Extraordinary Meeting Called

The Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are calling an extraordinary meeting to discuss the councils proposals for our library services that have been announced today. We have been told that 11 libraries are to close unless we run them ourselves. We have grave concerns that this will result in the failure to deliver us the comprehensive library service the council are legally obliged to provide and to which we have a right.

These issues will be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday 17th November at 7pm in the local history room at Cheltenham Library. All welcome. If you are unable to attend but would like to raise any concerns please do contact us or comment here and we will air you views at our meeting.

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29 Responses to Extraordinary Meeting Called

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Extraordinary Meeting Called | Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries -- Topsy.com

  2. Eva Langrock-Bircher says:

    Hi Jo
    I WILL be there after all. The cuts they are proposing are enormous, and the risk is: once the libraries will be shut they might not reopen.
    There is a Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet meeting on 18th Nov, 2pm, so if you have time come and protest outside Shire Hall from 1pm or stay for the Cabinet meeting.
    See you on Wednesday night.
    Eva

  3. Demelza says:

    Unfortunately I’m out of town on the 17th, but will do my best to get to future events/meetings. Thank you for organising around this.

  4. Tim Coates says:

    Jo. Is there anything I can do to help? Tim

    • Tim, thanks for the offer of help but I’m not sure that your aims are entirely coincident with those of the campaign. You may recall that you sent me an email in August which, among other things, stated that:

      “I am a historian and have tremendous respect for the academic librarians and archivists with whom I work. I have little or no respect for public library professionals I am afraid I believe that they carry most of the responsibility for the poor state of the service”

      The aims of our group currently state here https://foclibrary.wordpress.com/ that β€œwe aim to work with library staff and managers to ensure the library service achieves and maintains high quality library and information services” Library users and library staff need to come together to save our libraries. This will only work with mutual respect.

  5. Ian Anstice says:

    Best of luck in your campaign. Cuts are sadly happening everywhere in the UK but Gloucestershire seems to be on the more direly affected side.

    It’s interesting that the severe cuts in Lewisham have been postponed as its mayor said “β€œI did not seek election as your mayor in order to close down libraries”. The report is at:

    http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/8633481.LEWISHAM__Library_closure_decisions_deferred_by_mayor/

    This followed, amongst other things, a march by around 200 protesters through Lewisham:

    http://alangibbons.net/?p=1641

    More power to you.

    • Thank you for your message of support Ian. We have been watching what has been going on across the country with interest and dismay. You are right, Gloucestershire County Councils approach seems extreme – we knew it would be bad but this is just shocking. I wonder if our elected representatives in Gloucestershire want to be known as the people that killed the public library service next time elections come around? I really do not think they understand how important libraries are to our communities.

  6. Demelza says:

    This morning I wrote to Cllr Sheppard and Cllr Skinner who represent my neighbourhood, concerning the proposed closure of Hester’s Way Library (my local) and recieved very prompt replies. They are concerned at the proposed closure, and have said they will strongly defend the library at the next full council meeting on 24th Nov (they are not able to join the debate on the 18th as they are not Cabinet members, but said they were sure ‘questions would be asked’). I have also sent my concerns to Jane Cleaver, so my questions should be asked at the meeting on the 18th. If you want to contact your local County Councillors about this, you can find out who they are and their contact details here: http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgFindCouncillor.aspx

    • Excellent news! Thanks Demelza. It is great to hear that this is being taken seriously by some at last. Please do keep us posted on any further developments. I emailed two of my local councillors. One, Mr David Prince, has ignored me. The other, Diana Hibbert, merely said
      “Thank you for your email, I have noted your concerns regarding the future funding for our libraries” she has since refused to comment further. When elected representatives are this dismissive of residents then I can’t imagine they will win many votes when the elections come around again!

  7. Clemmie says:

    Good luck to all of you. In the neighbouring authority of Wiltshire we are losing around 63% of our Librarians. These ‘voluntary’ redundancies will decimate the service as we know it.

    • Thank you Clemmie,
      It seems like it is bad news everywhere. I just do not see why libraries are being so badly attacked when they are small fry compared to council spending elsewhere. They are seen as an easy target. We have to do all we can to stop this from happening. Good luck to you to. The council have a fight on their hands here!

