After the beer and the bunting, there’s still a jubilee feast for book-lovers. The Reading Agency (TRA) has compiled a book list for each of the seven decades since 1952.
Each has a theme, with some emphasis on the Commonwealth (the Games start soon). Plus a list of much more general questions to discuss in relation to any book you (or your group) might choose to read.
Get it all here:
Starting on 14 June (7pm), TRA and Libraries Connected are hosting a series of author events, again with a Commonwealth theme. Of course, you can join in online.
Find out more and sign for more updates here:

Cost of living crisis? The government is coming up with increasingly exotic solutions – from right to buy to… er bringing back imperial measures.
So it’s just the right time to point out that what really helps people is commonsense, low-cost, well-established support systems such as – public libraries!
The library chiefs’ organisation, Libraries Connected, is not just relying on universal common sense. It has evidence. Its new report finds that already 44% of library leaders are seeing increased demand for services such as information on personal finance and budgeting, help reducing household bills and practical support accessing food and clothing.
Over a third (38%) have already introduced new services specifically to help people cope with the crisis. And over 80% expect to see more people using their libraries to keep warm next winter.
Download this very useful document.

National Crime Reading Month is off to a galloping start, with events all over the country at book festivals, bookshops and – of course – libraries.
And there’s three more weeks to go, with more in the pipeline… Check regularly at
This weekend – 10 to 12 June – there’s Alibis in the Archive:
something special at the beautiful Gladstone’s Library in North Wales.
And you can sit back and see the whole thing on Zoom.
Find out more at

Libraries are (of course) rallying round to help any Ukrainians who have managed to jump through all the Home office hoops and reach this country. And their hosts.
Libraries are (of course) the obvious first point of call for anyone who ever needs information, help and a friendly welcome.
So, well done Libraries Connected for producing a leaflet in Ukrainian that explains what public libraries offer. It’s fun to look at. There’s an English version as an essential back-up for most of us.
You can download both, free, to distribute at will, from

Come to think of it, plenty of people – not just “new arrivals”- don’t know about everything that libraries offer them. That includes regular library users.
A simple leaflet like this should be part of the stock-in-trade of every single library. For mass distribution…

Every June, the Crime Writers’ Association runs National Crime Reading Month (NCRM).
There’s plenty on offer – or how about organising your own crime event to profit from the national publicity?
You can sign up to a mailing list for organiser updates and news, and to download promotional tools including logos, posters and press release templates: For advice and ideas,
This year the CWA is collaborating with national reading charity The Reading Agency. Bestselling authors will work as regional ambassadors for NCRM. They include Steve Cavanagh, MW Craven, Elly Griffiths, Alis Hawkins, Anthony Horowitz, Vaseem Khan, Nadine Matheson, Louise Phillips, Ian
Rankin, LJ Ross, Robin Stevens and Sarah Ward. Events – including online, discussions, author visits to book clubs, and exhibitions are just some of the things being organised. Look for the #PickUpAPageTurner hashtag on social media.
Sam Blake says: “This is a fantastic project that I hope will demonstrate the full breadth of the crime genre and bring new readers to discover books and authors they haven’t read before. Crime isn’t
just police procedurals but includes Young Adult, mystery and thrillers, as well as books that have become celebrated films like Ian Fleming’s iconic Bond. We want everyone to #PickUpAPageTurner in June and try something new.”

The Library Campaign operates in England and Wales. But we cannot ignore what is going on in Ukraine. Kate Thompson, who was heavily involved in the defence of Tower  Hamlets libraries a couple of years ago, has written this blog about the role libraries are playing during the war in Ukraine.

Maybe you (or your library service) will be holding a fun event for World Book Night on 23 April. Find out more at
Meanwhile, anyone can join the launch event run by The Reading Agency. Held at the British Library with both an in person and online audience, it is hosted by Bobby Seagull, with special guests Dr Alex
George, Lemn Sissay, Ayisha Malik and Dreda Say Mitchell. They’ll be talking about the stories that have shaped their lives, and why they tell the stories they do.
Perfect both for enthusiastic readers, and for those starting their reading journey. Following the event, everyone is invited to join in the #ReadingHour:, spending 7-8pm dedicated to reading.

