Local elections

Editorial

Local elections have resulted in a several changes of control, with perhaps the most significant one for libraries being in Barnet, which has experienced a lot of cuts over the years, has changed from Conservative to Labour. It will be interesting to see if this results on any changed to libraries. Pulling back to see the bigger picture, the results suggest that the Conservatives are increasingly vulnerable, making possible a Labour (and thus higher spending on public services) government is at least possible this decade.

Change-wise, one more library service going fines-free, with 38 now not charge any late fees in the UK, two branches have had an extension of opening hours, one had had a refurbishment and a last library is moving into a new co-location. So on the face of it no bad news there. Across the water, the campaign by some to turn the USA into something close to The Handmaid’s Tale continues with moves to censor what library users are allowed to read.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Communicate Your Library’s Value through Partnerships – Infobase. Webinar, Wednesday 18 May 8pm. “You know how much your library has to offer. But does your community? The secret isn’t marketing—it’s partnership. In this webinar, Dr. Audrey Barbakoff, an experienced public library leader and founder of Co/Lab Capacity, will discuss how to co-create services and programs that will authentically engage and inspire your community.”
  • Partnership between DMU and UK libraries ensures more young people learn about the legacy of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence – De Montfort University. “The landmark Library of Birmingham – Europe’s biggest public library – is being lit up in orange in honour of Stephen, while all 16 libraries across Leicester have book displays of titles that celebrate diversity and a positive vision for the future.”
  • Who is using public libraries’ digital collections in England? – Kevin J Bolton Ltd. “The study demonstrates that in terms of SEC, education level, age, and ethnicity that those using digital collections are not as representative as those who visit in person. Therefore, library services need to think carefully about developing their digital services to reach a broader range of people.” … “The study also demonstrates the importance of visiting a library during childhood on adult library use.” … “, this study shows the importance of going beyond descriptive statistics and using inferential statistical analyses to understand library use.”

International news

Local news by authority

Under the election radar

Editorial

I’ve not heard the word “hollowed out” for a while and it’s a bit depressing to read it again. There’s an article in the Guardian on the subject, including the downright terrifying statistic that there has been a ” 52% reduction in the number of library visits per person between 2009/10 and 2019/20″. Terrifying because I suspect it is true. I’m not so sure about the statistic quoted that a third of all libraries have closed since 2009/10, though, even if one includes all the volunteer libraries and accepts that it’s the smallest libraries that are closed, but the 44% cut in funding rings true, if inflation is taken into account.

So why this report now? Well, the local elections are going ahead, with not much mention of libraries. On the surface, things seem to be going OK, with there being one entirely new library this week, three moves of libraries and one library likely to close. However, Libraries Connected report that “more than one in four libraries managing cuts of between 5% and 20% this year”, which is pretty dang bad. So why the low profile of libraries in campaigns? Well, it’s only in those areas with particular threats, notably Essex, where libraries are mentioned in campaigns. Councils have learnt to cut libraries, not close them, in order to not push the public into protests.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 10Tickers – 10Tickers. “The charming 10Tickers book series introduces children to the seven areas of
    learning and development contained in the EYFS curriculum.” … “‘As part of our CSR initiative we are giving 10 sets of our 10Tickers book series to local library authorities for free with the aim of helping young children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The books introduce children to the seven areas of learning and development contained in the Early Years Foundation statutory framework. QR codes are featured in the books, whereby children can access online content. This online content includes simple activities, games and pdfs. To get involved please email info@10tickers.com regarding this CSR initiative! You can also visit www.10Tickers.com to see more information on the books.’”
  • Board Games in Libraries – Newcastle Libraries. Thursday 19 May, 18:00, online. “An online meet-up, primarily for library staff, to share their experiences and learn more about using board games in libraries.”
  • Farshore to be headline sponsor for CILIP Youth Libraries Group Conference – BookSeller. “The conference will take place from 16th–18th September at The Quays Hotel in Sheffield. It will be in person for the first time in two years, but there will be a virtual programme of events running from 12th–14th September for those unable to attend.  This year’s conference will celebrate the theme of “Reading the Planet; Libraries in a Changing Climate …”
  • Libraries Connected Annual Report 2021 – Libraries Connected. “With more than one in four libraries managing cuts of between 5% and 20% this year, we are advocating for libraries in the latest spending review”
  • Libraries Improvement Fund Round 2 – Arts Council England. “This fund will enable library services across England to invest in a range of projects to upgrade buildings and technology so they are better placed to respond to the changing ways people are using them.  ” £5m.
  • Local government in England ‘hollowed out’ under Conservatives – Guardian. “An example cited in the report about the difficulty of comparing local authority services was the impact on libraries. A third of all libraries have closed amid a 44% reduction in spending since 2010. There is, however, little relationship between spending and closures, because many cost savings come through means such as fewer staff and reduced opening hours. The effect has been a 52% reduction in the number of library visits per person between 2009/10 and 2019/20.”
  • Malorie Blackman: ‘If I’m only known for Noughts and Crosses, I’m OK with that’ – I. “she sometimes got a frosty reception – not from the kids, but from the teachers, librarians and writers who didn’t welcome the presence of a black author who wrote about black characters.”
  • Sissay announced as ambassador for Manchester Festival of Libraries – BookSeller. “The festival, which highlights what is offered by the library service, runs from 15th to 19th June and will stage 80 events covering everything from wellbeing to culture and creativity.  “

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – CrimeFest Donates Books to Libraries Across Bristol – Shots Mag. “The Big Library Crime Book Giveaway, organised by the UK’s biggest crime fiction convention CrimeFest, takes place at the end of April. Roughly 650 crime books will be given to all 27 libraries across the city from 29 April – 1 May. The initiative is being supported by bestselling author, Ann Cleeves, who is a vocal advocate of reading and libraries as a ‘lifeline’.”
  • Derbyshire – Ada Belfield Centre and Belper Library, Belper, Derbyshire – Riba Journal. “This enlightened project combines a residential care building for the elderly with a new public library, with both sharing a courtyard and public café. In doing so, it revives a derelict backland former chocolate factory within Derwent Valley Mills Unesco World Heritage Site and connects it back to the energy of the high street.”
  • Devon – Dilapidated library that ‘defied gravity’ gets major £1.7million move in Bideford – Devon Live. “Bideford Library is set to move to a new and modern building in a £1.7million relocation scheme. Devon County Council has completed a competitive tender process with the Bideford Library moving from its current location on New Road to the Bideford Arts Centre building. The total cost for the project is estimated to be £1,696,052.70. Barnstaple firm Pearce Construction will undertake the development.”
    • New mobile library replaces ‘Gertie’ – Tavistock Today. “The replacement vehicle is only six years old and was bought second hand with a £15,000 grant from Devon County Council – a tenth of the cost of a brand new vehicle.”
  • East Riding – Chance to find your voice at library Cuppa and Chorus sessions – Scarborough News. “Cuppa and a Chorus aims to lift mood, encourage wellbeing, and combat isolation. Sessions comprise of a relaxed ‘getting to know you’ social between the facilitator and those taking part, to enjoy a drink and light refreshments and set the tone of togetherness.”
  • Essex – New beach libraries set up in Clacton, Walton and Dovercourt – Clacton and Frinton Gazette. “Run by different community groups around the district, the sites contain fun items such as buckets and spades for groups to use for the day.”
    • Save Our Libraries respond to council proposals – Your Harlow. “‘It stands to reason that when a library has to give up space to share with other organisations and services, there will be less room for books, less room to study, and less room for computers’, said a SOLE spokesperson.”
    • Work gets underway to deliver Shenfield’s new library – Essex Council. “In July 2021, Essex Housing, our housing development company, secured planning consent to revitalise the site through the construction of a new library funded by a modest development of nine high-quality apartments above the library space. The redevelopment was subsequently also given the go ahead by Cabinet in October 2021.”
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire residents invited to share their memories of Her Majesty the Queen for Platinum Jubilee exhibition and archive – Hertfordshire Council. “Visitors will have a golden opportunity to view original documents relating to Her Majesty the Queen, including a letter from HRH Princess Elizabeth to Hertfordshire resident Lady Desborough, as well as other examples of royal correspondence, photos and documents. There will also be a chance to add to this historic archive by sharing memories of previous jubilee celebrations and royal visits over tea and cake, in true regal style.”
  • Lambeth -Lambeth Libraries – community events, talks, quizzes and services for May 2022 – Brixton Buzz. “We are looking to set up Children and Young People Friends Groups for each Lambeth Library. As part of Lambeth becoming a Child Friendly Borough we want to hear what our younger users want. Are we providing the right activities and books?”
  • Manchester – Festival of Libraries 2022 is announced – Manclibraries Blog. “The Festival of Libraries returns in June 2022, and will take place in libraries across Greater Manchester. After a successful debut last year, this year’s festival will run from Wednesday 15 to Sunday 19 June, 2022. The Festival, which is supported by Arts Council England …”
  • North Yorkshire – North Yorkshire libraries encourage you to socialise – York Press. “Events in libraries during Mental Health Awareness Week include Coffee, Cake and Chat drop-ins at which people can enjoy a cuppa and cake and meet new and old friends.”

