Tag Archives: community

Anti-multiculturalism gone mad or a rational policy shift?

1. What’s it all about?

Council removes foreign language papers from libaries (sic) to encourage English speaking

This article – with its ironic misspelling of ‘libraries’ – in the Daily Telegraph Education Section of 11th May was posted on Facebook by a German colleague: “Sir Robin Wales, elected Labour Mayor of the east London borough, said removing the papers would ‘encourage people to speak and learn English’”. What strange inverted logic justified such a decision?

There was no evidence that readers of community language ‘papers did not speak English, were not in fact multilingual, or that there is any resistance in Newham to learning English.

In one lone quote “Priyonath Singh, 76, of Newham, said: (in English) “It’s appalling. It’s a drastic measure. If you remove the newspapers, my mental age will be reduced completely.’” Reader comments under the DT article talked of foreigners, benefits, ex-pat Brits in Spain and so on; lots of ‘them and ‘us’. The Telegraph’s motivation was evident in a banner in the middle of the story,

Related Articles • Polish migrants top crime table 11 Apr 2011 • British courts regain power to deport terrorist suspects 27 Apr 2011

implying a “related”-ness between mother tongue speakers learning English and migrant criminals and terrorism; and in this an educational supplement!

There was nothing to acknowledge the information role of the public library or its legal responsibilities for a “comprehensive service” for “all who live, work or study” or “for all who may be desirous to make use thereof”.

Strange in an Olympic borough with a Labour Mayor, not far from Diane Abbott’s Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency,  and with redoubtable library leaders.

2. So what did Sir Robin do? How did he reach this decision?

I wrote to Sir Robin Wales. A helpful officer replied, referring to a Customer Services section, without mention of a library service or a librarian.

Of over 70 periodicals cut, only a minority are community language staples like the Daily Jang “Find Pakistan news in Urdu No.1 Urdu newspaper and largest Urdu daily” and Asian Voice, in English, UK and international politics and community affairs reflecting the interests of the UK Asian community.

Cut are African Caribbean lifestyle magazines like Ebony and Pride. There is an Irish focus – Irish Times, Irish Independent. Subject journals have gone like Investors Chronicle, Scientific American, British Medical Journal and Private Eye plus local interest ‘papers like the Hackney Gazette and the East London Advertiser. Users are now referred, “We have an online subscription to NewsUK”

The Council will also

  • introduce Learn English collections … online teach-yourself English language courses
  • investigate a ‘Language Lab,’ with ICT for self-learning and tutor-led English learning sessions in one or more Customer Service Centres
  • provide online ‘Life in Great Britain’ course and related stock to allow customers to practice for their citizenship test at the library or from home.

3. An Equalities Impact Assessment


This outlines Newham’s demography (paraphrased)

  • 70% of the population is from non-white ethnic groups
  • largest non-white group is Black African, 15.8%
  • Asian ethic groups – Indian (11.8%), Pakistani (10.8%) and Bangladeshi (10.7%) – one-third of the borough’s population.
  • ‘White’ population will not reflect the recent increase in Eastern European migration
  • Schools Census data indicates 73.9% of pupils (primary) and 65.6% (secondary) have a language other than English as their first language
  • top ten languages requested for interpretation and translation were (in order) Bengali (20.6%), Urdu (11.1%), Somali (6.5%), Tamil (5.9%), Polish (5.5%), Punjabi (5.0%), Portuguese (4.5%), Gujarat (4.5%), Lithuanian (3.1%) and Romanian (3.0%)
  • Analysis (2009/10) of library membership indicates that compared to Newham’s population some ethnic groups are over represented.

4. A shift in policy


In the 1970s/1980’s UK librarians struggled to introduce community language material into public libraries largely, for the first time. Libraries held European language material (leisure, travel, academic interests) but provision of Indic and South Asian language material met with resistance with “them and us” debates and the view that “they’ll integrate and learn English”. Migration seemed like a finite movement rather than the continuation of a global phenomenon. Read about public library evolution since that time in two recent publications, Public Libraries and Social Justice or Libraries and Social change .

Latterly, public librarians have yearned for an acknowledged position in the mainstream of social and economic policy. Even as a culture provider they have sought to connect reading, literature, music and the wider arts with literacy, learning, skills, employability confidence, quality of life, health and wellbeing, family and community cohesion, and economic growth.

5. In Newham …

The briefest glance at Newham’s website tells you the libraries provide most of what other authorities provide.

