s top 10 were taken by David Walliams”

“The figures cover a period in which a lot of libraries had to close for periods of time because of the pandemic. Tom Holland, author and chair of the PLR advisory committee said that“to have kept the show on the road during a time of pandemic, and ensured that authors will continue to be paid for library loans, despite the very worst that Covid could do, has been nothing less than heroic”.”

International news

Ireland: national public library consultation
  • Ireland – Hefty eBook fees causing crisis for library budgets – Irish Examiner. “Scandalous” high eBook prices from English-language “Big Five” publishers.
  • Turkey – In Turkey, book publishers face agonising choices to survive – Al Jazeera. Inflation and high cost or print greatly reducing range of new Turkish books.
  • USA – Quitting Time – American Libraries. “The pandemic is exacerbating attrition among library workers” … “Common reasons for resignations include burnout, frustration, low pay, and low morale. Those factors are notably pervasive in the library world”
    • Conservative parents take aim at library apps meant to expand access to books – NBC News. “Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.”
    • The Mind Behind Maus Speaks Out – I Love Libraries. “Art Spiegelman’s life was changed by libraries. The author and artist of graphic novel Maus spoke with American Libraries in their June 2022 issue about the importance of libraries in his life growing up and shared his thoughts on the increase in book challenges and bans occurring across the US—including those involving Maus. Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic novel details his father’s experiences during the Holocaust, with Jewish characters depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus has been the subject of multiple challenges and bans since its publication in 1991—most recently in January when the board of McMinn County (Tenn.) School District removed the title from its 8th-grade curriculum for depictions of nudity and adult language.”
    • Mobile library Street Books feeds literary passions of Portlanders living outdoors – OPB. “Near a street corner in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood, street librarian Diana Rempe has set up a cargo bike with a shelf display and a massive wooden box emblazoned with “Street Books”.”
    • Report: “Comics Librarians Are Up for the Fight” – Infodocket. “Graphic novels are easy targets for challenges, because “there are panels that are easy to pull out and throw around on social media and take out of context”
    • We need to have a talk about “censorship” – Pure Unhinged Ideology. Librarian argues against neutrality: “Applying this inclusion of “all views,” as hoopla insists they do, means you get books in their collection on Holocaust denialism (Debating the Holocaust), COVID denialism (Fight COVID with Melatonin), conversion therapy (Attack on the Family), and defenses of the alt-right in their own words (A Fair Hearing).” … “librarianship has got to have a reckoning about this whole censorship/intellectual freedom/neutrality debacle.”.

Local news by authority

  • North Yorkshire – Recycling small electricals can make a big difference – North Yorkshire County Council. “20 libraries across the county will temporarily be collecting small electrical items until July 8. Participating libraries will also be giving away tubs to store used batteries, which will be available while stocks last.”
    • Library visits remain low following pandemic – Craven Herald. “library visits in the year to April were at about 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, book issues had returned to about 85 per cent of the number being borrowed before March 2020.” … “although the county’s “almost unique model” of largely volunteer-run libraries had only reopened partially following lockdowns last year, it still attracted more than a million visits last year and saw nearly 1.5 million books issued.”
    • Volunteers sought to help young readers connect with science – North Yorkshire County Council. Summer Reading Challenge: ““Taking part as a volunteer is always rewarding and I look forward to it every year. It feels amazing being able to share my love for reading with the children.””
  • Nottingham – ‘Enormous shame’ as more flats could be created on former Nottingham library site – Nottinghamshire Live. Carlton Road Library closed in 2011. One member of public says “I just think it would be a real shame. A library closes down and it’s for the public. I just think it’s an enormous shame. Libraries are for everyone. I think it would be an enormous shame – we have enough flats.” but others say flats are needed.
  • Shetlands – Library stats best in the UK per head of population – Shetland News. Due to swift recovery after lockdowns. “… during lockdown there was a “huge uptake” in electronic services. We also changed to home deliveries […] of media in print, and that was really appreciated by lots of families as well”

“There can be no levelling up in the UK until there is a restoration of funding for the public services on which we all rely. Conservative Governments since 2010 have decimated funding to local authorities. Central Government funding for Wirral Council dropped 85% between 2010 and 2020. The impact on our communities is devastating. As a result, in Wirral West the future of libraries in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby and Woodchurch is uncertain, as is the future of Woodchurch leisure centre and swimming pool. Far from levelling up, the loss of those facilities means the running down and impoverishment of the lives of everyone who relies on the services. How short-sighted of the Government to ignore the importance of libraries, pools and leisure centres.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, Wirral West
  • Worcestershire – Bromsgrove library helps Ukrainian guests connect in the community – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “The library along with Pershore, Malvern, Kidderminster and The Hive is hosting Ukraine Connections sessions for Ukrainian visitors and their host families living in the area.” … ““Host families are encouraged to bring their Ukrainian guests to their local library, so they can see for themselves the role public libraries in the UK play.””