When a book review advocates for libraries

via The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain review – what the Bake Off winner did next | Books | The Guardian

The link may seem tenuous, but stick with me. This book review, for a novel by Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain,  is actually advocating for public libraries, and how they help shape lives and fullfill dreams. There’s an extract below, please click the link to read the full article.

Somewhere in your town, probably in a chilly corner of your library, if you are still lucky enough to have one, is a child. They are by themselves, bespectacled probably; not wearing the trendiest clothes. And they are reading and reading and filling their head with nothing else but books and words and new worlds. They have a dream; that one day books will be their life. It seems unlikely, but there it is. And it is wonderful.

*The description of the child as “bespectacled probably; not wearing the trendiest clothes” is an unhelpful stereotype at best, and in my opinion, the article would have been better without this sentence.

Library as Laboratory – How can Libraries exist in the future?

Leon's Library Blog

The following guest post has been received from Bedford Creative Arts. The post highlights how libraries and arts can collaborate successfully and provide a powerful and positive experience for users.

Library as Laboratory – How can Libraries exist in the future?


Bedford Creative Arts has been exploring new ways that libraries can evolve for the future by bringing together artists and libraries. The result is five pioneering projects created by eight artists, ranging from festivals and performances to slot car championships.

The project is funded by Arts Council England Libraries fund and sits in the context of the government spending review which has brought about cuts to spending on libraries by local councils. Libraries are now looking at what services and community offers they can provide in order to stay open and working with other local organisations like BCA is a way to deliver this.handbag-credit-andy-willsher

Library as Laboratory is a brand new…

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Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 to 2021

The Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport has today published a document written by the Libraries Taskforce, called Libraries Deliver: Ambition which sets out a vision for, and commitment to, public libraries in England. To access the document, please click here. I will be writing a blog post about the document when I have had time to read and digest it.

In the meantime, the press release from the government is given below, in full:

New strategy to help public library service prosper in the 21st century

‘Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021’ will help create a sustainable sector

  • £4m library fund to help disadvantaged communities and promote new projects including literacy, reading and digital access schemes
  • Strategy encourages new models of delivery for libraries
  • Ambition underlines Government commitment to the library sector
  • Councils urged to consider using libraries when delivering other public services

Local authorities are being urged to consider how they can best use libraries when delivering vital public services as part of a new vision to reinvigorate the sector, Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson announced today.

Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021 calls on local authorities to make use of the buildings, staff and services, and think innovatively to help increase reading, literacy and digital access in communities.

The report says library buildings should be used to provide access to a range of public services such as employment, health and learning opportunities to make sure libraries have a sustainable future.

The strategy, produced by the Libraries Taskforce, gives local authorities practical and innovative options to improve and develop services across the country, to help it thrive in the 21st century.

This includes a new £4 million ‘Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund’ that will deliver new initiatives for disadvantaged communities across the country.

The fund, to be managed by Arts Council England, will finance new projects such as literacy schemes, improving access to technology or increasing the number of children visiting libraries. The Government is encouraging libraries to work with partners on joint bids and show match-funding as part of the application.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society and responsible for libraries, said:

If we are going to build a country that works for everyone then we need to recognise that libraries are among our most valuable community assets and they remain hugely popular. More people went to a library in England last year than visited the cinema, Premier League football games and the top 10 UK tourist attractions combined.

But standing still is not an option if libraries are to thrive and work best for communities in the 21st century. Libraries can flourish and prosper but this will take change and new thinking about our service.

This strategy provides a blueprint for how libraries can be better utilised, to make them more resilient while still delivering vital public services to the communities that need them.

The Taskforce will also provide additional support and encourage public libraries in England that want to explore becoming public service mutuals. This will build on the experience of trailblazing library services in Suffolk, York, Devon, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

The Taskforce is also piloting new ways for libraries to generate income from government initiatives. From January 2017, it will explore how libraries can be used as part of the National Citizen Service programme to support the participation of young people.

The Taskforce, established in March 2015, reports to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Local Government Association.