Yet this decision tells another story – a belief that public library services

  • can be part of the mainstream of public services
  • can deliver on learning and skills
  • do have a socio-economic role to play
  • do make an instrumental contribution

There is a significant backdrop of generational change. Older members of ethnic communities hanker for the daily news from their home country or village. Some meet at the library – in Newham, Birmingham, Manchester – to read and share news from places where they grew up. Now the wider community and its governors need something more purposive the library can deliver on – learning, skills, work.


Multiculturalism in Newham may be here, going or gone. Even so delivering to local black and minority ethnic communities a replica of their written and spoken culture need no longer be a public library priority; here the library draws people to a mainstream economic purpose in a library that’s a policy vehicle and political resource.

John Dolan OBE 30 June 2011


[1] Public Libraries and Social Justice, Pateman, John and Vincent, John. Ashgate 2010

[1] Libraries and Society: Role, responsibility and future in an age of change, Baker, David and Evans, Wendy, editors. Chandos Publishing 2011

Edit: 02/09/2011

Since the publication of this piece, a petition voicing concerns about the London Borough of Newham Council’s actions has been set up. The full text appears below.

We the undersigned wish to voice our concern about and objection to the decision taken by the London Borough of Newham to remove community-language newspapers from the borough’s libraries. 

This new policy has been introduced under the guise of reducing barriers to learning English that mother-tongue newspapers and books are supposedly responsible for creating and maintaining.

We call upon Newham council to:

1. Reinstate community-language newspapers in Newham’s libraries. 
2. Prioritise funding and further resources to provision of English as a Second Language (ESOL). 
3. To commit to the continued provision of community-language books and audio books in Newham’s libraries.
4. To recognise and celebrate the unique diversity of the London Borough of Newham including recognition of the languages and cultures of its individual communities.

An electronic version of the petition can be signed here.

Libraries for a Small Society – Clair Humphries

The first library I remember was small, narrow and a homage to ‘70s design: swirly orange wallpaper, fake wood panelling and strip lights so bright they made my head hurt.

I loved it.

My four year old self wasn’t fussed about wallpaper and, seeing as it was actually the ‘70s at the time, I couldn’t blame the council for embracing contemporary trends in interior décor, however naff they might be. Besides, it was a damn sight more cheery than the rest of the concrete shopping parade on my Granny’s estate (newsagent’s – shielded by a vandal-proof metal grille, pub – boarded up) plus it had books. And people. Which suited me and Granny just fine, because I liked books and she liked to chat.


Later, as a grown-up, I worked in a number of different libraries and met lots of different library users: academics, researchers, students, school children, parents, jobseekers, the homeless. Recently bereaved pensioners – like my Granny – who just wanted to chat. I served some proper famous people, too, from off the telly and everything. I could tell you their stories, but I won’t, because the library experience that most defined my life wasn’t linked to a particular customer or one particular day at work. No, it was the first time I entered that little concrete library with its swirly orange wallpaper and its shelves full of books.


Which is why, Mr Cameron, I don’t buy into a ‘Big Society’ where these unassuming, little libraries are seen as a drain on resources. What I do believe in, and what I see around me every day, are lots of small societies – on city estates, within suburban streets, amongst rural villages and towns. These communities are local, and despite often being as small and narrow as the first library I ever knew, they deserve to be served by libraries that are local too. In ten years time, if someone decides to take their grandchild to the library for a book, who (or what) will serve them? I hope they’ll still have a local library to go to, staffed by people who know and care about the service and its users. The thought of that not being the case has the same effect on me that those harsh ‘70s strip lights did as a child.

It makes my head hurt.

Clair Humphries is a writer who loves libraries. She shares her home with a husband and far too many books.

Community Knowledge Hub and Libraries

Thanks to team member Gary for this post, originally posted on his blog.


Whilst following “The Future of Library Services in the Big Society” conference via Twitter today (#libraries11) I came across a link to “Community Knowledge Hub“. This hub will

“support the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise between organisations with a common interest in realising the benefits of community enterprise.” To be launched in July 2011, “The first Community Knowledge Hub will focus on libraries, providing support to community organisations and local authorities exploring community management solutions as an alternative to closure” and “support the evolution of community managed library services.”

Of course I agree that library services should be saved, but I still believe that it is the responsibility of the local authority to provide public library services. Some reasons for this include:

  • Need for impartiality
  • Statutory duties
  • Economies of scale
  • Existing expertise
  • Social needs.

These are just a handful of reasons and many more can be found on the Voices For The Library site.