World Book Night, Big Jubilee Read, Dorset survey, US division and Ukrainian bravery

Editorial

At the time of writing this, World Book Night was yesterday. For those libraries who are successful in bidding for free books, it’s a wonderful way to promote their services and reading, although the glory days some of us remember of truly huge numbers of books being given out may be over. Also promoting reading is the Big Jubilee Read which has been released, although it’s adult-only book list means such authors as Rowling are unfortunately missing. The Jubilee is shaping up to be huge and the Read is, I am sure, just one of the ways that public libraries will get involved, including the news of a gift of 5000 Morpurgo books. For those who wish to see how important libraries are all the year around then the Dorset survey makes interesting reading.

Across the pond, the descent of politics into sharp and extreme division is leading to a fight over what books can be bought for library stock and, also, how much power local politicians have over libraries. The sector has long been semi-independent in many states and so this is a worry developing for many American libraries who value their freedom from politicians. Meanwhile, the fight for freedom against Russian tyranny means news continues to be made in the Ukraine with librarians and libraries helping the fight.

Changes by local authority

National news

International news

  • Ukraine – In Lviv, Ukrainian volunteers create camo netting and community – NBC News. “Near the corner of the square, inside an ornate building that now houses a youth library, volunteers convene to create camouflage nets for soldiers on the front lines. Built in the 17th century with walls carrying ornamental painted trim and vaulted ceilings, this library has made room for one of the many beating hearts of volunteer work and Ukrainian patriotism within a city that’s served as a relative safe haven from the horrors of Kyiv, Bucha and the eastern front.” … “In this library, where locals still borrow books and which once housed royalty and then a seminary, volunteers have made more than 500 nets that collectively stretch over 32,000 square feet.”
    • Ukraine blog – The secret weapon in Ukraine’s fight against Russia – libraries – Library Campaign. “Far from being passive victims, the country’s libraries are involved in the fight for victory. Just as British Libraries encouraged their patrons to Read for Victory during WW2 and embedded themselves as Information Bureaus within their local communities, so too are Ukrainian libraries playing vital roles within this conflict.”
  • USA – Why Libraries May Never Stop Being People Places – New York Times. “Libby suggests, intentionally or not, that public libraries, the actual buildings, are no longer necessary, that libraries have become — like everything and everyone else — place-less purveyors of content. But if during the past couple of years you replaced in-person library visits with an app, you may be missing out. What many public libraries have done, despite Covid and because of it, is consciously enhance their physical presence on the street and in the neighborhood.”

As Mr. Reyes-Gavilan put it about the King Memorial Library roof deck, “When I’m up there on a warm day like today, people are so thankful that such a space exists.” Or, as Ms. Houben, who argues that every library needs a garden, suggested, “A library should be so nice that you bring your own book, right?”

  • New Kentucky Law Hands Control of Libraries to Local Politicians – Publishers Weekly. “Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians.”

Local news by authority

  • Cumbria – Cumbrian libraries give out free books for World Book Night – News and Star. “Adult Learning Teams will support the Libraries Service in offering the books to groups that use libraries to develop their literacy and English language skills. “
  • Devon – Library exhibition celebrates female football – North Devon Gazette. “Supported by an Arts Council England DYCP grant, photographer Amanda McCormack spent six months capturing images of Fremington FC’s female teams from the Wildcats, who start at five years-old, to the women’s team aged 16 and up.  “
  • Dorset – Joint Overview Committee to review draft Library strategy – Dorset Council. Interesting look at what the public values in a library. “The consultation did not include any proposals for change, it sought the views of library users and non-users, partners, businesses, and employees to understand how the service could better meet the needs of residents now and in the future.”
    • Importance of Dorset libraries highlighted – Dorset Echo. “In the consultation, younger people said they would like to see more clubs in the library as well as arts and crafts sessions and board games. Those over 16 wanted a better range of stock and suggested a coffee shop. Responses from businesses and partners showed a need for community spaces, hot-desking and co-working spaces, and the ability for organisations to use libraries to run clinics or groups to support communities with health, wellbeing, and safety.”
  • Essex – Essex libraries safe for at least four more years – Thurrock Gazette. “The initiative was signed-off after an eight-week public consolation period in which the views of thousands of residents were taken on board. The project promises to increase the range of online resources available while also investing in training and the upskilling of staff at Essex’s 74 libraries.”
  • Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough library grant to tackle digital exclusion – BBC. £270K through Life Improvement Fund. “The funding for the Grade II-listed central library will be used for computers and printing facilities and create a “21st Century service”.”
  • North Somerset – Call for memories to create jubilee bunting – Weston Mercury. “Residents are being invited to put a memory from the past 70 years onto a flag which will be made into bunting to decorate North Somerset’s libraries. The memory can be personal, to remember a loved one for example, an event in family life, or a national event. Free workshops are being arranged where people can go along and find out more and complete a flag for the bunting. “
  • North Yorkshire – Families welcomed into library’s new-look children’s area – Harrogate News. “The new layout allows children to read in a cosy hideaway or sit under a large tree which is lined with brightly coloured comfortable seating. Mobile shelving has been added to enable flexible use of the space for events and activities, including the popular weekly story times and half-term craft and theatre sessions. The library has also benefitted from a £3,000 investment in reading material including picture books, board books and audio books, as well as popular junior fiction and non-fiction titles”
    • A chance to learn the Yorkshire lingo at the library – The Press. “Events will be held in libraries around the county as Ryedale Folk Museum and the Dales Countryside Museum theme the month around dialect and language. These events are part of a research project into how we speak, led by the University of Leeds.”
  • Nottingham – One Hyson: Growing Together – Libraries project funded by Arts Council England (ACE) Libraries Improvement Fund – Nottingham Council. £114k.
    • Nottingham City Council defends decision to close three libraries – LocalGov. “‘The council needs to save money because it has wasted money on vanity projects. That’s not the fault of the libraries. The council is currently employing consultants at a cost of £1,000 a day. They clearly have money. This is about priorities.’” but council says “I certainly didn’t come into politics to close libraries, but we are facing a financial reality which requires incredibly difficult decisions to be made. There is no doubt that there has been a national decline in library usage over the last ten years which has been mirrored in Nottingham, further accelerated by the pandemic. We therefore need to shape our library service to meet emerging and future needs.”
    • Campaign grows as three Nottingham libraries face axe – BBC. “A campaign to save three of Nottingham’s libraries has been gaining traction in recent weeks as thousands of people have signed a petition to keep them open and 100 writers, poets and librarians signed an open letter to the city council leader.”
  • Stockport – Edgeley, Great Moor and Reddish libraries go Open+ – Stockport Council. “Open+ is a great way for residents to get the most out of their local library. Once locals have signed up the scheme they can use the library at a time convenient to them, making our services more available to those who may not be able to use the library during staffed hours.””
  • Suffolk – Chantry men’s wellbeing group take up ‘new fight’ with 300-mile challenge – Ipswich Star. “The idea to cycle between all 44 of the county’s libraries was born after Corrin Eaton, a founding member of the Men Can Talk social group at Chantry Library, wanted to do something to help the venue that provides a home for the support group. “
  • Torbay – Libraries Unlimited South West – Torbay Lottery. “We offer free access to thousands of books, eBooks, audiobooks, eAudiobooks, online reference, music and magazines. Each of our libraries runs numerous events and activities for all the family, and staff are on hand to help you find anything you need. We need your help so we can continue to offer and develop our service in Torbay. Thank you for your support and good luck” £624 of £1300 raised.
  • Wakefield – Explore science and industry at this year’s WordFest – Wakefield Express. “The festival, which runs throughout May 2022 and features daily digital activities, a youth-led sister festival ‘LitFest’ producing a ‘zine’ written and edited by young people. All libraries will become WordLabs – with competitions for children and word-themed challenges being set every week such as mini-catapult making, Lego tower building and paper aeroplane design.”