Find out more and get your tickets now:

10 million adults in the UK are digitally excluded.  Many found themselves cut off from essential services and social contact during the pandemic. Libraries helped in many ways…
There’s plenty more to do. Find out how one key agency –  the Good Things Foundation – is creating essential tools to support libraries in their vital digital inclusion work.
Helen Milner, Group CEO, will explain the Foundation’s National Databank and its Device Bank, which enables libraries to obtain free mobile connectivity library users who are experiencing data poverty.
Plus a whole new programme now being planned to help libraries develop powerful local partnerships to reach into communities.
Monday 4 April 12:30 – 13:30, online
Book your FREE place here

Billed as an ‘Opportunity Knocks webinar, this FREE webinar will look at some of the ‘levelling up’ concepts that might be good for libraries.
Thursday 24 March 13:00 – 14:00, online
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund has as its stated goal “to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK”. This ‘placed based approach’, with its focus on enriching the lives of those who face disadvantage, is core to the work of public libraries. It could be a huge opportunity for library services, and for local
authorities to put libraries at the heart of their bids. This webinar is a chance to understand the process, and how library services could be a core part of local investment plans.
• Helen Barnard, Pro-Bono Economics and Joseph Rowntree Foundation
• Andrew Laird, Mutual Ventures
• Library service lead talking about their experience
Book your place here.

Schools and libraries are gearing up for World Book Day on March 3. This is a worldwide celebration aimed specifically at children. (Grown-ups get their own event on April 23 – World Book Night).

Already there is a mass of interesting videos on And new live digital events are slated for the coming week on February 28, March 2 and March 3. Find them here:

The WBD website is bursting with ideas and downloadable goodies. So many that is is quite a job to track them down. For anyone thinking of doing anything with children, any age, anytime, a good introduction is

Here at TLC, we’d love to see Friends groups making more use of resources like this. Many can be used any time of the year, not just during the designated “Day” or “Week”. Many are particularly good on
activity packs, with ideas for games to play and things to do. Have a look.

For starters we recommend
British Science Week (March 11-20)
Shakespeare Week (March 21-27)

How do you turn a solid plank into a damp squib? For one answer, turn to the government’s White Paper on levelling up. This enticing concept, remember, was the major plank of the government’s offer to “left behind” communities that have turned Tory. Enticing, but mysterious…  

After long, long delays a White Paper has come out. The main message is there’s no new money. This hasn’t gone down well. Attached to this a thumping great 330+ page report analysing the nation’s many problems. This has been better received. But how can its big ambitions be turned into action?

Libraries should be part of the solution. It won’t be easy, though, to dig out useful ideas from the welter of recycled one-off funds and schemes now on offer. 

Luckily, you don’t have to read it all yourself. Libraries Connected invites you to a FREE webinar, 1-2pm, 24 February, where experts will wrestle with questions such as:

•                    How do the White Paper’s “missions” resonate with the work of libraries?

•                    Is levelling up only for the north or will it be a set of principles for all areas of the country?

•                    What funding and development opportunities will there be?

•                    How can libraries get in on the action including at the regional level?

The speakers are:

·         Professor Michael Kenny, Bennett Institute Cambridge

·         Philip Clifford, Senior Adviser at LGA (devolution, place-based growth and international policy)

·         Paul Clifford, Head of Economic Development, Barnsley Council

Book your place here

The annual BookTrust Storytime Prize has been awarded to The Whales on the Bus (see what they did there?) by Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt (Bloomsbury).
But this year’s award is different. The shortlist of six books was road-tested not by a judging panel but by families and librarians. All the libraries in England were given a set to read aloud. And 300 also
had a package of games and activities, tailor-made  for each book.
It’s all part of a major initiative to get young families into libraries. As a regular habit. And getting parents carers/confident about sharing books and stories.
BookTrust, the children’s reading charity, is re-framing its work to focus on “the families who need more help developing a reading habit”. Its own research shows that only 49% of families in poverty with children aged 0-5 are registered with a public library.
The Storytime programme will be expanded nationwide once the pilot is evaluated. Beth Southard, one of the team who piloted it in Norfolk libraries, said: “We’re really hoping we’ll increase our accessibility for some of the families that have been a bit harder to reach. We’re particularly interested in the idea of creating reading as a habit. “[The families] really enjoyed the content and the fact it’s a whole
package. It’s not just coming for stories and then going home. It feels like there’s a whole thing to unlock with it. That’s had people coming back each week.”
Local mother Savanah said: “We’ve really enjoyed BookTrust Storytime. It’s opened our eyes a little bit too. It doesn’t have to be a big, long, boring book. It can be short and sweet, but a lot of interaction
with colours and pictures and things. “It’s a really positive environment. The library team have been great. As we’ve got to know them, we come to a place where it’s really
comfortable and everyone is happy.”

