In my role as chair of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries I was interviewed for the Gloucestershire Echo yesterday about our concerns regarding the councils plans for our libraries.
Cllr Noble’s comments in this article just shows that she really does not get where we are coming from here – This “strength of support” we are showing for libraries shows that we think they are too important to be handed over to just anyone. They are too important to be run on philanthropy, at the will of anyone who shouts the loudest. It is too much of a risk. The library service should be run as a professional service, by the council, for the council tax payers that are entitled to them. Yes we care about libraries but that does not mean we could or should have to run them ourselves. Cllr Noble mentions Bucks libraries which she claims is a “success” well I heard the “volunteer librarian” being interviewed on BBC Radio Gloucestershire yesterday and she said “the library will be a success but it depends on the continuing financial support of the community” – well we ask what happens when that has gone as in Swindon? She also fails to mention Bucks libraries are supported by the central libraries services. Gloucestershire Council is saying community libraries can “buy services” off the central library services – services that the community are already paying for in taxes and that people in the large towns will have access to without having to pay twice. What if they don’t buy the services from the central library? there will be a two tier library system which is wrong – there should be equal access to all.
I am sorry Cllr Noble but if you think we are going to take over the councils legal responsibility to provide us with a comprehensive library service you have another thing coming. A slippery and predictable response from a councillor who appears to know nothing about the ethics, values and role of public library services.
In principle I also believe it is wrong to put people out of important jobs that serve so much of the community and expect people to do it for free and live off air!
With 3million people using Gloucestershire’s libraries last year does Cllr Noble really want to be remembered as the person who destroyed our library service when election time comes round again? because that is what will happen.