Two points on two different timelines

Editorial

Two councils this week demonstrates, at different stages of the process, what can happen when a council tries to close libraries that have strong public support. In Essex, sustained and well-organised protests lasted long-term, eventually not only leading to a u-turn promise that no libraries would be closed but also, this week, the announcement of £2.4m of various funds for the service. Nottingham Council is still trying to close some of their libraries but with some of their own councillors coming out against the move, billboards being put up in protest and local authors banding together. It would be great to think that the Nottingham story will end as relatively happily as the Essex one but of course each council does things differently. We’ll only find out when we find out. Elsewhere, there’s a couple of stories showing the strength of Ukrainians and some Arts Council England funding to boost volunteering in a couple of services.

Changes by local authority

National news

“In order to provide Ukrainians with a range of free reading, listening, learning and entertainment opportunities, multimedia content provider Odilo  launched a free app for both Android and iOS in early April. Available across Europe, the app includes 3000 e-books and audiobooks in a variety of genres, including 1,700 Ukrainian titles and 500 in English. There is material for both children and adults. Kraal: ‘We hope that everyone – from social workers to host families – will draw the attention of the refugees to this app. To offer them the support, pleasure or comfort of reading, learning and listening in these difficult and uncertain times.” Links to the app: Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=es.odilo.ukraine iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ukraine-unlimited-learning/id1615037168

  • New Voices, Big Ideas apply to speak – CILIP. “This year, we want to hear from people who have never spoken at a conference before, but have big ideas that they would like to share at the session “New Voices, Big Ideas”. CILIP is looking for 6 speakers to each give a lightning talk around the theme of “What is Sustainability?”
  • Scottish libraries ‘lost out on more than £250m’ in last decade, new Labour analysis shows – Morning Star. “The party cited figures from the Improvement Service’s local government benchmarking framework, which showed that by 2020-21, real-terms cumulative cuts to the net expenditure on libraries had hit £257,125,000.”

International news

  • Ireland – €20m grant funding announced for school libraries – Independent.ie. “Public libraries already provide a range of supports for school under the Public Library Supports for Schools jointly agreed by the Department of Education and the Department of Rural and Community Development. Public libraries will also support the roll-out of the School Library Book Grant through the provision of additional measures and resources, in two steps.”
  • Spain – Barcelona honours Gabriel García Márquez with new library – Guardian. “In the digital age, building a new library filled with old-fashioned printed books seems idealistic, almost quixotic. Not so in Barcelona. The city council is about to open a new €12m (£10m) library next month, the latest instalment in a programme that dates back 20 years.”
  • UkraineLibraries around the world are helping safeguard Ukrainian books and culture – Conversation. “Just as libraries have collected, preserved and shared knowledge held by their own institutions over the past century, they are now sharing this knowledge globally so that when the war is over, Ukraine can see its cultural treasures rescued and restored.”
  • USAThe 2022 Peeps Diorama Contest – Library Arts Center. “Make an original shoebox-sized diorama with the iconic Easter candies—PEEPS!—as the main characters.    Community members of all ages, businesses, school classrooms, groups & organizations are all encouraged to enter.  Take cues from current events, pop culture, or clever “peeps”  puns …”

Local news by authority

Happy holidays everyone

Editorial

A quiet Easter week by the look of it. Happy Easter everyone.

National news

  • All Stories relaunches mentorship programme for writers from underrepresented groups – BookSeller. “Year two will offer 10 mentorships to writers of middle-grade and young adult fiction across nine months, evolving from the previous format where writers for all age groups were mentored together for six months. Picture book and young fiction writers will be supported the following year, in an ongoing pattern.”
  • Engaging the public with research in libraries: An introduction to the toolkit – Libraries Connected. Webinar. Tuesday 26 April, 13.
  • Living with Covid 19 guidance – April 2022 – Libraries Connected. “Libraries should continue to make risk assessments in line with their local circumstances and to consider the needs of any vulnerable staff, volunteers and users.”
  • Printer Near Me: Price and Value of Printing in the Local Library – Lorensbergs. Survey of public library printing charges. “As more libraries stop fining for overdue items, print revenue becomes even more significant. What libraries charge for printouts is therefore critical to get right. Too high and it disadvantages those users on lower income, too low and it disadvantages the library. “
  • Strategic Insights Webinar: Recruiting in a competitive environment – Libraries Connected. Wednesday 13 April, 15:30. “At this webinar we will hear from Manchester and Kirklees Libraries on how they have bucked the trend and launched innovative recruitment processes to attract high calibre and more diverse staff.”
  • Support our Libraries: Labour hits out at SNP on its funding record – Scotsman. “Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of “gutting local communities” after new analysis revealed cuts to local government have led to libraries losing out on more than £250 million in the last decade.” … “The party has cited figures from the Improvement Service’s Local Government Benchmarking Framework, which showed that by 2020/21, real-terms cumulative cuts to the net expenditure on libraries had hit £257,125,000 over the last 10 years.”
  • Transition – problems, solutions, conclusions – National Acquisitions Group. Wednesday 11 May, Birmingham. “Change requires transition, such as migrating to a new library management system; working under a new management structure; adapting to a reduced staff or resources budget; moving or withdrawing large parts of our collections; or changing our collections and acquisitions policies/workflows.”

