New culture secretary Nadine Dorries has declared herself a champion of public libraries. “If I have one mission as culture secretary, it’s to open doors for those who need it the most. Libraries are the front line for that effort and I’ll press councils hard to invest in libraries because of the enormous value they provide,” she told the Daily Express on Saturday (9th October).
She added: “I want to thank libraries up and down the country for all they do – something the Daily Express has done a great job of highlighting through its campaign. They are a lifeline to millions of people – particularly during Covid.”
The Library Campaign heartily welcomes these words. Now we await some action. “Pressing councils hard to invest in libraries” has to be seen in the context of 11 years of austerity cuts to council budgets that have seen around 800 libraries closed, or dumped on to volunteers to run. There’s a lot of ground to make up.
For instance… the Tory conference has ended with no clear proposals on “levelling up” – a key plank of government policy, but one that remains shrouded in mist.
The Library Campaign has a word of advice for the government – LIBRARIES ARE KEY TO GENUINE LEVELLING UP.
AND LIBRARIES ARE ALREADY DOING IT – supplying vital literacy skills and IT skills, vast information resources, education for all ages, quiet study and work space, business information and advice.

Libraries are right there already in every community – accessible to all, free to use and uniquely trusted.

Evidence is mounting that “social infrastructure” like this is far more effective in levelling up than multi-billion building projects. And far, far cheaper.

“So much of the policy debate around levelling up in the UK has focused on headline-grabbing projects like HS2, the extension of 4G and 5G networks and upgrades to major roads. “However… their efficacy depends to an important – and often unheralded – degree upon the capacities, health and productivity of the communities and citizens they are designed to connect,” says Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy. For more on this, see page 21 of our latest magazine.

If Nadine Dorries can join up the dots, she will get our support.

The Library Campaign is joining Libraries Week in style, with the launch of our new Instagram  presence and we’re hitting the national press with a topical message for Boris Johnson: if you want real levelling up, libraries can deliver far more than multi-billion projects like HS2. And far more cheaply!
Meanwhile, Friends of Sandal Library in Wakefield are supporting the Week where it counts – locally. They are using Libraries Week artwork to boost their message about activities at the library. On Tuesday they are inviting local councillors for tea and (of course!) cake at their gardening club.
If your Friends group is active on social media, Libraries Week is a chance to amplify your messages and photos. Tag your posts with #LibrariesWeek or @librariesweek. If you have a good story to tell about the difference your library makes, make it national news by contributing it to the #ShareTheChange campaign. Find out more at http://librariesweek.org.uk/share-the-change.
There’s plenty more for all to to enjoy via the Libraries Week website (http://librariesweek.org.uk).
They include (Monday 4th, 7pm) a special book event with author Femi Fadugba, talking about his new book The Upper World, a game-changing young adult thriller that defies space and time, in which the library
has a part to play…
On Wednesday, The Reading Agency launches new free, online reading for pleasure game for children, The Reading Adventure.
Each day, organisers CILIP will crowdsource contributions to its #Changing Lives Reading List with books to educate and inspire on a range of topics from anti-racism, LGBTQ+ and disability to mental health, well-being and climate change. Share your book finds and suggestions!
To join in these and many more activities, there’s only one place to go – http://librariesweek.org.uk
And follow The Library Campaign on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER

When a plan for mass closures shocked the whole county in 2019, people quickly came together to fight it.
Within days SOLE – Save Our Libraries Essex – was formed. A major point was that ALL Essex libraries must be saved. There was to be no playing one library against another.
SOLE has run a fantastic campaign, with celebrity endorsements, social media, demonstrations and marches (including one marathon relay visiting all 74 libraries!). Lockdown didn’t stop them.
Taken aback, the council changed tack and promised to keep all libraries open for at least five years… but wanted as many communities as possible to take over running them.
Some campaigns give in at this stage from sheer exhaustion. Not SOLE! So-called “community libraries” are no alternative to the real thing. So SOLE has carried right on.
The council has declined to meet SOLE in a proper public meeting. Now it is mulling a new “strategy”- details unknown. But it starts with two online consultation sessions – no use to the many who are not online, and at times when most online users will be at work or school! So SOLE has got in first, collecting views outside Loughton library and writing its own 10-point plan for libraries. One that makes sense…