Even though many people see the library building and its books as “The library service” this isn’t true. A library service isn’t only defined by a building full of stock, it also depends upon the expertise of the people running the library service, whether they are staffing that building or running services that support front line staff.

With regard to the development of library services, most communities won’t be handed a library service, they will just be handed a building containing books and other stock. Depending on how much control local authorities give to the communities, the community may have to pay for other assets transferred eg. stock; and (if they want to maintain a library service of value) they will generally have to pay to be part of the existing computer network and/or consult with the local authority on running a library service.

It’s ironic that the handing over of library services to local communities is described as asset transfer. The word “asset” implies that the library service has a value. I totally agree with this idea… library services do have a value… In which case, why are local authorities deciding that some libraries are of such little value that they are happy to dump them in a way that implies they don’t care what happens? “Ah! But they are handing them over to local communities, so they are not dumping them,” I can hear people say. In which case, you may like to know that in most cases if local communities don’t volunteer to take over a library, the library will be forced to close. That sounds like ‘dumping them’ to me.

“Each network will provide specialist advice, guidance and resources to drive up the quality and transformative potential of public services that are transferred to then delivered by and for local communities.”

Handing over a service to any organisation (in this case, the community) that doesn’t contain the specialist skills, resources or knowledge to run that service just sounds crazy. It basically means building library services from scratch. Why? Why reinvent the wheel? Why get rid of all that specialist skill, resource and knowledge provided by those who had previously helped provide library services via the local authority and then rebuild it?

“We believe that library services play a vitally important role at the very heart of our communities, and that ‘doing nothing’ would come at a considerable cost. “

I agree, but doing something that fragments a library service, reduces the value of that library service and removes expert skills and knowledge that has been built up over years is also a step backwards, which would come with just as much of a “considerable cost” as “doing nothing”.


Libraries are about people: Sam’s story

It may seem obvious, but I think we can sometimes forget that libraries are not just about books, they’re about people: the people that write the books, that select the books, and those that borrow and use the books. I admit this is an overly simplistic view to make a point, but I am deeply disturbed by the lack of concern for those people shown by the local authorities of this country in their rush to disband library services as we know them. Times are hard and money is short, but even in the toughest times the current and future needs of the community should drive change rather than ideology or simple cost-cutting.

It’s easy to get nostalgic about libraries, and I personally owe a huge debt to the public library service. Books were a luxury that my family couldn’t afford, and my weekly visits with my nan to the little library round the corner fed my appetite for fiction. My love of art was nourished by the beautiful art books that I borrowed, none of which I could ever have afforded to buy. I borrowed travel guides about holiday destinations when I was a carefree twentysomething, and plundered the shelves of cookery books when my son refused to eat anything I cooked. The library has provided entertainment, knowledge, comfort and reassurance at each stage of my life so far.

And now, as a family with two children we regularly use a number of libraries close to us, and our life is enriched in many ways: the children borrow books to read for pleasure and for homework; my husband and I borrow books to read on the daily commute and in our spare time; we all looked forward to Rhymetime when they were little, and we have fun taking part in the activities for children in the holidays, as well as playing games on the computers. We are lucky as our local library is well used and is not directly threatened, but behind the scenes things have been cut back drastically, and this will undoubtedly affect frontline services. The number of professional librarians has been halved, and training budgets are a thing of the past. The library service admits that it is severely underfunded, and as I write the council are seeking alternative ways of providing it. These alternatives include being run by volunteers or outsourcing to private companies.

I’m not opposed to investigating other models, but what I do find offensive is the implication that the service does not need to develop alongside its community and is not worth investing in. Advances in technology are moving rapidly and without investment public libraries risk becoming out of date, and therefore expendable. Will library volunteers want to invest time and effort in managing complicated IT networks and understanding the needs of their local community? Will a private company want to run a holiday reading scheme and associated events if they don’t generate profit? My concern is how we ensure that our library services are not decimated to make short-term, relatively small-scale savings which in the long run could have devastating effects on the prosperity of our young people. I want the little library round the corner to be there for me in my old age, lending me ebooks and providing subscriptions to online resources, but also as a place for me to meet my friends and take my grandchildren to borrow books. Books and information may increasingly be virtual, but people will always still need the library as a place: please use your library card and your voice to show how much your library means to you and your community.



Somewhere special – K M Lockwood

Somewhere special

In the morning

A young couple come in hesitantly. The proud new dad still finds the buggy awkward to manoeuvre and mum is oh-so-tired. Joe and Kulvinder want to do the best by their precious baby but they have little spare cash, what with taking time off work and childcare to think about.

