Demelza, a library user and Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner, was invited onto Stroud FM’s lunchtime show with Allan Berry today (23/11/1o) to discuss how she felt about the councils plans for our public libraries. Demelza wrote the following report about the interview.
“Just back from Stroud following the radio show. Think it went quite well – although I did catch myself babbling at high speed a few times! John was much cooler, and gave over all the facts about the proposals and what ‘community ownership’ would actually entail (i.e. not just finding volunteers, but finding funding). He described how in areas of the country where this approach is being considered a ‘success’ the County Council have continued to provide funding to the library and treat it as part of the library network. This will not be the case under the GCC proposals, so these kinds of comparisons being made by Councillors are disingenuous. He also explained what was meant by the ‘Link’ and ‘Express’ models proposed for some libraries – greatly reduced opening hours, smaller book selections and self-service only.
I talked mainly about the impact of the proposals on more vulnerable members of society (people living in deprived areas, less-well off families, the elderly, and the disabled for example) and mentioned the story of the group member who is a carer, with the library offering a ‘lifeline’ for the vulnerable adults she works with. I talked a bit about Hesters Way as that’s the library I personally use, but emphasised that the same issues apply to many libraries across the county facing cuts or closure. John highlighted the loss of the mobile libraries and how this would particularly impact rural areas, the elderly and those with mobility issues. We also focused on the disproportionate-ness (if that’s a word!) of the scale of the cuts vis a vis actual amount saved, and the simplistic and un-representative nature of the ‘meeting the challenge’ survey which Cllr Nobel is using to justify these cuts. – i.e. less then 1% of county council residents responding to the survey, and incredibly simplistic and misleading questions forcing people to ‘choose’ between services such as care for the elderly or the fire service and the library, with no acknowledgement of the respective costs of different services and how services may interlink with one another.
I read out the website address for FoGL and publicised the meeting on the 1st, and also asked that if people in other towns and villages had/have planned to start their own local groups/campaigns then to get i
n touch so we could all work together. The presenter, Allan Berry, also read out Mark Hawthorne’s email address, and John advised people to complete the current consultation exercise and contact their local Councillors.”
We were told that the council and library service failed to respond to invites to take part in this discussion………………..