SOLE’s 10 points are:-
1. A long term commitment to keep all existing branch libraries open.
2. Commit to every library staying staffed and being maintained directly by Essex County Council.
3. Increase our paid, trained, library staff – libraries must not depend on volunteers.
4. Listen to library users – let’s see real, open consultation on a library strategy.
5. Improve the stock in every local library – let’s reverse the loss of 500,000 books.
6. Restore and extend opening hours including Sunday opening where there is proven demand.
7. Introduce a fines amnesty to build library use back.
8. Protect our existing public library space – don’t sacrifice it to other users and profit.
9. Develop, extend, and promote appropriate activities and services supporting education and culture for all, in our libraries.
10. Publish a local development plan for every library and invest in our library buildings and infrastructure – it’s our future.

To read the full story of SOLE (so far!) in TLC’s magazine no 97 pp
9-10 and no 98 pp 8-12.

The Bookseller, the Bible of the book trade, has published a whole issue focused on libraries – for the first time ever. It includes, of course, a piece by us at TLC.
The online edition is free to read, for ONE WEEK ONLY, starting on Friday September 3rd.
It’s quite a tribute to the goodwill that libraries have garnered during lockdown – and, of course, libraries’ continuing importance to the book world. They create readers from infancy, and encourage a lifelong exploration of books.
A major theme in this special issue is that publishers of e-books rarely grasp this simple idea. Libraries get the blame for a less-than-ideal e-book offer – but it’s publishers’ prices and restrictions that are the real problem.
Plenty more interesting stuff in this limited special issue. Meanwhile TLC’s Campaigner remains Britain’s ONLY public libraries magazine – free all year round on our website, with a print edition for TLC members.

The Story They Tell, set up by graphic designer and library assistant Helen Anderson, tackles two issues in particular – that of library advocacy projects typically running for set periods of time only and the fact that public libraries can mean anything to anyone. It is challenging to convey this quality, yet it is not something to shy away from and as The Story They Tell is a crowdsourced library, it means that it is open to anyone to participate which will hopefully help navigate the multiplicity of roles public libraries have, as a variety of perspectives would be represented. Hopefully, this will go some way to help update perceptions about public libraries and perhaps bridge discrepancies in terms of time & resources at different libraries.

The home page contains the information about the project, the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ as it were. 

Then there is the ‘Explore the Gallery’ page – here people can explore the different visuals, clicking on for more information (or a story) and they can share and download the posters if they would like. Maybe people working in libraries will want to use the posters, maybe people protesting, maybe book lovers or perhaps people will just visit for inspiration.  

Next there is ‘Find your library’ using one of the great projects from Libraries Hacked. Helen was conscious that if the site is trying to get people enthused about using public libraries, then it would be good to be able to direct them to their library. [The Library Campaign will be incorporating Libraries Hacked material on this site shortly.]

The final part is the ‘submit your design’. Here people may be moved to participate in the project and submit their own posters/visuals to the website. It could be something specifically made for this project, it could be something that people have made previously. It could be posters from libraries showcasing their offerings, posters made for protests… Nothing is ruled out and one of the suggestions is that people can use the template on that page to write something about public libraries and that can be posted. 

Many Friends groups create excellent work which deserves to be seen widely. Others need ready-made material. The site includes Helen’s posters, based on her research into the things people value about libraries. Help yourself – or add your own creations.


OUT NOW: latest issue of TLC’s Campaigner magazine, the only UK magazine focused on public libraries.
READ IT HERE: https://librarycampaign.com/magazines
TLC MEMBERS exclusively get the print version, delivered to their door – you could too if you become a member. Join here.
IN THIS ISSUE:
– news, including what TLC has been doing
– goodies coming up in September & October
– major libraries project starting soon for disadvantaged kids
– guide to summer reading events for families
– authors of two new books inspired by libraries tell their own stories
– the truth about “levelling up” (it involves libraries)
– nationwide libraries project that eased loneliness during lockdown
– ideas for making libraries a place for kindness
– a feast for crime fans
– why “digital access” in libraries needs serious support.