International news

Local news by authority

(Public) Libraries of Things

Editorial

Similar to the way that libraries are not just the buildings, libraries should also not just limit themselves to lending books. Over the years, we have read about libraries giving out period products, dog poo bags and Covid tests. Libraries have also been known to lend out a variety of things such as fishing rods, skating shoes and Halloween costumes. Libraries of Things take this concept to the natural conclusion and lend out a whole bunch more. My first note of them comes from 2014 but they have been around a lot longer than that and are a perfect fit for public libraries. After all, public libraries already have a computer system set up for labelling and tracking things for issuing and returning, buildings in local communities and a staff used to public service and being non-profit. So it’s good to see recently a couple of services – Greenwich and Essex – going down this route. I suspect that they are among the first of many. Just like in fact those services who are going fines-free, with yet another, South Lanarkshire, joining those ranks this week.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Engaging the public with research – Libraries Connected. “We’ve developed a new toolkit in collaboration with Carnegie UK to help guide libraries through this process. It draws on evidence collected during the Engaging Libraries programme which ran from 2016-2021. This programme supported public libraries across the UK to develop and deliver public engagement activities.”

“Seven libraries received, I think, £200,000, which brings the total funding through that fund to £1.25 million. We will continue to support public libraries, because we understand the clear role that they play in local communities, in terms of culture and heritage. They also have a wider role to play, and we will be looking to support our public libraries to continue the good work that they are doing.”

Neil Gray, SNP.

Libraries as a statutory service – DCMS. Updated April 1 2022.

  • Libraries receive final funding boost for Covid relief – STV. “The sum is the last tranche of awards to be made from the Scottish Government’s £1.25 million Public Library Covid Relief Fund administered by the Scottish Library and Information Council. The fund has supported a total of 30 library community projects since it was set up in October last year. Library services sharing the final funding include South Ayrshire, for its Friendly Faces Cafes to tackle social isolation and Dundee’s Miners, Modellers, and Makers project, which will create eight STEM clubs to improve the “digital divide” – the gap between those who have access to new technology and those who do not.”
  • Webinar: Survive and Thrive – Practical Steps You Can Take In Your Library Service – Innovative. “We want local authorities and commissioners to think ‘libraries first’ whenever they need to deliver a service to communities. Experts Isobel Hunter and Susan Wills discuss practical initiatives you can take right now, to make that happen.”
  • World Book Night 2022 – British Library. “This event takes place in the British Library Theatre. It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform.”. See also World Book Night resources.

International news

Local news by authority

“With the cost of living crisis impacting on so many people’s finances, we recognise another cost, although small, is the last thing that anyone needs.”

South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture’s general manager, Kay Morrison

An actual new library, plus almost all good news

Editorial

It’s pretty much all good news in the “Changes by local authority” section this week, with the star being an absolutely new I-kid-you-not not-a-relocation-or-colocation library in Milton Keynes. Not many of those come around. Well, apart from the 200 reported by CIPFA a few weeks ago, and I am sure they will tell us exactly where those are shortly. Then we have a very impressive £550k (plus some extra stuff) to spruce up Leeds and a Library of Things (I’ve always wanted one of those myself) in Greenwich. Then we have Sheffield become the latest library service to become fines-free. Extended opening is happening in Bedford, albeit by staff-less technology and there’s another new library, again albeit a volunteer one, in Llanteg. So it’s pretty much all positive, apart from continuing rumblings in Nottingham to keep us mildly depressed.

Changes by local authority

National news

International news

  • Afghanistan Afghanistan’s libraries go into blackout: ‘It is painful to see the distance between people and books grow – The Conversation. “The Taliban have not announced their policy regarding books, but the memories of what happened to libraries and reading culture in the mid-‘90s, when they first came to power, still serve. Though Charmaghz has resumed its operations, and our library in Mazar-i-Sharif is still open, the recovery of the reading culture and book industry seems a distant dream. Sitting in the once-buzzing library by himself, Ehsas tells me that books are like lights. With no one coming to the library and opening the books, “the lights are off.””
  • Norway – Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway attends library conference – Royal Central. “over 500 participants who work in the library industry have gathered in Oslo for a series of lectures, debates and seminars. Topics include the library’s role in a variety of areas, including diversity and knowledge dissemination.”
  • USA – Libraries and the Contested Terrain of “Neutrality” – Scholarly Kitchen. “The reality, in other words, is neither that the library is “never neutral” nor that it is “always neutral.” Our world is much more complicated than that. It would be more accurate to say that “the library sometimes and in some contexts must not be neutral, and in others absolutely must be neutral — and sometimes, it’s hard to say what we mean by ‘neutral’ and sometimes it’s hard to say whether ‘neutrality’ is the right or the wrong stance.””
  • Publishing Giants Are Fighting Libraries on E-Books – Sludge. ““It’s unconscionable that trade organizations that purport to support artists and creators are spending so many resources fighting librarians who are simply trying to get better access to resources for their communities”

Local news by authority

“The libraries improvement fund has support for Bradford’s libraries, so that they can improve their offer. Bradford is also one of 15 UK-wide locations that StoryTrails, one of UNBOXED’s commissions, will visit this year.”

Nigel Huddleston, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Bradford City of Culture Bid.
  • Bury – Bury community groups invited to make use of libraries for events and meetings – Bury Times. “Arrangements are now in place for rooms to be rented in the evenings and weekends, with groups allowed to let themselves in. Rooms can be hired at all four borough libraries during library opening hours and at other times by arrangement.”
  • Cumbria – Person banned from Ulverston library for ‘grossly inappropriate’ behaviour – Westmorland Gazette. Freedom of information request lists antisocial issues at library.
  • Dundee – At Home Library Service “a lifeline” for mobility-impaired Dundonians – Courier. “Despite life gradually getting “back to normal” for the majority of society, many of the elderly and clinically vulnerable still feel too anxious to go out. For them, the deliveries of their favourite titles and a chat on the doorstep with the At Home Library workers is one of the highlights of their week.”
  • Glasgow – New chapter for Glasgow’s Woodside Library as it reopens after renovation – Glasgow Evening Times. “As Woodside Library prepares to re-open on Monday after a £2.3m refurbishment, librarian Clare has been digging deep into the city archives and trawling the shelves of the Mitchell for fascinating facts about the 117-year-old building.”
  • Greenwich Woolwich Library of Things – Facebook. “After demand from local residents, we’ve partnered with GLL/Better and Royal Borough of Greenwich council to bring Library of Things to Woolwich! Once open, you will be able to affordably borrow everything from Carpet Cleaners, Pressure Washers, Sewing Machines to Drills, Circular Saws, Projectors, Hedge Trimmers, Ice-Cream Makers and much more. We’ll be announcing pre-booking very soon – so sign up for our newsletter here to keep updated and why not have a sneak preview at what’s available at our open locations :
    https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/woolwich
  • Inverclyde – Free library IT sessions continue – Inverclyde Council. “Bring IT On” sessions for beginners.
  • Kirklees – Award-winning literary festival returns to Huddersfield – Kirklees Together. “The events will be held virtually, and at several venues in Huddersfield. The festival is designed to bring communities together and celebrate diversity.” Libraries will host some events.
  • Leeds – Leeds Central Library receives £500k funding boost – Leeds Council. Libraries Improvement Fund – “The Arts Council England funding will be supplemented by £300,000 from Leeds City Council, bringing the total investment to more than £550,000. The funding will allow the existing music library to be upgraded to provide access to recording equipment, software and instruments for aspiring musicians to practise and perform in a dedicated performance space. In addition, the funding will provide the opportunity to redesign and refurbish the current children’s and lending library rooms, providing updated, attractive and inviting spaces where people can read, socialise, study and relax in the city centre.” … “In a second boost, Leeds Libraries has also received £98,000 to lead a pilot project for the national Ask for a Book initiative which will provide an online service delivering tailored reading recommendations for library users. The suggested titles can then be collected for free from a local library. The Ask for a Book project will be delivered in partnership with creative company Opening the Book and 17 library authorities across the country and has received funding through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants.”
  • Milton Keynes – Brand new library to open in one of Milton Keynes’ most deprived areas – MK Citizen. “A new library is to open in Farthing Grove on Netherfield next week. Called Woughton Library and serving what is one of MK’s most deprived areas, it will also be used as a community meeting place.” .. “Woughton Community Council worked with MK Council to provide the library, with the council contributing £80,000 towards the project.”