They know encouraging a baby to love language is like breast feeding – one of the best starts in life. But who can they ask? Which books are suitable? Where can they find a fun introduction to learning?

In the afternoon

Elaine comes in as beautifully made up as she did when Roger was alive. She comes in to learn how to use a pc. Always a bright cookie, she would like to save money by paying her bills on-line. She comes in to get the large print books which let her escape to other worlds. She comes in to be with other people. It’s her little trip out.

Just after school

Ade runs in with his homework in his bag. He finds a spot and settles down to work. He is keen to learn but there is no space in his Mum’s tiny flat. He finds something he doesn’t understand. He gets up and asks a librarian and she helps him find reference books and useful websites.  He grasps the new concept. Tomorrow he will shine in class.

In the school holidays

Courtney sidles in and finds a quiet corner between the little children’s books and the Young Adult fiction. No one notices her there; she can read what she likes. She sits with her scuffed shoes that don’t fit tucked under her.

She has found somewhere safe from the girls who make fun of her thin, cheap clothes. She has found somewhere safe till Dad comes back from work. She has found somewhere safe to dream of better times.

They have all come to the right place: they have all come to the library.

K. M. Lockwood is a writer for children and young adults who lives by the sea in West Sussex.  Website is http://kmlockwood.com/

Communities, Cartoons and Cheese

Public libraries frequently host or put on a range of events and activities that are wide in scope, audience and purpose. These avenues of informal learning, recreation, and social life show the library’s important role as a hub within the community – of far greater impact on the life of the local area than traditional stereotypical views would suggest. Here are just a few current and recent events from libraries around the UK:

Greasby Library in Wirral will be hosting an event showcasing the history of Wirral’s Lidos (open-air swimming pools) on Monday 6th of June – presenting the history of the area for education, entertainment and discussion.

The Crowhurst Community Agriculture group will be at Ore Library in Hastings on Saturday 4th of June to share their expertise. Take advantage of their advice, experience, hints and tips – there will also be a Plant Swap, so bring along some plants/cuttings/seeds and join in!

The Carnegie Library in Ayr hosted a kids’ cartoon workshop on the 27th May, led by a prominent local artist and citizen (who was actually awarded ‘Citizen of the Year’ a few years ago!). This gave the children an opportunity to learn and practice new creative skills whilst also engaging with their local community.

Several of Gloucestershire’s libraries are promoting a series of childrens events (between the 31st of May and the 3rd of June) celebrating local sporting heroes. This will focus on some interesting characters including an ex-commando surfing legend, a Wimbledon champion and the fingerless navigator who sailed solo across the Atlantic in 1899. There will also be fun traditional local sports events, not the least of which will be the cheese rolling! http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/libraries/utilities/action/act_download.cfm?mediaid=41349

Barnstaple Library in Devon is starting a Work Club service aimed at helping people get back into work or looking for their first job. This will include help with CV writing, interview techniques, volunteering opportunities and assistance with online application forms, as well as computer access in order to search for vacancies and help improve basic IT skills. http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/cultureheritage/libraries/entertainment/index/cultureheritage/libraries/yourlocallibrary/north_devon_libraries/barnstaple_library/events_at_barnstaple_library.htm

That’s just a small number of the things going on in libraries. If you want to find out what’s going on in your local public library why not visit your local library website and look for the “What’s on?” or “Events” link on it for more details.
…and, if you’ve enjoyed an event at your local library, why not share your experiences with us, by emailing us with details at stories@voicesforthelibrary.org.uk?

‘Prime services of civilisation in an increasingly barbaric age’ – Richard’s story

We measure civilisations by what survives of them.

Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce

After the Holocaust, after genocide, the acts of destruction and barbarism remembered most clearly, despised most deeply are book burnings. In our collective memory they are inextricably linked with intolerance, persecution and massacre.

At the age of fourteen, I moved back to England after having lived in Germany for eleven years and was placed in all the bottom sets at my new school because I spoke strangely, because I exhibited none of the arts of social interaction my school mates had acquired. But I wanted to be educated. I had read Homer and Swift in German – why couldn’t I be allowed to use that knowledge now?

I was desperate to learn French, to be the best in French. So, every day, after school, I went to Doncaster Central Library, took the previous day’s copy of Le Monde from its shelf, sat down at a large, rectangular, melamine-topped table and read. On Day One, I understood less than a third of what I read; by the end of the year, I understood most of it (and fell in love into the bargain, with a girl whose name I never found out, who visited the library every day, too). I went on to study German, French and Linguistics at the University of Cambridge, and to spend time in one of the greatest libraries in the world, the University Library.