Filming now are two star-studded book adaptations with a strong literary presence. Make sure you read the books before you see them!

Music icon Harry Styles is joined by Emma Corrin (Diana in The Crown) in My Policeman, based on the 2012 book by Bethan Rogers. The production is for Amazon Prime.

It is billed as ‘an exquisitely told tragic tale of thwarted love’. And it has a fascinating literary background.

In 1950s Brighton, Marion and Patrick both love Tom. Tom, their policeman, is gay – and it is safer for him to marry Marion. The two lovers must share him until… 

The story opens in the late 1990s. Patrick has had a stroke, and has moved in with Tom and Marion. Gina McKee, Linus Roache and Rupert Everett have been cast as older versions of the three.

The plot mirrors the real-life relationship between writer EM Forster and a married policeman. Like Marion, the policeman’s wife May also cared for Forster when he moved in after his final stroke in 1970. 

Meanwhile London is the setting for an ITV four-parter based on Our House by Louise CandlishThis literary thriller won Book of the Year in the Crime and Thriller category at the British Book Awards2019.

It also has an impressive cast including Martin Compston, Tuppence Middleton, Rupert Penry-Jones and Weruche Opia (a BAFTA nominee for her role in TV sensation I May Destroy You).

The story starts when Fiona arrives home one day to find strangers moving into her house, and all her possessions gone. More flashbacks to the past, as she ‘gradually unravels unexpected secrets and shocking revelations, culminating in a nail-biting finale,’ ITV promises.

Not many of us really know, for obvious reasons. But we all hope that libraries will be open, and will be working hard to encourage people back through their doors.
That’s where Friends groups could really help.
Here’s one idea. TLC is calling on Friends to back National Libraries Week, October 4-10. The week is a regular October fixture, cunningly timed for the period when councils are starting to think hard about
their next year’s budget…
This year’s theme is “Taking action, changing lives”, to emphasise libraries’ role in running activities and getting people together. A good message post-lockdown.
The Libraries Week website is full of useful advice, plus graphics for social media and four different posters – some of which have space to fill in your own messages and give them a national gloss. Some members have told us they would welcome the chance to show their activities have national relevance.
Nearer the time there will be a national publicity campaign by the organisers, the librarians’ association CILIP.
This year, for the first time, TLC will also run a national campaign with press releases and social media. The exact content will be topical, so the details are yet to be worked out. But we’ll certainly be saying that libraries need Friends…
So it’s not too soon to start thinking what local groups might do at local level. And to send us your ideas about what we can do for you (email thelibrarycampaign@gmail.com).
We know one group that is planning an event for local councillors and the council’s decision-makers. Great idea! Another group will use the posters to highlight its regular monthly author talk.
What could your group do? And how can we help get your news out to the national press? Let us know!

Crime books – from cosy to noir – are always a hit in public libraries. And the annual Dagger awards from the Crime Writers’ Association are a great way to find new authors. This year, lockdown has brought some rare good news. The awards gala evening will be online instead of being held at an exclusive event. That means YOU can attend – if you are quick enough. Tickets have just been made available – free, but in limited numbers. To book a place, visit: http://bit.ly/cwadaggers2021. The gala will be on 1 July, from 7.30pm.
Awards are made in categories to suit all tastes – including historical, non-fiction, short stories and crime in translation. Our favourite, of course, in the Dagger in the Library. This is chosen by librarians. It honours an author’s whole body of work, their support for libraries and the role of library users’ choices in developing the genre.
This year’s shortlisted authors are: C L Taylor, Peter May, Lisa Jewell, James Oswald, Denise Mina and LJ Ross.
The evening will be compered by book reviewer and writer Barry Forshaw, a leading expert on crime fiction. Guest speaker is Abir Mukherjee, bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series, set in Raj era India. Abir has won two Historical Daggers. Queen of crime Martina Cole will also feature, as the recipient of the 2021 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing.