Dr Paul Blantern, Chair of the Libraries Taskforce and Chief Executive of Northamptonshire County Council, said:

Libraries are vital community hubs – bringing people together, and giving them access to the services and support they need to help them live better. I’m delighted that our vision for public libraries in England is endorsed and supported by central government and by the Local Government Association on behalf of local government. We want this report to reform through action. We already have some of the best libraries in the world; if we learn from them and deliver the shared ambitions we set out, then we will have a vibrant, thriving and world-class public library network in England.

Brian Ashley, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England said:

Libraries are there for everyone, but their special role in helping people overcome disadvantage is second to none. They are the gateway to opportunity. So it’s great to have an additional £4m coming into the sector to fund new activities in libraries. I look forward to seeing a new wave of innovative projects making these opportunities real in their communities.

Notes to editors:

Libraries Deliver: Ambition for public libraries in England 2016-2021 can be found here

More information about the Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund and how to apply can be found here

Funding awards for the Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund will be announced by 31 March 2017. The programme will complete by March 2018.

There are 3,000 public libraries in England.

More information on the Libraries Taskforce can be found here

For many library visitors, I’m the only person they’ve talked to all day | The Guardian

via For many library visitors, I’m the only person they’ve talked to all day | Public Leaders Network | The Guardian

An excellent article from The Guardian, dated February 2016, outlining the vital role that librarians play in our communities. Click the link above for the full article.

…there are daily news reports of libraries closing, losing staff or being run by volunteers. Who will want to become a librarian now? It’s sad because in what other profession can you be a teacher, a care worker, an artist, a children’s entertainer, an IT expert, an HGV driver and a coder all in one day? I never meant to be a librarian, but even in difficult times, when I don’t know if I’ll have a job from one round of cuts to the next, I love it.

Amazon – how can you compete? | CILIP

Click the link for an interesting article from CILIP, questioning how can public libraries compete with Amazon:  Amazon – how can you compete?

Authors condemn plans to shut Hay-on-Wye library | The Bookseller

via Authors condemn plans to shut Hay-on-Wye library | The Bookseller

Powys County Council has revealed plans to close 11 out of the region’s 17 libraries in order to save £250,000 by 2019.

Novelist Robert Harris has argued that libraries have become an “easy target” for councils looking to make cuts and urged Powys council to reconsider its plans.

Click the link for the full story, from The Bookseller.

House of Lords attacks the government over library closures | via The Guardian

Click here for the full article, from The Guardian.

John Bird painted a grim picture of the UK with a reduced library service, warning the House of Lords on Thursday that cuts would result in “disorder, crime, problems for schools and the fact that children will not be able to get a job because they will not have the skills and abilities”.

Opening a debate on libraries, bookshops and booksellers, the Big Issue founder told the house that “we have lost more than 500 [libraries] since 2010”, and almost 9,000 librarians. Describing the UK’s public library service as essential, he called on the government to “supply some emergency relief money to stop local authorities doing this dastardly deed, this process of philistinising our communities”.

Prison libraries change lives

An ex-prisoner’s story of how the library inside his prison changed his life, via CILIP.

I had just finished university and was looking forward to my graduation and what felt like a promising future. Suddenly, following what I can only describe as a moment of madness, I found myself in prison, I was devastated.  On remand and locked up for 23 hours a day, not knowing what was going to happen, at my lowest point I didn’t see much of a future after prison.

However, the prison library gave him hope, “…it felt like an oasis away from prison life, where I felt like a person not a prisoner.”

Visit L J Flanders’ website here, for the full story behind his book, Cell Workout.


Banned Books Week: closing libraries is tantamount to censorship | CILIP

via Banned Books Week: closing libraries is tantamount to censorship | CILIP

Writer SF Said (author of Varjak Paw) discusses the importance of having qualified librarians in the UK’s public libraries.

 Libraries are central to democracy, to liberty, to freedom of thought and expression.  They are among the most important things that governments can provide.  Indeed, the public right for these services to be funded by government is enshrined in law, as CILIP’s #MyLibraryByRight campaign has pointed out.

Libraries over two generations

Libraries over two generations via Medium.com, written by Stephanie Boland.

“There’s something about libraries which transcends even a love of books. They’re about a sense of society and your community.”

View story at Medium.com