When, in 2006, we moved from Norway into this tiny village of Stradbroke in Suffolk, we were immensely grateful for the service provided by the library here, to help our children (and us) to become reacquainted with the English language. We are heavy users of our library, one of many libraries threatened with closure by Suffolk County Council. Much of the research for Dead Men, my debut novel to be published in 2012, would have been impossible without the support of the professionals running Stradbroke Library,

We all have the right to educate ourselves. The government has a statutory obligation to allow us to educate ourselves through the provision of a public libraries service. To devise a strategy which forces local councils to close library services is an abdication of responsibility and common sense, and a malicious attack on our rights as individuals, fuelled, to no small extent I surmise, by high-Tory squirism and the desire to suppress the development and free speech of individuals critical of the status quo.

I support the Voices for the Library campaign, because public libraries, especially rural ones, are the only way for many people to access knowledge, to access the Internet to inform themselves, to apply for jobs, to be a part of the world outside; the only way for older people to get hold of affordable, large print books, and to continue to be enveloped by human warmth and friendships they may not find at home, and, in turn, to keep their minds and bodies active for longer without having to find refuge in the (also underfunded) NHS. They are prime services of civilisation in an increasingly barbaric age.

Richard Pierce was born in Doncaster in 1960, and lived in Germany for 11 years to 1974. Educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, he is administrator and trustee for three grant-making charities. His debut novel Dead Men will be published by a major UK publisher in 2012. He is married, has four children, a cat, a Triumph Spitfire, a collection of epees, and thousands of books he’s still trying to find space for (in addition to all the books he borrows from Stradbroke Library). His web site is www.tettig.com, and can be found on twitter as @tettig.

‘Heart of the Village’: a poem

VftL are pleased to share this poem by Jane Bolderston, from the Friends of Benson Library (Oxfordshire).

The Heart of the Village



Benson library is situated in Castle Square

Perhaps you’ve been in, or driven by there?

It has been lending books for forty years

But now it’s the subject of our worst fears.


A decision was made to have funding withdrawn

A decision met by the villagers scorn

‘Please don’t close our library’ a unanimous cry

And here are some of the reasons why.


Our children have the gift of imagination

And reading a book holds their fascination

The library helps them to learn and grow

A safe, local place, they’re happy to go.


Mothers with buggies need minimal fuss

The last thing they want is to catch a bus

They can stroll through the village during the day

And stop at the library along the way.


For the elderly who like to read for pleasure

They can browse through the books at their leisure

Large prints, audios, so much more

They can all be found on just one floor.


And for those of us of ‘inbetween’ ages

Who may not have the time to leaf through pages

The library can offer something for you

CD’s, DVD’s and Internet access too.


The warm friendly staff put you at ease

They’re happy to help and aim to please

They know you by name and remember your face

Can you get that in any other place?


It’s not just a library, it’s the village heart

And surrounding areas are playing their part

From Benson, Ewelme, Roke, Berrick Salome

We are pleading with you to leave our library alone.


Costing public library use

I have previously blogged about the value of public libraries to me and my family. A few months ago we set up a new blog listing the books we borrow including their cost, Overdue Books. One of the reasons behind setting up this blog was to show the true cost of the books we borrow. A common argument against the need for public libraries is that books are cheap, why borrow when you can just buy. While some books are relatively cheap and while there is lots of material free online to read this doesn’t mean its the type of material I want to read or introduce my young children too. I am also in the fortunate postion to be able to afford to buy some books and have online access, however this is not the case for everyone.
Overdue Books is keeping a count of all the books we borrow from the library including costs where possible, a blog post ‘counting the cost’ has technical details on how this has been done. In under 2 years if we had bought all the books we borrowed from the library we would have spent an estimated £3400, this works out roughly as a book habit of £150 a month, definitely not something we could afford.
Our young son is the biggest user of the library in terms of number of books he borrow. I think having such a wealth and variety of books is a huge benefit in terms of his development, use of imagination, his language skills etc. Not something you can add a value to.
He is able to choose from, what I recognise, as a good and appropiate collection of material far superior to what you would find in many bookshops. While online bookstores have a much wider range of stock he is too young to successfully browse and select items also there would be the cost of purchase, which as I previoulsy mentioned would be too prohibitive .
I have been interested to see my son’s use of the library and acknowledge that it is much more than just borrowing books. He has learned a sense of community and sharing, knowing he needs to return the books so other people can have a chance to borrow them as well. The freedom to borrow any material without any consequences such as cost, means he can be adventurous in his reading, if he doesn’t like it he can just return it. The library also provides a safe environment where he meets other children and parents as well as the opportunity to take part in some of the activities run by the library.
The borough where we live, Warwickshire is currently running a 12 week consultation  from March 18  until June 9 as the council is planning budget cuts of approx 27% over the next 3 years to the library and information service. These cuts include the closure of a number of libraries. From completing the consultation document I was left a little unclear as to what impact the consultation will have considering it seems like the decision to close the libraries has already been made. The tone of the document made me think the purpose of the consultation was mainly to see if anyone else wanted to take over the running of these libraries. Personally I have concerns about community run libraries in terms of their sustainabilty to in maintaing standards.
It is really disheartening to see that many local authorities across the UK are looking to close libraries as part of their cost cutting measures. We recently had a new addition to the family and is already a member of our public library, I do hope for the sake of future generations we do not lose something as valuable as our public libraries as without them it would be a poorer society.



