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Libraries Don’t Have to be Run by Librarians…..

Andy Richardson updates on the current controversy on the future provision of Library Services proposed by the Tory Bromley Council

Closing Branch Libraries is very unpopular. Closed libraries tend to be occupied by library staff and users and create bad press for local councillors. Closed Libraries often are re-opened and have been staffed by volunteers to keep the service open. Councillors are remembered at election time for library closures in their wards.

There is a new tactic. You don’t actually close down a library – you offer it to the “community” to run it for you. So the building and the stock are offered – but not the paid staff that have run it.

This is not a library service – it is a room full of books run by volunteers.

The key phrase is “Library Service”

Councillors say they haven’t closed a library – but they sure have cut a library service.

It’s not just Tory Councils doing it – but primarily it is and they are more gungho that other local authorities

Bromley Council Library Proposals

Bromley Council are offering the Library Service out to be managed by outside agency – a “commissioning of library service”

This is to give the day to day running responsibility of all public libraries within Bromley (with the possible exception of the proposed “community libraries”) to an independent commercial company. Part of Bromley Council’s policy on devolving their responsibility for directly employing any council staff – like Liberata for council tax……..and anyone having direct contact with this organisation can draw their own conclusions to the “success” of such outsourced services….

The full details of the proposal can be seen here

The Bromley Council Executive Team looked at the proposals on Monday 9th November 2015 – the public and press were excluded from this meeting as

“ it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.”

Once a decision is made on the way forward – if the decision is to go for a commissioned service or –  should we say “when” the the decision to go for a commissioned service is decided (this has the look of a done deal with biaised surveys and the recommendations offered in the above proposals) – Bromley will look to join up with Bexley Council as a “possible” joint commissioning of library services

It is anticipated that the commissioned library service will be place by Spring 2017. The council will announce who will be running the six community libraries next year. If no suitable community groups come forward for any of the branches, decisions on the libraries to be taken back into the Bromley library service fold (to be included in the “commissioned library service”) or closures will be made – although no date is apparent for these decisions…

Those not taken up by volunteer groups will probably will be taken back into the fold… the Tory’s are adamant that no libraries will close…. it would involve a Tory councillor or two voting against the Council…  heaven forfend! No sitting on your hands this time guys!

Libraries being offered to the Community and the Wards affected.

Hayes Library – Hayes & Coney Hall Ward

Councillor Graham Arthur Conservative

Councillor Peter Fortune Conservative

Councillor Neil Reddin Conservative

Burnt Ash Library – Sundridge Ward

Councillor Ellie Harmer Conservative

Councillor Peter Morgan Conservative

Councillor Michael Turner Conservative

Shortlands Library – Copers Cope and Shortland Wards

Copers Cope

Councillor Russell Mellor Conservative

Councillor Michael Tickner Conservative

Councillor Stephen Wells Conservative


Councillor Mary Cooke Conservative

Councillor David Jefferys Conservative

Southborough Library – Bickley and Bromley Common & Keston Wards


Councillor Kate Lymer Conservative

Councillor Catherine Rideout Conservative

Councillor Colin Smith Conservative

Bromley Common & Keston

Councillor Alexa Michael Conservative

Councillor Ruth Bennett Conservative

Councillor Stephen Carr Conservative

Mottingham Library – Mottingham and Chislehurst North Wards

Councillor David Cartwright Conservative

Councillor Charles Rideout Conservative

St Paul’s Cray Library – Cray Valley West Ward

Councillor Judi Ellis Conservative

Councillor David Livett UKIP

Councillor Terence Nathan UKIP


Chartered Institute of Library & Information Practitioners (CILIP)

CILIP is the professional body that most public librarians are members of. Ever since 1877 when it was the Library Association, the profession has trained and supplied professional librarians to run and maintain public libraries over the previous century until present day. The current library service in Bromley has been created, maintained and provided service to the borough by many years of professional librarians hard worked careers. Bromley Tory Councillors want to replace paid professional and library workers with volunteers who have little or no librarianship training or expertise. Councillor Michael Rutherford, who publicly said that

“Libraries don’t have to be run by librarians”

disrespects all those people who have given up their lives and careers to provide Bromley citizens with a library service to be proud of.

The profession has a very steadfast viewpoint on replacement of professional and support roles by volunteers – which Councillor Alexa Michael – a librarian – should know about.

CILIP’s Policy on Volunteers

Bromley Council Meeting Monday 19th October 2015

Petition by Vicky Devaney

Vicky asked Bromley Council to revoke their proposal to hand 6 libraries to the community. It was an excellent address – see it in full here

In his reply on behalf of the council, Councillor Michael Rutherford

He was supported by Alexa Michael

Mottingham councillors Councillor David Cartwright and Councillor Charles Rideout both spoke of the importance of Mottingham Library to the community – then both abstained from the vote… Another Tory councillor also abstained but we failed to note who it was from the public gallery – although he sat beside the two Mottingham councillors

The 6 attending Labour Councillors and two UKIP members voted against Councillor Rutherford’s motion.

We now await the published account of Monday 9th November Executive Meeting. Will they listen to what people who took the time to fill in their dodgy questionnaires who clearly do no want “community run” libraries and for staff to remain council employees and not sold off to private “library management” companies….??? Don’t hold your breath…

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