PLUS…
You can feast on a wealth of blogs celebrating June’s Crime Reading Month at
https://crimereadingmonth.co.uk/blog

It was a good session – plenty of clever ideas from library Friends and users. We’ll be taking them forward.
We started with a presentation from Nick Poole, CEO of librarians’ association CILIP. Well worth a watch. The good news is that the library professionals are really getting their act together. They have initiatives we can use and support. And they are taking on board users’ suggestions. First on the list is working together to make a success of Libraries Week in October. Then graphic designer Helen Anderson gave a preview of her project to set up a poster/image bank for all to use – and contribute to. This would be a real time-saver for busy Friends groups. The inks she posted in the chat are here, here and here. Those are all links to her twitter account. She also flagged two site which had inspired her – https://www.postcardstoga.com and https://www.mateactnow.com.
There was lots of discussion. Plenty to get to work on. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

A big thank-you to members / representatives of Friends groups who made our first Zoom meeting on 14 April such a success. People attended from all over the country (as well as Japan and the USA).

Encouraged by that we held another Zoom meeting, on Monday 24 May. We focused on following up the ideas that came up in April for a campaign to publicise libraries. The meeting included a chance to discuss with Nick Poole, the Chief Executive of CILIP (the librarians’ professional body) what they are doing to advocate for libraries, and their plans for this year’s National Libraries Week (4 – 10 October). The recording of the session is here (on Youtube).


Just in time for the local elections on 6 May… a row has erupted over the fate of two libraries in Swindon.
A local library campaigner has decided to make the row an election issue. Author Sean Wilson has become a Labour candidate for Covingham & Dorcan ward – to fight library closures.
One library has already closed. A second is about to go the same way, according to Sean. And it all dates back to the council’s decision in 2017 to “outsource” most of its library service.
What happened? It’s a mystery story involving ‘seed money’, a charity trust, two parish councils, a Friends group and the council itself.
“Only by making many Freedom of Information requests and speaking to local stakeholders,” says Sean, “did I build up a picture of the true events.”
His investigation raises one clear question: just how sustainable are these outsourced services?
Read on…

* For an analysis of another Swindon community-run library, see TLC’s
magazine, issue no 87, pp 6-7.

THE LIBRARY CAMPAIGN AND FRIENDS OF LIBRARIES – HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER?

ZOOM MEETING WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL 2021 @ 19:30-21:00

Libraries need Friends, in good times and in bad.  Now more than ever.

But what do Friends need? Can local groups benefit by exchanging ideas and support?

The Library Campaign wants to find out. As a national organisation we could be a central contact to save groups from re-inventing the wheel, and spread encouragement and inspiration.

At The Library Campaign we are constantly impressed by the creativity, skills and sheer cleverness shown by Friends groups – whether they are supporting a relatively stable service or fighting cuts in full campaigning mode.

Activities – and campaigns – are very local affairs. They build on local resources, local tastes, local facts. But they also develop great ideas, arguments, insights, artwork, leaflets and posters, quotes, contacts… and much more.

The Library Campaign is holding a Zoom meeting to discuss how all could benefit by sharing some of these. We have our ideas. Now we’d like to hear yours!

Come to listen – Come to brainstorm – Come to share. There will be plenty of time for discussion. 

                                          SPEAKERS:

  • Laura Swaffield – Chair of The Library Campaign
  • Andrew Coburn – Treasurer of The Library Campaign
  • Elizabeth Ash – Save Croydon Libraries
  • Liz Miles – Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE)
  • Glyn Robbins – Save Our Libraries Tower Hamlets

Join Zoom Meeting 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87023578464?pwd=QlZ2ZWJCRjdZT1l5Q3R2b05nYVByZz09

Meeting ID: 870 2357 8464

Passcode: 982203

If you want to join by phone you can find your local number at https://us02web.zoom.us/u/keuGmqlDye

You don’t have to register but it will be helpful to know who plans to be there. Email us at thelibrarycampaign@gmail.com if you are intending to come.

The Library Campaign will join other campaigners at 3pm to discuss the threat to our libraries… with particular reference to the LGBT+ community. See the image above for booking details.

The Library Campaign is urging local councils to set their budgets – without sabotaging their best post-pandemic asset. Despite dire financial problems, there is one cut no council should make… a cut to its library service.

