In the interest of balance….the people and their libraries

Having seen an article along these lines appearing twice on This is Gloucestershire, I felt it time I provided some balance, and accuracy, as our local editors seem to be failing  to do so. Firstly, this article is incorrect (which I do believe was pointed out last time). In the county council’s plans Prestbury Library was never, and still isn’t, going to be “run” by volunteers. The plan is to supplement the drastically reduced opening hours by using volunteers, as clarified by Library Services Manager, Sue Laurence who said in correspondence with me,

 Prestbury library will remain as a county run service staffed by our staff team”

Therefore, I really do not understand the logic behind these articles.

People have been able to volunteer for the library service for years. Nothing is stopping them now. So why do they “have to wait”? Furthermore, as Gloucestershire County Council STILL (I have heard nothing more since I wrote this blog post, from Sue Laurence or from Diana Hibbert or David Prince, my own County Councillors who are supposed to represent me and the locality) have not drawn up a privacy and data protection policy, you would think that the people of Prestbury would welcome the extra time available to them to make sure the plans are water tight and within the law?…meanwhile, they still have a functioning, county run library.

Finally, to add some balance to this article and previous ones;

It is reported that the “eager” volunteers of Prestbury will “have to wait” to help at their library but since the injunction and permission for judicial review was announced Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has had many, many emails and letters from people who are overjoyed that they get to keep their county run library service for a few months longer at least.

A retired couple, who have been using the mobile library service for over 30 years wrote to us to tell us how thrilled they are that they can continue to access it. They cannot get to any static library so would be cut off from this lifeline entirely after the cuts.

My friend registered a new born baby for a library card recently and has been taking him to “baby bounce and rhyme” sessions at a library destined to be cast adrift by Gloucestershire County Council. She does not drive and would struggle to get to another library. She has been able to socialise her little boy, introduce him to new books and meet other new parents. A great start for a new life I’d say.

Parents who are thrilled that their children can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge this year, thanks to the judicial review keeping open the mobile and static libraries, have also been in touch expressing their joy.

A lady who lost her internet access at home for several days emailed us from the library saying how pleased she was to still be able to do this…thanks to the hard work of campaigners.

These are just a few of the many, many stories we have received. It really is disappointing that our local press are failing to report on these stories to balance out the picture, instead of regurgitating the same inaccuracies that do not express the views of the people of Gloucestershire, people that will be badly affected by the library cuts and are very much behind the campaign to save them. If the legal challenge is won by the claimant then the eager people of Prestbury need not be disappointed, there have long been volunteering opportunities in Gloucestershire and not just in the libraries. It would be great if our wonderful library staff got to keep their jobs and the eager volunteers got to keep their library…freeing them up to volunteer for the many other good causes in Gloucestershire instead.

The local press also failed to report on the big news that Children’s Laureate, and renowned author Julia Donaldson, this week got right behind the campaign to save our libraries and voiced her support for the judicial review. Now, I am no journalist but THAT is a story.

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3 Responses to In the interest of balance….the people and their libraries

  1. The Echo should be ashamed of itself.

    • Indeed. Whilst local library users are buoyed by the increasingly outraged and vocal national press, who continue shine the spotlight on the devastating library cuts both in Gloucestershire and nationwide, (The Times yesterday, The Bookseller on Thursday to name a few) and by high profile authors voicing their support, some of the local press choose instead to unquestioningly publish the spin of local politicians. It is disappointing and it is evident that they are becoming increasingly out of touch with reality and their readers.

  2. Graham Howard says:

    I note with interest that Gloucestershire County Councillors seem hell bent on making cuts to all and sundry, and as with the library service, cuts out of all proportion, but they are still drawing a
    basic pay of £8,799.96 plus pay for ‘special resposibility’ and traveling expenses. This totals over
    the last 12 months £860,904.39. [their own figures off the website]
    What ever happened to ‘serving the community’ instead of themselves ?

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