It’s not all that often that library users get asked what they think about anything, so TLC is happy to pass on this message from Stratchclyde University…

Downloading the new normal – public library focus groups:

We are conducting a series of focus groups to explore how the CoVID lockdown has affected public library usage and the consequences of the forced library closures on the lives of public library users in the UK.

This will help provide evidence to support the development of library services in the UK.

For this initial set of focus groups, we seek the involvement of adults, over the age of 18, who are regular users of a UK public library, who used digital library services during lockdown, and who can take part in a focus group using Zoom. Later focus groups will be face-face and seek the involvement of those who could not use digital library services and do not have access to Zoom. The focus groups will take place at the end of June and start of July 2021, will last no more than 90 minutes, and all participants will receive a £25 voucher for their participation.

If you would like to volunteer, please follow this link for further information and to sign up. This link will be valid until 28th June 2021.

Sign-up: Downloading the New Normal Focus Groups

For any questions about this study please contact Dr Elaine Robinson.

Our first Zoom meeting on 14 April was a success. People attended from all over the country. The feedback we’ve had chimes in with our own thoughts – people value the chance to see others and share ideas. Some good stuff came out of it – and many suggestions.

Among the points to emerge were:

·    All Friends groups are valuable, whether they are fighting cuts or supporting a service that isn’t in crisis.

·    Many groups produce useful material that could be shared.

·    The government (DCMS) has a legal duty to ensure good services … but doesn’t.

·    National library bodies seldom do things that library users see as high priority – such as… ·      Demonstrate that libraries are great value for money ·      Run a publicity campaign for public libraries, perhaps centred on social media.

If you want to see what you missed – or refresh your memory – watch the recording of the meeting.

And we will hold another Zoom meeting soon.

CILIP has issued a sharp call to the government to get its information act together.  It also has strong words about government attitudes to education, and to public libraries.

CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library &Information Professionals) concedes that Covid-19 has ‘no easy answers’.

But, it adds, ‘we believe that an effective public policy response must be driven first and foremost by the informed and non-partisan use of the best available evidence.

It wants government ‘and all political stakeholders to commit to the open and transparent use of data to drive key decisions, and to publish the basis of those decisions in a way that is independently-verifiable.

The latest lockdown rules, it fears, ‘are driven more by politics and public opinion than evidence or strategy… ‘The circumstances demand a collective effort on the part of the public, public authorities and the media to avoid spreading disinformation about the virus.

‘We urge the government to work with CILIP to bring forward a public programme of support for health, digital and information literacy, so that individual citizens can be empowered to make informed choices about their own welfare and the safety of those around them.

This ‘could deliver very significant benefits by enabling the public to make better and more effective use of health services’.

Face-to-face education has positive benefits ‘where this can be achieved safely’.  But it may be ‘inconsistent’ with limiting infections.

‘We would welcome clarification as to why, if the risk is considered too severe for staff in retail and other establishments, it is considered appropriate to retain staff in educational establishments, particularly when so much effort has gone into creating digital alternatives.’

CILIP welcomes lockdown rules that permit English public libraries to maintain key services – if it’s done safely.  This recognises libraries as ‘essential services’, especially for online access.

‘We believe it is vital that this recognition translates into real political buy-in and investment in the years ahead.

‘Libraries [could] have done even more had they not been systematically under-funded during the past 10 years.’

Perennial favourite The Secret Garden airs on Friday (23 October 2020) in cinemas and on Sky Cinema, starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters.

It is also, of course, a great read.

Interestingly, it started as a magazine serial.  And the book (1911) was first marketed as an adult title.  Now its enduring popularity owes much to its cross-generation appeal.

The story is perfect for these unhappy times.  Two (justly) grumpy kids find magic and a new friend in a hidden garden they find on a remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors…

You can download a full-colour guide that serves as a souvenir programme – and includes a quiz, ideas to spark discussions and craft projects.  All provided by librarians via Libraries Connected.

Southend Echo: 31 October
Library axed – and replaced with council vans in Southend

Darlington Times: 31 October
North Yorkshire | Library becomes hub for Great Ayton 

Hambleton Today: 31 October
North Yorkshire | Award for Great Ayton community library

Reading Chronicle: 31 October
Southcote Community Centre has been extended to provide modern services
Southcote Community Centre has been extended to provide services including a library, children’s centre and upgraded facilities

Northamptonshire Telegraph: 25 October
County Council’s chief executive gives libraries hope
‘Ms Grant said she is personally leading the libraries review and was hoping for a ‘positive outcome’.’

Redditch Standard: 25 October
Worcestershire | Battle begins to save Redditch library services as county makes cuts

Somerset Live: 25 October
15 communities have just a few weeks to save their library
The countdown to changes in Somerset’s library service has been laid out in ful

Somerset Live: 25 October
Reaction to Somerset County Council’s Shepton Mallet library announcement

Bridgwater Mercury: 25 October
Somerset | Friends of North Petherton Library hold first meeting to discuss plans

The Guardian: 23 October
Dear Damian Hinds, What’s so difficult about giving every child a library ticket? | Michael Rosen
Yet another report has shown children who read for pleasure are at an advantage. Yet many children still don’t have books…

Warrington Guardian: 23 October
Plans to boost libraries footfall – Stockton Heath site set for £170k work

Warrington Guardian: 23 October
LiveWire and Culture Warrington save council £17m in six years

Chronicle Live: 19 October
Newcastle | Meet the Fenham residents backing divisive plans for an addiction recovery hub at their library

Chronicle Live: 19 October
Opening of controversial addiction recovery hub at Newcastle library is DELAYED

The Scotsman: 19 October
Pamela Tulloch: 21st century libraries are more popular than football 

Wales Online: 19 October
Blaenau Gwent | Strike action planned as leisure trust staff ‘forced to use food banks’
Aneurin Leisure Trust runs leisure centres, parks and libraries across 18 venues.
In January negotiations began between UNISON, Unite, GMB and Aneurin Leisure Trust over a cost of living pay rise after claims staff have been struggling to “make ends meet”.
But the joint trade unions have since rejected a proposed pay offer of 1% for the period between October 2018 and April 2019, and are now calling on the trust to return to negotiations.

The Star: 19 October
Doubt over £1.3 million Sheffield library transformation after bar company pulls out

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