FEBRUARY 4 is the deadline to nominate a ‘local service champion’ for UNISON’s promotion campaign.
We bet you know at least one in your library service…
UNISON says: ‘Local government has been an easy target for cuts, yet unlike the NHS people have been less likely to defend it.
‘People working in local services during the coronavirus pandemic have gone beyond the call of duty to keep the country going, yet their efforts have often been overlooked.
‘This isn’t right – UNISON aims to raise the profile of these unsung heroes and everything that they do.’
The campaign will end with a national ‘day of celebration’ in June.
Nomination form here:
Spread the message with: #Localservicechampions

Some libraries are expanding their work into a bold new initiative – encouraging people to talk about loss, dying, death, bereavement, and more. Of course, Friends groups have run events on this theme before. But now it’s part of a whole international movement – peaking this year in Dying Matters Awareness Week (Monday-Sunday, 2-6 May). The Week was founded in 2009 and is now run by Hospice UK. You may like to get involved, or encourage your library to do so, or just find out what’s going on.

Here’s how! Libraries Connected has invited us to a free webinar. Guest speakers from Hospice UK will introduce the 2022 campaign, its grants programme* and the plans for Dying Matters Week. The Week aims ‘to bring awareness to the issues many people face at the end of life, and how we, as a society, can make essential changes’.

There will be a Q & A and a chance to share ideas.

*The Dying Matters Community Grants Programme is open for applications.

Book your place here

We’ve always said that libraries have a unique role as safe public spaces that people trust.
The latest proof of this is pretty spectacular!
New research by IpsosMori rates all the professions you can easily think of, on one crucial factor – do people trust them to tell the truth?
And right at the top are – librarians. They are trusted by 93% of the population. (Well, nurses beat librarians by a single point, but we are happy to give way to them… together, these two even beat doctors in the trust stakes!)
It’s worth noting that ALL the professions line up at the top, from teachers to professors. While it’s no surprise these days to see politicians at the bottom at 19%, with only advertising executives scoring lower.
It’s a massive – and deserved – vote of confidence in our libraries.
And in the professional librarians that make them what they are.
To quote Isobel Hunter of Libraries Connected: “It’s the people who put the libraryness in the libraries.”


Challenging but so worthwhile – libraries have been exploring ways to help people deal with death. Libraries Connected (LC), the chief librarians’ group, is kindly inviting us to join a free webinar on “Finding connections through loss”. This was an Arts Council funded grief project in Devon.
The webinar will share the project’s experience so far, including engaging “community partners”, and work by artists with local communities.
There will be updates on LC’s work with Cruse Bereavement Care on a bereavement café toolkit and on the whole “Death Positive Libraries” project.

Watch it now on youtube:

On Wednesday 10th, we had a Zoom call on all the things you need to know about libraries.

Such as: What has the pandemic done to libraries? How does the digital future look? Do the new ministers talk sense? Is Rishi Sunak’s spending review any use? Where are the latest local trouble spots? What is The Library Campaign doing? And quite a lot more…

With special guest Ian Anstice of Public Libraries News, the unique website that keeps up with all the day-to-day news.

After Ian and Laura Swaffield (Chair of the Library Campaign) had spoken on all that, Andrew Coburn (Campaign Treasurer) gave a whistlestop tour of this website. and then there was time for questions and comments!

The recording of the meeting is now on our Youtube channel – here.

It will take time for the real consequences of Rishi Sunk’s 27 October spending review to emerge. But here’s TLC’s take, so far…

First all-round reaction was surprise and relief. Instead of yet another kick in the teeth, all departments got a modest real terms increase. For local councils, that’s 3% a year extra for the next three years.

This, says the LGA (Local Government Association) means they should be able to keep services at the 2019-20 level at least until 2022-23. That’s something – if you think everything (including adult social care) is fine as it is…

Hopes of getting extra money lie in a confusing welter of special funds. These come from every government department, and can help fund anything from high streets to child welfare, business to education, crime to transport, “decarbonisation” to arts, heritage to health… 

All these are awarded after competitive bidding. And public libraries are relevant to every one of them. But only if they have the time and resources and skills to make repeated bids for scores of different pots.

It’s a daft way to run things. It’s a huge waste of council resources. It sets locality against locality. And can it deliver coherent development? Will government departments liaise with each other when they decide who gets grants? 

And don’t forget that austerity has seen regular complaints that the governing party favours its own key constituencies. 

Apart from these scattered money pots, public libraries ought to benefit from “levelling up”. This is seen as so crucial that the local government department has been re-named the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

Nobody yet knows what it really means in practice. Until we see the promised White Paper, we won’t know where the money will go – to life-enhancing work with local people, or the big spectacular projects that politicians like so much? 

And we’ll still, it seems, be cursed with the bid-for-everything culture.

The LGA, at least, is starting to object. It says: “The competitive bidding process means that scarce council resources have been diverted at a time when local capacity continues to be stretched by multiple pressures? in local areas. 

“We would welcome further steps towards defragmenting all local funding arrangements to help maximise the strength of councils’ local leadership, which was demonstrated so strongly during the pandemic.”

Hear hear!

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
There’s plenty more for all to to enjoy via the Libraries Week website (
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 –
And follow The Library Campaign on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER

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