“Whilst libraries have been forced to close around the country, we’ve been working hard to ensure that we invest in and protect our libraries.”

Councillor Zoe Nolan, Cabinet member for Children and Families
  • Newcastle – Work underway to decarbonise schools, libraries and public buildings – City Life. Several libraries.
  • Nottingham – Letter: Keep your hands off our precious libraries – Hucknall Dispatch. “Once seen as an important part of the fabric and culture of society, they are now expendable pieces of public spending. They’re something that councils who cannot manage their finances properly, and get told off by the Government, think they can sacrifice to make ends meet. Not in Nottingham, I say”
  • Oldham – Digital Festival – Oldham Council. Virtual reality, digital storytelling, coding.
  • Pembrokeshire – Llanteg opens community libraries in village hall and phone box – Western Telegraph. “In a new chapter for Llanteg, a book swap has been created in a disused phone box, while a community library lounge has opened in its own room in the village hall. The tandem schemes have developed with support from the Co-operative Community Fund and Milford Haven Port Authority as well as local donations.”
  • Powys – Machynlleth Library to host community open day – Wales 247. “As part of the open day, which will be accompanied by music on the lawn, there will be stalls from partner organisations in the community – PAVO, CAMAD and Mid Wales Advice Centre. There will also be children’s activities and exhibitions …”
  • Salford – £82,500 investment in Salford library – Salford Council. Libraries Improvement Fund: “Height Library, in King Street, Irlams o’ th’ Height will see new flexible meeting, events and exhibition areas created, along with a fully accessible toilet. Improvements will be made to the exterior of the library and the entrance will be adapted to make it suitable for independent use by community groups and partners. Timescales for the building work are now being drawn up.”.
  • Sheffield – Sheffield Council scraps library fines for late books – The Star. “Sheffield Council has scrapped all fines for late items just a few months after Sheffield Cathedral received a book believed to be more than 300 years overdue.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire: Library changes won’t mean redundancies, council says – Advertizer. “The authority’s cabinet has approved a new draft library strategy setting out a planned overhaul of the service over the next five years, which will now be subject to public consultation. It includes reviews of all 21 buildings and the mobile library, and could see some libraries co-located with other council services in order to save money. One of the proposed changes is the roll-out of self-service machines, estimated to reduce face-to-face transactions by a third, while the opening hours of each library is to be tailored to best meet the needs of their communities.”. “Cost savings” … “It is also looking at reducing its current £178,000 annual subsidy to the county’s eight community-run libraries”
  • Slough – Senior Slough councillors approve to keep libraries open – Slough Observer. “Following a 12-week consultation, cabinet members agreed at a meeting to keep all four library buildings with reduced opening and staffing hours rather than close the Langley and Cippenham libraries. This will deliver a saving of £400,000 to the 2022/23 budget.”
  • Somerset – Shepton Mallet couple create picture book about library campaign – Somerset County Gazette. “Rob and Helen Heaton’s have finished writing The Town that Saved its Library and given local children to chance to illustrate the book about the campaign to protect the library’s place in the town centre.” … ““We feel that the story of the Shepton Mallet library is a special and important one, and we want the legacy of the people and community that fought so hard to keep it open and in the Market Place to be remembered by the coming generations.”  “
  • Stockport – An innovative, new project run by libraries across Greater Manchester aims to give Stockport entrepreneurs a boost – Stockport Council. “‘Build a Business in GM Libraries’ is a new scheme that will be led by Manchester City Council but delivered across the region. Part–funded by the European Union, the scheme received £1.3 million from ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funding to help make the project a reality. The exciting business-focused scheme will run until June 2023, with workshops having already begun in local libraries across Greater Manchester. The workshops will be running in eight Greater Manchester districts: Bolton; Bury; Oldham; Manchester; Salford; Stockport; Tameside; Trafford.”
  • West Lothian – West Lothian shows the love for local libraries – Falkirk Herald. ““We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who braved the abysmal weather to visit us. Whether you took part in one of the many activities, attended an event, checked out the lovely displays, or just popped in for a cuppa and chat, we really loved seeing you all and appreciate your support.”
  • West Sussex – Overdue and reserving charges to be reintroduced at West Sussex libraries – West Sussex Council. “Overdue fees and charges for reserving items were suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic. With services and opening times now returned to normal, it’s now easier to collect and return items.”
  • Wigan – New library! Wigan libraries (England) – NAPLE Sister Libraries. “The purpose of the Wigan libraries is to exchange of ideas and expertise, promotion of multiculturalism and multilingualism, Staff interchange.”
  • Wrexham – Foodbank collection at Rhos Library – Leader Live.

Concrete improvements

Editorial

Some more information has come out quickly with more details on what the successful councils are doing with Libraries Improvement Funding. It’s good to see physical stuff being built and improved upon by the money, with the hope that more will be coming soon, fingers crossed. The details mean that this is a very positive edition of Public Libraries News. Apart from Croydon, which has started with its cut of 21% in opening hours. Finally it’s nice to see Dermot O’Leary calling libraries “hugely important” and there’s a really nice story from the USA about how libraries are seen as safe spaces.

Changes by library authority

National news

  • CILIP Conference + Expo 2022 – CILIP. Liverpool, Thursday 7 July. “The theme for 2022 is “Libraries, Information and Knowledge for Sustainability” and we want to leverage the collective wisdom of our sector to explore the role of information, evidence and literacy as a truly effective and joined-up response to Climate Change.”
  • Gambling inquest, Libraries, Power of Attorney – BBC Radio Four You and Yours. “Years of council cuts have taken a terrible toll on libraries. Hundreds have closed or been handed over to voluntary groups and many continue to face an uncertain future. But one national library organisation has said the system used to measure the performance and popularity of libraries is not “fit for purpose” and should be replaced. Our reporter, Bob Walker goes to Nottingham where a number of libraries are under threat.”.
  • Service Development Webinar: Bridging the Digital Gap – Libraries Connected. Monday 3 April, 12.30. “This webinar will introduce how the Good Things Foundation can support the work of libraries to bridge the digital divide.”

