Tuesday, 22 October 2013

JLIS bought out by Carillion

A few weeks ago a couple of big birdies told me that JLIS, the company that manages Hounslow, Ealing, Harrow and Croydon Libraries, where soon to be bought out. And lo and behold;

"The company John Laing, which includes Croydon LBC and Tunbridge Wells BC among its contracted clients, announced it had sold its support services and facilities management business to Carillion plc because it no longer fitted with core business.
All staff in the division, called John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), have transferred directly over.
The sale was unconditional and took place on 18 October 2013."

What this will mean for users and staff who knows? Although it must be a little unsettling to say the least as staff and users in Ealing, Harrow & Croydon have only just got to know JLIS in the last few weeks (Hounslow has been run by them for over 5 years) and are now going to have to start again. A recent article also raises concerns about the lack of communication and consultation involved in the takeover;

"It is understood members of staff at the libraries were not informed of the sale and only realised a change had taken place after they noticed their emails had changed last weekend.
There is also confusion as to how the handover with Carillion will take place, with employees being told that previous arrangements with JLIS such as child credits are now suspended until further notice."
The other thing that might worry staff is the Carillion's reputation for being anti-union and for cutting jobs and terms and conditions, see;

I'm sure we will find out soon enough!

For an excellent analysis see;


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Speak up for Libraries Conference 23/11/13; Resisting, Improving and Promoting!

Public Libraries and library staff across the UK are doing great and crucial work..

We work with local communities to improve literacy levels, we help bridge the 'digital divide'; helping those who need assistance with online information and benefits, we work with schools/nurseries/playgroups to support the curriculum and to foster lifelong learning, in fact we are a crucial public service and are seen by many as a lifeline, especially those who are socially, geographically and economically disadvantaged and isolated.

But all this brilliant and crucial work we do is done under severe pressure brought about by savage local government cuts.

Library services have been hollowed out, 3000+ jobs gone, 500-600+ libraries closed or taken out of public control, many specialist staff with decades of invaluable local and professional knowledge lost, staff are often being forced to work on their own or at or below minimum staffing levels, staff are being forced to take on extra work and duties often linked to co-location, shared services, short staffing and deprofessionalisation, staff are being forced to operate with and conform to often conflicting service delivery models (privatisation, commercialisation etc), vital outreach work has been curtailed etc etc etc. for more detail on the cuts to public libraries see https://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/On%20line%20Catalogue/21589.pdf

And what effect is all this having on users? For those who see their local library closed it can be devastating and there are many more who manage to save the building but have a gun put to their heads and told "run your library or we'll close it", but this is leading to a two-tier and fragmented service, many are not happy doing it but don't see any other choice. Many more are marching and protesting against the cuts, setting up friends and campaign groups and mounting legal challenges. And this is why 'Speak up for Libraries' is crucial, SUFL brings together campaigners, users, union members and library professionals, not only to fight to save library services but also to improve and promote them.

This years conference is a not to be missed one, it's very unlikely that you are ever going to have the chance to listen to and question a line up like this;

  • Yinnon Ezra, Advisor for Libraries at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries at Arts Council England (ACE)
  • Janene Cox, President, The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL)
  • Alan Gibbons, author and founder of Campaign for the Book
  • Phil Bradley, President, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP)
  • Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government, UNISON
  • Steve Davies, Lecturer in Social Sciences, University of Cardiff

So get booking, see https://speakupforlibraries.eventbrite.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Is privatisation the next step for libraries in Kent - Voices for the Library - 08/10/13


Recently, a number of articles have appeared suggesting that Kent Library Service might be privatised:
Libraries and residential care homes could be among the first key frontline services to be privatised or run by other organisations in a wide-ranging County Hall shake-up.
The two are listed as among the first wave of services Kent County Council intends to subject to what it calls a “market review” under a three-year plan which will get under way next month.
The so-called market review of a dozen services represents the first step in the authority’s move to re-shape itself as a commissioning council – meaning it will focus on contracting out more services to the private and voluntary sector.”

Campaigners fear for future of Croydon libraries uncertain after facilities outsourced - SWLondoner - 10/10/13

“The council has decimated the arts by privatising libraries and selling off the Riesco collection of Chinese pottery,” said Elizabeth Ash, founding member of the Save Croydon Libraries campaign and trustee of Speak Up For Libraries."