“As lockdown slowly eases, it is obvious that massive unmet needs will be revealed – some urgent, some complex.  Help must be accessible, at local level. And it must be expert help, by experienced staff,” says TLC chair Laura Swaffield. “Public libraries, in effect, provide a chain of local, trusted, multi-function drop-in centres. “Their cost is a tiny fraction of any council’s budget – less than 1%.”

The damage from cutting libraries would cost far more than any savings made. This cost would fall on other council departments, including education, public health, youth services and social services.  

HERE’S WHY…

▪ Libraries are uniquely trusted as a source of information. This trust has been built up over decades. Misinformation has flourished during lockdown. Some – such as anti-vaccination – has cost lives and still does. So there will clearly be a need for trusted information on essential issues such as Covid-19, health (including mental health), domestic violence, council services and benefits.

▪ Equally important for many will be IT access – with support needed from expert staff. Benefits claims and job searches/applications will be key.

▪ Also crucial will be support for children, from the very young (and their parents/carers) to schoolchildren trying to “catch up”. Books are a uniquely cheap source of escapism and entertainment. Reading for pleasure has been proved time and again to be the main predictor of progress in education – in all subjects, including maths. Libraries even have a special programme called the Summer Reading Challenge, which uses child-friendly gimmicks to get children reading. 


▪ For adults, libraries supply a large range of reference material – in particular, business support that is beyond the budget of any start-up or SME. They are also a core point of access to skills training of all kinds. At a time of mass upheavals in the jobs landscape, these will be much needed. ▪ Many aspects of daily life will be more devolved to local level. Those working from home will need local resources, and often local desk space. Library services have already seen increased use of local branches. This is not the time to sabotage them.

▪ Finally, local libraries will be vital in restoring the mental health of adults. Books, and the many other leisure resources such as DVDs, newspapers and magazines, must be freely available – especially to those who have suffered financially during lock-down and will continue to do so. 


▪ Group activities, which must be run by skilled practitioners, will be of more value than they have ever been. Isolation and loneliness, depression and anxiety, are not problems that will disappear spontaneously. Library-run groups cater for every age group, from young families to the elderly, teens and students to minority ethnic groups.

Local libraries offer a lot, at a very small price. They are a bargain for any council.
Councils simply cannot afford to lose them.

Saved – for now, anyway. That’s the great news from Tower Hamlets, east London, where a determined campaign led the council last week (4 March) to scrap its library cuts. There will be a “review” in 18 months. Planning to meet any future challenge starts now…

TLC talked to Glyn Robbins, one of the main organisers of the public campaign. All the local unions – Unison, Unite, GMB – backed the campaign. But public support is vital, Glyn says. A campaign can be dismissed by politicians as self-interested workers “just defending their jobs”. Showing that libraries are vital to communities makes that much harder. Also vital was a clear, simple and united message – just leave the libraries alone.

Here’s a tip: start early! Steady opposition began as soon as preliminary plans were aired last November. They included closing two (out of eight) libraries, running down two others, sacking 35 staff (one-fifth of the total) and reducing hours, to save £1m (from a budget of £4.4m). A further £600,000 was somehow to be saved through “online provision”.

By March, concessions had whittled down the projected saving to just £365,000. And it was obvious that the damage to services – and the council’s reputation – wasn’t worth such a small sum.

The campaign proper began in January. An online open-to-all meeting attracted 200 people. The speakers included Glyn plus long-time campaigners (and TLC allies) Alan Gibbons and Alan Wylie. 

Then everyone piled in.

* The pandemic was a constant theme. “You shouldn’t close libraries ever, but certainly not now!”

* Children, with help from the scouts, made a powerful video about their need for libraries.

* An online petition collected 2,300 signatures (Glyn says signatures from outside the borough were valuable, telling the council that “other people are watching you”.) 

* Social media spread this and other messages. Seeing all the likes and re-tweets were really encouraging, says Glyn – “you can’t run a campaign these days without social media”. Among the celebs who signalled their support were Alex Wheatle, Malorie Blackman, Michael Rosen, Stella Duffy, Patrick Gale, Kate Hudson and Vaseem Khan.