International news

  • Australia – Libraries: Its Time to ReEngage your Community – Jane Cowell. “While our core key performance indicators of visits, loans and attendance at events are improving, for a lot of libraries this has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. Our funding levels, our efficiency measures and our impact are all measured by these indicators amd whil it is true that the pandemic is the reason, it cannot be used as an excuse for much longer or our funding will be reduced. ” so The Return Yourself to the Library campaign ;  self-serve Click and Collect hubs over the pandemic in community centres; Outreach programming; reconnect with lapsed readers.
  • New Zealand – ‘Nothing was stolen’: New Zealanders carry on borrowing from closed, unstaffed library – Guardian. “A library staff member at Christchurch city council said 380 people came into the building that Sunday morning. “Our self-issue machines automatically started up and 147 books were issued by customers. No book-theft alarms went off, and at this stage nothing has been reported missing, nor have we spotted any damage.””
  • Russia – What the Ukrainian and Russian library associations have said – Librarycase. Russian Library Association on the situation: “Let us remember that libraries have always been and remain the most important institutions regardless of public views and the current political conjuncture. We try to do everything to collect and preserve our common values – our collections, our cultural heritage, the very code of information that we must pass on to the next generations. Our readers need us …”
  • USA – Idaho Republicans push bill that would fine and jail librarians for certain books – Salon. Censorship in the Land of the Free.
    • People are sharing heartwarming stories of libraries being safe spaces and it’s so wholesome – Upworthy. “The public library is one of the greatest inventions humankind has ever imagined and actually made happen. Libraries are perfect in concept and exceptional in practice. The idea that we ought to plop a building full of books to borrow wherever groups of people live is beautiful in its simplicity and the fact that we’ve actually succeeded in doing it is somewhat miraculous …”

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Little Lever Library relocates to new £5 million hub – Bolton News. “Once fully open, Little Lever Health Centre and Library will also host a number of GP practices and health services. The £5m project, which was funded by Bolton Council and the NHS, was completed in December 2021 and has been undergoing interior fitting ready for staff and public use.”
  • Bradford – £200,000 boost to Bradford’s libraries – Telegraph and Argus. Libraries Improvement Fund money: ” a £250,000 project to make adaptations to Council owned library buildings to make them more flexible and usable for community and partner use for a wide range of information and advice sessions, activities and meetings to take place, including outside of normal library opening times.”
  • Brighton – Brighton-based charity to open new library cafe – The Argus. “Team Domenica’s newest cafe at Jubilee Library in Brighton will serve a variety of delicious breakfasts, lunches and cakes, as well as the charity’s speciality coffee, roasted and packaged in Kemp Town. The charity’s cafes provide work-based training for young people with learning disabilities to support them with the skills and confidence they need to find employment and reach their full potential”
  • Bristol – Bristol Central Library set to be transformed by modernisation plans – Bristol 247. Libraries Improvement Fund: “The “significant” improvements to the Grade I listed building by College Green include the refurbishment of the study tables, adding energy efficient lighting and sockets.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire libraries to receive £260,000 in funding – Fenland Citizen. “EverySpace is centred around adaptable, co-managed spaces that enable the community to connect, share, create and discover. It follows the ‘kit-of-parts’ model, capturing the flexibility and inventiveness of a pop-up within a defined architectural system. Enhanced wayfinding draws you in, with adaptable ceiling infrastructure providing moveable power, data and lighting. Multi-functional cabinets, moveable partitions and folding tables and chairs enable diverse configurations and a hi-spec, portable tech suite provides loanable tablets, mini-PCs and a wheeled touchscreen media wall. Accessible, dementia-friendly and autism-friendly design is at the heart of the project, making the spaces inclusive to all users.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Consultation on plans to enhance Biggleswade Library launches – Biggleswade Today. “A consultation on plans to enhance Biggleswade Library to include a new children’s centre and registration service has launched. Central Bedfordshire Council is proposing a major makeover of the library, saying it want to provide “a modern, attractive facility and community hub for residents”. There would be improvements to existing library services, new modern learning facilities and complementary services introduced.” …”the proposal would see a Children’s Centre, Registration Service and a satellite office for council staff co-located within the library building.”
  • Croydon – New timetable for Croydon’s libraries – Croydon Council. “Croydon’s 13 libraries will launch a new timetable next month, with all buildings to remain open and council-owned, following resident feedback from two rounds of public consultation held last year. The new timetable takes into account the way residents currently use libraries and ensures that at least one library in the north, south and central parts of the borough is open and staff available each day (Monday to Saturday). Most libraries will be open two fewer days per week, except Central Library which will be open five days per week. This is in line with the public consultation, where the majority of respondents supported a council-run service with a 21% reduction in opening hours across libraries, rather than outsourcing or a mixture of a council-run / community-run approach.”
  • Devon – Seaton Library closes for a face lift – Devon Live. “As part of the makeover, a new Business and IP Centre (BIPC) is being installed to help give a boost to local businesses.
    • Devon libraries ditch CDs and DVDs in favour of more books – Devon Live. “The 54 libraries and four mobile libraries currently stock 13,616 music CDs and 25,886 film DVDs. But last year borrowing dropped by 25% to 13,083 compared to 17,369 in 2020. This follows a staggering 70% decrease in DVD issues since 2019, and 80-90% decrease in CD issues. In contrast, eBook borrowing rocketed by 85% in 2020.”
  • Dorset – Children in west Dorset bring characters to life for World Book Day – Dorset Echo.
  • Essex – Library scheme to help literacy – Yellow Advertiser. “Every library in Essex will have a designated space to help literacy levels by the end of June, as part of its new plan to reshape the service in the county. The draft council plan details how Essex County Council intends to transform the library service over the next four years – including at its cornerstone how to help children and adults improve their reading in new literacy corners. The authority has also pledged to develop a planned programme of building improvements that will consider upgrade and cosmetic improvements and to develop its mobile library offer to support service outreach and community engagement. And a new online library platform will see a “more user-friendly interface, and enhanced functionality such as online bookings for special events and activities”.”
    • Dermot O’Leary stresses need for libraries after Colchester visit – Maldon Standard. ““But not every kid can afford a book, so libraries are hugely important, and they are up there with hospitals as far as I am concerned.” Dermot’s supportive comments come just over two years after Essex County Council performed a U-turn on their controversial plans to axe libraries in the area.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire public libraries celebrate wellbeing in national programme of events – The Leader.
  • Gloucestershire – First look at new £250k digital learning space planned for Cheltenham – Punchline Gloucester. Libraries Improvement Fund: “the building in Oakley will offer the latest digital technology for all ages, with free facilities, training and support to help with literacy and learning skills.”
    • Official launch of Innovation Lab at Gloucester Library – News Anyway. “The lab at Gloucester Library, funded by local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP, is the second to open in the county, offering the latest digital design equipment and technical expertise available to boost skills and support employment.”
  • Inverclyde – Hearing aid batteries available at libraries – Greenock Telegraph. “The council has teamed up with Inverclyde Royal’s audiology service to give local patients the option on their doorstep.”
  • Milton Keynes – Stony Stratford Library set yo re-open after redevelopment work – Citiblog. “The project has been a partnership between Stony Stratford Town Council and Milton Keynes Council which contributed £100,000 towards the work. Local organisations including Friends of Stony Stratford Library (FOSSL) and Community Foundation have also supported with the installation of a kitchen on the first floor. The two-storey building, which is owned by the Town Council, has undergone a range of changes …”
  • Newcastle – Join the hunt for lost library books! Overdue books Amnesty – Newcastle Council. “Newcastle Libraries are holding an amnesty for overdue books up until 31 May. You can return your overdue books and you’ll not have to pay any existing overdue fines. And you can renew your library membership at the same time – win win”
  • North Yorkshire – Harrogate library to benefit from extensive improvement work – Harrogate News. “The project includes redecoration, the replacement of energy-efficient lighting and remedial damp works.”
    • Northallerton library set to turn a new leaf – York Press. “The new space will include a large tree where children can sit and read, plus decorative tree panels above new shelving on the walls. There will be new brightly coloured seating and shelving to complement the green carpet. The library will also benefit from £3,000 of new reading material including picture books, board books and audio books, as well as popular junior fiction and non-fiction titles.”
    • Scarborough library receives £200,000 Arts Council funding – North Yorkshire County Council. Libraries Improvement Fund: “The ground floor will be reconfigured to create a safe place for families and a bright, attractive space for children to allow a wide range of activities and events to take place with quieter areas for relaxation, study as well as space to meet up with friends. There will also be upgrades to its well-used private meeting rooms.”
  • Nottingham – Books and other items at discount prices – Nottingham City Libraries. “As we make the transition to the new Central Library site, it is time to remove some of our older stock to make space for newer items. As such we are having a book sale, offering lots of items at discount prices.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Letter: No need for any scaremongering in debate over future of town library – Hucknall Despatch. Councillor accuses another of scaremongering and says no library will close.
    • New community hubs with libraries planned in Burton Joyce and Woodthorpe – Gedling Eye. Libraries Improvement Fund: “New community hubs with vibrant libraries at their centre are to be created in Burton Joyce and Woodthorpe.” Nottinghamshire County Council has partnered with Inspire to create the hubs after being awarded a grant of £170,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England. The villages’ current libraries spaces will be reimagined and re-configured to create more flexible library and community spaces.”
  • Oldham – Oldham Libraries help residents bridge the digital divide – Oldham Council. “residents can get eight hours of free support to help them become more digital savvy.”
  • Oxfordshire – Grove Library celebrates turning 50 with nostalgic trip to 1972 – Herald Series. “On March 14, Grove Library will be marking 50 years by going back to 1972 with a nostalgic display of 70s memorabilia, including some of the bestselling books of 1972, fashion, pictures and film. Staff, volunteers and councillors will be marking the occasion with a small birthday celebration – including cake – at 2pm.”
  • Portsmouth – Free Covid tests set to continue for Portsmouth residents – BBC. “Collection points are expected be set up at libraries and community centres and would be monitored through an online database.”
  • Sandwell – Sandwell libraries to extend opening hours thanks to new technology following funding boost – Express and Star. Libraries Improvement Fund: “On Monday Thimblemill Library in Smethwick launches the pilot of Library+ technology – a new way for libraries to maintain and extend opening hours.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries to be reviewed to ‘maximise potential’ – Shropshire Star. “In a statement the council said all locations would be “reviewed to maximise their potential”. It said they will also consider opportunities for co-location, where they could share space within other community services. Changes as part of the plans include the introduction of “self-service kiosks”.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire libraries to celebrate Shakespeare Week – In Your Area. “The theme for this year’s celebration is movement and dance, using sport, dance and leisure in Shakespeare’s time. “
  • Stoke on TrentStill time to take part in Stoke-on-Trent Libraries Consultation – Stoke Council. “The strategy showcases how library services in the city are transforming to ensure they meet the needs of local communities – whilst building on the existing offer for members with a particular emphasis on digital services.”
  • Torbay – Local author convention lands at Paignton Library – Torbay Weekly. “Paignton Library is hosting their first Local Author Convention to promote and support books written by authors from Torbay and Devon. “
  • West Sussex – Poster campaign: 21 reasons why Worthing should have a public library – Sussex Express. “A poster detailing 21 reasons why Worthing should have a public library, dating back to an 1892 campaign, seems almost as relevant today as it did 130 years ago.”
  • Wirral – Funding means technology boost for Birkenhead Central Library – Wirral Globe. Libraries Improvement Fund: “A programme of works will reconfigure and refit the current IT suite based at the library into a modern flexible digital hub, investing in internal upgrading and digital infrastructure to substantially improve the service’s offer, whilst providing a multi-purpose community space to learn, connect and work.”. Wifi to be improved.