Library card

Damyanti Patel

Are volunteers happy to run libraries?

As time moves on for library consultations in the UK, many local authorities appear to be focusing on the fact that if communities don’t want their libraries closed then they must run them themselves. I know this situation has been discussed before, but the thing that strikes me about this stance is that:
  • Local authorities suggest that local communities on the whole are happy to do this.
  • It feels as if local authorities are using emotional blackmail against communities.
Here are a number of quotes taken from UK newspapers to illustrate the situation.

“For months, Richard Graham has been telling people that someone in Matson is certain to take over the running of the library from the county council,” he said.

“He has asked at least four local groups to my knowledge and all of them have said ‘no’ and are committed to fighting the library’s unjust closure which targets one of the poorest communities.”

This is Gloucestershire: Gloucester MP’s library claims dismissed as books nailed to a cross

“The issue of community libraries is an absolute misnomer. Some parts of the country are already trying this and it takes 50 to 60 volunteers plus management to run one. It can only work in an affluent area because you are relying on donations. There’s no way that somewhere like Rossington could support a community library.”

Doncaster Free Press: Mayor apologises as Doncaster’s Cabinet approves library cuts (4th Feb, 2011)

“As a community we have got to do something, otherwise we will lose the library and we absolutely have to keep it going,” said Mary Waller, a retired librarian and member of the newly formed Berkeley Community Library Committee BCLC.

“There are so many reasons for keeping a library open and no reason at all for closing one.

Gazette Series: Berkeley community set to take on threatened library (5th May, 2011)

“The council hoped to realise savings of £417,300 in the current financial year by “reconfiguring” the library service.

But a public outcry over plans to close 20 libraries if local groups fail to accept an offer of “community take over” has forced the council to hold a public consultation, which will not end until June 13.”

Daily Echo: County council given ‘red alert’ over failing projects (5th May, 2011)

“I don’t want to see libraries closed – I want them to continue to succeed. We know how important they are – and that’s why we’re working to make sure they stay open into the future. Like every council service, they need to play their part in making savings – but, with the support of communities, no library need close.

This is Gloucestershire: Mark Hawthorne: Library closures show how hard times are (16th Feb, 2011)

“The council are consulting but I think the final line is they will shut the library unless the community finds a way of taking it over. I do understand the county’s position but I think they haven’t really got a clear idea about where the funding and provision for this library is going to come from.”

Cambridge News: £36,000 to keep library safe (12th May, 2011)

“Great Missenden, Chalfont St Peter and Gerrards Cross are three of 14 libraries which will be run largely by volunteers as part of ‘county and community’ model.

If enough volunteers are not found to run these services they face closure.”

Buckinghamshire Advertiser: Chief calls on communities to save libraries (11th April, 2011)

Judging by the responses from local communities, people are not in favour of running their own libraries, but, as they are in favour of keeping the public libraries in their communities, they feel that they have to run them or run the risk of losing them.

Emotionally blackmailing people into running a library service in this way, because the local authority no longer wishes to continue providing the service, is wrong and morally questionable.

We also have to raise the question that, if the local community can see the value of having a local public library so much that they are prepared to volunteer to help run it, then why can’t councils see the value in keeping that library open and continue to fund it themselves with trained staff?

Ramsgate library - ijclark

Ramsgate library – ijclark/Flickr