  8. Shirley Burnham says:

    To my knowledge, insofar as the “running” of Walcot Library in Swindon (a term which can be misinterpreted), it is the case that although paid library staff do not work on the premises, there is significant input from nearby Park Library and Swindon’s central library. I understand that volunteers at Walcot Library are assisted in various ways from behind the scenes, including receiving books “shelf ready” from Park Library. The volunteers’ responsibilities are mainly to monitor the book stacks and assist customers who may have problems with the automated machines (forgetting their pin number etc) ; for this purpose and for other queries they have access to a hotline to the central library. It is likely that they must all undergo CRB checks, but I am not certain of this. I am also unaware of how much access they may be allowed to databases, under Data Protection rules. If it is proposed that many of your libraries in Gloucestershire are to be run root-and-branch by volunteers , with all the librarianship and business skills necessary to do so, then I imagine that a large pool of volunteers, with diverse abilities, would be required for each, with greater expertise and knowledge than is required of those who volunteer for simple duties at the charity shop and library in Walcot, Swindon. An alternative is to keep paid staff for core hours who are assisted, but not replaced by, volunteers, in order to ensure a sustainable, quality service. It is dismaying to see that there will be libraries where machines and no staff are proposed. They are very unwelcoming and do not function as “libraries” in the proper sense.

  9. Chris Tooze says:

    Unfortunately I think I cannot make your meeting but would like to support your campaign. I do think there is case for a review of spending in libraries (as there is in all departments) – but I’m shocked by the extent of the proposed cuts.
    Please find below a copy of the email I have just sent to Ed Vaizey, Minister in the Coalition Government with responsibilities for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries :
    <>

    I will let you know what response I receive

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Thank you for your message of support. Unfortunately your email to Vaisey has not appeared though. Perhaps you would like to email it to me at foc.cheltlib@gmail.com and I will add it on a blog post. I will be interested to hear what he says although I can predict it. I emailed Martin Horwood – Lib Dem MP about our concerns and got a response from Vaisey!
      It is a shame you cannot make the meeting. We will post a report of it on this website and if you do email us then I can include you on our emailing list to keep you updated.

  10. Chris Tooze says:

    That didnt seem to work… what I emailed him was:

    In January 2009 you were quoted as follows:

    Wirral Council’s annoucement that 15 libraries in the area are to close has provoked widespread local opposition and a campaign, led by Alan Gibbons, to get
    culture secretay Andy Burnham to intervene.
    Menawhile Conservative libraries spokesman, Ed Vaizey, has also added his support top the campaign. In a letter to Burnham, Vaizey wrote: ” As you know this statutory power [The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964] allows you to review library closure plans, as one of your predecessors did with Derbyshire libraries.
    “I am asking you now to exercise this power and call in the decision of Wirral council to close eleven libraries.”
    Are you now prepared to do the same in relation to proposed cuts in Gloucestershire Library Services?

    • Chris,
      This is great! Thank you. I take back my previous comment – I can not predict what he will say to that!

      • Chris Tooze says:

        At the moment he hasnt answered – MP’s generally do answer eventually but he may well be busy, so best give him some time to be fair.

        My email is c.2s@hotmail.co.uk – am quite happy to receive emails from yourselves. Myself and colleagues are talking about the possibility of organising a petition or something similar – we will try to keep in touch by looking at this site in the meantime

  11. John R says:

    From the various papers I have read two things stand out:
    1. The oft-repeated statement that some survey stated that people in Gloucestershire were prepared to accept the closure and/or reduced opening hours for our libraries. I would like to see how this question was framed and, more importantly, whether this acceptance of a reduced library service was some sort of mandate for the vandalism that is being proposed.
    2. The success of Buckinghamshire libraries. As has been pointed out, these libraries are in relatively affluent areas and it seems that, for example, Little Chalfont library has 50 volunteers. But what I would be interested in is knowing who is scheduling all these excellent people and their varying hours? This sounds like an absolute nightmare as a management job and I would be interested to know how this is organised. Management of these resources would seem like much more than a full-time job!

  12. John R says:

    I would like to point out that amidst all these cuts the stock of books in Gloucestershire libraries is very poor. I have searched for various popular titles (recommended in the weekend newspapers) and have found that Oxfordshire and Worcestershire (counties of a similar size) are better provided for. Some examples, in the order, Glos, Oxford, Worcester are as follows:
    Secret Life of Bletchley Park -1, 8, 5
    Potsdam Station – 0, 4, 1
    Red Plenty – 0, 6, 2
    Berlin-Baghdad Express -0, 3, 2

    The author of Red Plenty, Francis Spufford, gave a presentation on his book at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

    • John R says:

      Perhaps I should have mentioned that I have donated my copies of Secret of Life of Bletchley Park and Red Plenty to Gloucestershire libraries, so their quoted levels should be inflated by one. (I don’t think this is a long-term strategy.)

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