The Libraries Slight Improvement Fund

Editorial

The winners of Libraries Improvement Fund grants have been announced, with 25 services sharing £5 million. The largest grant is £495k (Sandwell) and the smallest is £62k (Reading). Before we get too excited by this government largesse, it’s worth remembering the £5 million fund is less than a third that given to museums at the same time, a sector with fewer visitors and buildings. To put it into more perspective. one private subscription library, Leeds, announced extra funding more than twice that of the largest LIF receiver in the same week. And just one building, a new combined library/museum in Wakefield, will cost more than three times than the entire national award. So, it’s a nice thing, it’s good one could apply for building improvements, and well done to the library services involved but the scale fo the funding is just plain woefully inadequate given the challenges to the sector, which is often most obvious in its buildings. So, I hope the sector becomes like Oliver, and asks for more. Substantially more. And if we get it, well, that would be a Twist indeed.

In other news, Blackpool has continued being fines-free for another year, reporting that it has seen no increase in the amount of unreturned or late items. I understand Libraries Connected is researching the fines-free model as well and seeing how/if other services can go down that route. It seems that the whole pro-fines argument has shifted in the last ten years from “Fines are needed as otherwise we will lose stuff” to “We’d like to get rid of fines but we need the income from them” as the main reason why many library services have not gone down that route. The strength of that argument (and the weakness in library budgets it shows) will be tested in many more services soon, as the number of services going fines-free continues to grow.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • £48 million to safeguard nation’s critical cultural heritage – Gov.uk. £5 million for libraries: “The Libraries Improvement Fund is helping to transform library services in England by helping them upgrade their buildings and digital infrastructure so they can respond to the changing ways people use them. Twenty-five library services are being supported in this round of funding, including Sandwell Library and Information Service in the West Midlands (£495,000) and Sheffield Libraries (£340,000).”
    • Over £6m in new funding granted to Yorkshire museums and libraries – here’s where – Yorkshire Post. “Almost £150,000 will support Barnsley Council to redevelop Dodworth Library to allow more flexible use of the space and improve access for users.” … “Sheffield will also receive £340,000 to pay for library upgrade work, with Leeds receiving £267,000 and Bradford and Scarborough £200,000 each.”
    • Cultural Investment Fund: Data – Arts Council England. “This includes £24 million through round two of the Cultural Development Fund to help regenerate communities through improved growth and productivity. The Museums Estate and Development Fund is awarding £18 million to help museums improve their infrastructure and carry out urgent maintenance works. We’re also investing £5 million in 25 library services to upgrade their buildings and technology, through the Libraries Improvement Fund.”

Table from Cultural Investment Fund: Data | Arts Council England

International news

Local news by authority

Ukrainian librarians, CIPFA “unfit for purpose” and the Wirral

Editorial

The big global news is of course the Ukraine and I am sure all of our best wishes go out to those affected by Putin’s aggression there. If any of you are on Putin’s side, it may be worthwhile re-evaluating your information gathering skills. Massive respect to the Ukrainian librarians who are doing their best under the most difficult of circumstances and, particularly, to the conference organisers who promised they’ll get it running after they’ve vanquished their invaders.

Less important globally but still fairly stunning was the announcement by Libraries Connected that they no longer consider CIPFA fit for purpose. It’s one thing when everyone says it privately or it’s in the editorial of a blog but for the national public library body to come out in the open and say you’re rubbish … well, that’s humiliatingly bad. One hopes that things will now change. Worst case is the lame duck keeps on producing highly expensive, outdated and increasingly irrelevant reports because the minister does not care enough to change the process. Or that libraries fail to come up with a viable alternative. Now that would be humiliating. But not for CIPFA.

