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
- North Lincs
- And now Bromley (who take Barnet as their role model)
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
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
- CILIP is opposed to job substitution where paid professional and support roles are directly replaced with either volunteers or untrained administrative posts to save money. This applies to all library and information services in every sector.
- My motion at the CILIP AGM in September this year around amateurisation of the Public Library service through councils offering libraries to communities to be maintained by volunteers and to strongly oppose any current or future proposals was passed by a resounding 130 for against 7 and we are looking for the professional body to be more active in voicing this opposition and the very near future.
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
- Proposed a “no change to proposals” vote
- Said “Libraries don’t have to be run by librarians”
He was supported by Alexa Michael
- Who said she was a Librarian / information scientist
- She talked about the wonders of Friern Barnet Community Library informed apparently by a friend in Barnet but if you go to the Friern Barnet website most of the activities she raved about appear to be taken word for word from the site
- This is the same Friern Barnet Community Library that waved a flag in opposition to Barnet Library cuts the following evening at Hendon Town Hall where Tory Council cuts were voted through
- She voted for the Tory proposal which – if she is a member – goes against CILIP policy.
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…