* The local paper covered the story, of course. 

* Local author Kate Thompson got an article into the Guardian. Fortuitously, she is just now publishing a book on how the local library (evacuated underground) helped East Enders survive the blitz…

* Another local author, Jackie Lees, printed and distributed (with help!) 2,500 leaflets about her own local library, Cubitt Town, where she researched her book on Bob Dylan.

* A powerful letter was sent to the mayor by Michael Rosen and local authors Kate, Louise Raw and Sarah Wise, plus professors at Birkbeck College and local university Queen Mary’s. The names, says Glyn, were collected via personal contacts. It helps to have experienced local campaigners who have built up such contacts.

* A local MP, Apsana Begum, helped. Another did not…

* Apart from opposition councillors, a dozen from the ruling Labour party voiced their unease behind the scenes. An uncomfortable split developed…

It helps, says Glyn, that this area has “a strong political counter-culture” built on events such as scandals surrounding former mayor Lutfur Rahman and before that George Galloway’s Respect campaign.

“It was all fairly well planned and co-ordinated. All the pieces worked together,” says Glyn. “It created a momentum, pushed the council on to the defensive, wore them down. “They didn’t seem to understand the wellspring from which all these feelings came.”

Well, they do now.

Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse (London) is rightly
alarmed at the drastic library cuts planned for her patch in Tower
Hamlets.
She has set up an Early Day Motion on libraries – and it needs MPs’ signatures.
It’s here: https://bit.ly/3beWJHD
Has your MP signed?  If not – ask them why not!
The wording is:
That this House notes the ongoing concerns on the effect of austerity
on local library services and that the covid-19 pandemic has led to
new worries that financial pressures on local authorities could mean
further cuts and reductions to services;
– believes in the value of local libraries and that despite the growth
in digital technologies, there is still a clear need to physically
access books and a demand within communities for modern, safe,
non-judgemental, flexible library spaces for people of all ages,
supported by the help and knowledge of the library workforce;
– further notes that local libraries are particularly important for
the vulnerable in society who need support and guidance and for
children and young people who benefit from engagement with libraries
outside of the formal classroom environment;
– is concerned that the covid-19 pandemic has highlighted existing
educational inequalities and the digital divide, and that many do not
have access to devices or internet provision;
– and calls on the Government to ensure that libraries are reopened
when it is safe as part of a sustainable, long-term future for local
public libraries.

The Library Campaign has no involvement with this event but it looks interesting. The organisers say: “Our inaugural conference welcomes representatives from Libraries Friends groups from all over the country. The event provides a treasure trove of ideas for activities, fundraising and community elevation. We are delighted to welcome keynote speakers Lemn Sissay, poet and performer, and Ron Finley, guerilla gardener as well as Chanje Kunde who will be performing a specially commissioned piece to uplift us all.12 thought-provoking workshops, spaces to share practical suggestions and ask questions. A place to listen. A place to be heard. A place to be inspired. Join us and bring some oomph to your Friends group.Places are limited so we are keen to ensure places for participants from inner city libraries to this event. Please state Inner city beside your name on your reservation. Book https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/136324978681. For more information, please email bristolfriendsofstpaulslibrary@gmail.com

The Connections for All webinar takes place on Monday, 1st February (11am). It brings together a panel of leading experts to discuss the need to keep millions of the UK’s oldest and most vulnerable connected. Not only will they examine how to help more older people get online, the speakers will also consider how to keep those who cannot, or do not want to get online to stay connected.

“The National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) Connections for All webinar marks the launch of the first part of the NPC’s campaign to end digital poverty and exclusion, and promote digital inclusion for older people through training and access to free broadband, free online security, and to digital devices.”

The webinar will also look at how ‘digital poverty’ is isolating and endangering older people at a webinar for Dignity Action Day 2021.
To read the full press release, get the agenda and to register for the event, please go to the NPC website.

Given the closure of libraries at present (and increasing threats to them generally, the idea that many of their loyal users can simply go online is questionable at best. This seminar should be interesting in exploring that and other problems of digital exclusion.

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