Finally, it’s so sad to see Wirral once again in the news about service cuts. They’re the ones that were most connected with cuts to libraries before austerity, with the 2009 report by Sue Charteris into proposed closures leading to the authority withdrawing their plans. Those were different times and its probable there’s no Sue Charteris on the horizon this time, sadly.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Accessible book giveaways and sustainability to feature at World Book Day celebrations – BookSeller.
  • Diversity Beyond the Bookshelf – Engaging library and school communities – National Literacy Trust. Webinar, 4pm, 25 May. “Look at the wider role of schools and libraries in supporting diversity outside of their collections through community empowerment. Explore a range of community engagement case studies. Provide opportunity for your to share your own ideas and experiences with the group.”
  • Libraries make big noise to entice children back – Times. Partial paywall. “Libraries Aloud is designed to encourage families to head to the library and have fun reading out loud. From today there will be a series of free interactive “read-out-loud-alongs” across the country.” see also ‘Libraries Aloud’: Beano campaign encourages children to read more on World Book Day – Glasgow Times, not behind paywall.
  • Libraries of Sanctuary – CILIPS. Webinar, 11-12, 11 March. “Join CILIPS for this unique Online Learning event on 11th March, 11-12, during which we’ll learn more about Libraries of Sanctuary, the vital value of the contribution they make, and how your own library service can get involved in becoming a Library of Sanctuary. We’re delighted to be joined by Ashley Beckett and Gün Orgun from City of Sanctuary, John Vincent, coordinator of The Network and author of Facet‘s upcoming book Libraries and Sanctuary: supporting refugees and other new arrivals, and Dylan Fotoohi, a founding member of Refugees 4 Justice in Glasgow.”
  • One in 4 children has never been to public library – Daily Express. “A survey by children’s comic Beano found 26 per cent had yet to visit – despite four in five parents (84 per cent) wanting their youngsters to go more often.” … “While three-quarters have not visited in over a year, more than half of children (55 per cent) were put off because they mistakenly believe they have to be quiet.”

We recognise the vital part that books, reading and public libraries play in the lives of so many people, and the pleasure they bring to people of all ages.

DCMS is supporting World Book Day through organisations that are in receipt of public funds provided by the department. Arts Council England provided funding of £94,360 to World Book Day in January 2021, to deliver a multi-year project – ‘Growing reading for pleasure for children & young people 2021-2022’. The project finishes in August 2022 and includes support for this year’s World Book Day event on 3 March.

In addition, Libraries Connected (the sector support organisation for libraries) has been encouraging public libraries to take part in the celebrations, to order publicity materials and to sign up and promote the £1 books. Libraries Connected is also highlighting World Book Day through its social media channels, website and other publicity, as will DCMS.

Nigel Huddleston, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Reading group needs help after Repair Shop man’s documentary – BBC. “Read Easy, which gives free one-to-one coaching, said more people had been coming forward for help following a recent BBC documentary featuring Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades.”
  • Statement of solidarity with librarians, archivists and information professionals in Ukraine – CILIP. “The library, archive and information professional community in the UK will work with our colleagues around the world to offer whatever support and solidarity we can to our professional colleagues in Ukraine.”
  • Why CIPFA libraries data is no longer fit for purpose – Libraries Connected. “The CIPFA library data released in February tells us more about the data systems and structures for libraries than libraries themselves. … the CIPFA libraries report is no longer fit for purpose because it is: Too late. The figures for year one of the pandemic came out at the end of year two; Disconnected from the sector … CIPFA collect annual figures and publish them around nine months later (or 11 months in this case). The financial figures are essentially the same as those we presented 15 months ago with a larger sample. This doesn’t help libraries.”

International news

  • Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s libraries are shutting down – Elliot Lake Today. “The Taliban takeover last August hit Afghanistan’s reading culture and book industry especially hard. Libraries such as Khushal Baba Ketabtun, with its highly fertile and engaging environment, went quiet. The number of book stores is rapidly shrinking, and publishers and printing houses are in a deep economic crisis, with some already closed.”
  • Ukraine – Address of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Library Association to the Library Community of Ukraine dated February 23, 2022 – ULA. “Libraries are a strategic weapon of the state in the hybrid war waged by the Russian Federation for many years. The relevance of libraries in overcoming the challenges facing people, the community and society in Ukraine has become apparent during the last eight years of Russian aggression. Today, when we face the threat of an open war with Russia, you and I, Librarians, are aware of our importance and our responsibility”
    • Lost for words: protecting libraries and archives in Ukraine – Nick Poole – Scotsman. “I know from my exchanges with colleagues in Ukraine that other than the threat to themselves and their families, they fear one thing above all – that Putin’s real agenda isn’t occupation or some historical re-connection, but erasure. The erasure of the Ukrainian people, their culture, their literature and language. Erasure of the idea of Ukraine as a free and democratic sovereign nation.”

Local news by authority

  • Carmarthenshire – Carmarthenshire’s first automated library opens – South Wales Guardian. Newcastle Emlyn: “The library, which is located within the Foyer of the Cawdor Hall Building, is the first of its kind in the county to offer its members state of the art interactive technology at the scan of a library card.”
  • Derbyshire – More than a dozen Derbyshire libraries at risk of closure – Derby Telegraph. ““Closures on a significant scale could help realise some of the required savings, however, it would enable the service to directly align its available resources with existing levels of use and need. “It could result in a patchy and uneven distribution of libraries across Derbyshire.” … “The council asked groups to come forward, but so far only one library – in Woodville, South Derbyshire – has been passed over and only five more have retained expressions of interest and/or business cases.” … “This leaves 14 libraries in limbo.”
  • Hackney – Hackney schools have their say on the future of the borough’s Libraries – Hackney Council. “The winning entries from a borough-wide schools competition to reimagine and design Hackney Libraries for 2025 are now on display in libraries across the borough. In October, Hackney schools were invited to create a poem or artwork to share their ideas on what Hackney’s Libraries could look like in the future.  As part of Hackney Council’s wider Library services review, the aim of the competition was to offer local schools – their teachers and pupils –  an opportunity to have their say on how Hackney’s Libraries can be improved, and help inform Hackney’s Library services strategy for 2022.”
  • Hampshire – Winchester Discovery Centre closes for seven weeks – Hampshire Chronicle. “major refurbishment of a Winchester hub is underway and from today (January 1) it will fully close for seven weeks. Winchester Discovery Centre will benefit from a £715,000 investment with2011 upgraded library facilities and improved gallery spaces, alongside enhancements to the café, toilets and lift. This follows a decision to develop a new cultural hub at the Discovery Centre through the creation of a partnership between Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Cultural Trust.”
  • Hartlepool – Hartlepool libraries get a revamp as new high-tech system is installed – Hartlepool Mail. First new system for 20 years, ” features a website where people can search for titles and reserve a copy for collection.”
  • Herefordshire – New Hereford museum and library ever closer to reality – Gloucestershire Live. “The council is sold on Maylord Orchards as the library’s location, having spent some £4.5 million on purchasing the leasehold interest and a section of additional freehold, having retained the freehold of much of the four-acre site since it was developed in the late 1980s. Acquiring the site allowed the council to take full control and decide the future for the precinct.” … “The feasibility report for the £3 million library move says making the new museum happen hinges on Maylord Orchards.”
  • Highland – Celebrate World Book Day with a visit to your local library – John O’Groats Journal.
  • Kirklees – Writing a new chapter on inclusion this World Book Day – Kirklees Together. “Kirklees Libraries are running a library card competition for World Book Day. Young people aged 11 years old or younger from across Kirklees are encouraged to draw a main character from a list of selected books. The winner will have their design used on library cards across Kirklees.”
  • Leicester – Jobseeking help in libraries extended – Leicester Council. “Leicester Jobcentre Plus and Leicester City Council are working in partnership to place specialist work coaches in seven city libraries, with the launch of a work coach in Braunstone’s Brite Centre from 25 February. Work coaches offer help finding jobs, training and support for people who might be facing multiple barriers to employment.  “