Friday, 24 October 2014

London libraries news; Barnet, Bexley, Greenwich & Wandsworth.

There's been lots happening to London libraries recently;

Barnet

Earlier this week firm proposals emerged that could lead to the further decimation of the library service in the Borough.
The 3 options put forward by the council are;

"Option one proposes keeping the same number of libraries open. The service would focus on four key libraries – Chipping Barnet, Hendon, and the new libraries in Church End and Colindale.
Other library buildings would be reduced in size, to around 540sq ft on average, and space would be let out for commercial use. The report states it is “likely” that a number of libraries would move.
Staff hours would be reduced to half of the current opening hours. However, more would be made of technology to keep libraries open outside staffed hours, including online ordering.
Option two suggests closing Burnt Oak, Childs Hill, Mill Hill, East Finchley, Osidge and South Friern libraries.
The remaining libraries would be staffed for 60 per cent of their current opening hours. Opening hours would also be increased, using technology to allow access from 7am to 10pm, outside staffed times.
Option three suggests closing East Barnet and Childs Hill libraries, and offering East Finchley, Edgware, Mill Hill and South Friern libraries to be run by volunteers as ‘community libraries’. The space in each would be reduced, and the libraries could move.
Hendon, Burnt Oak, Chipping Barnet, Church End, Golders Green, Colindale, North Finchley and Oside libraries would be staffed for 50 per cent of the current opening hours. Opening hours would be increased through new technology from 7am to 10pm, outside staffed times."
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11548261.Options_laid_out_for_future_of_Barnet_s_libraries/

So a smorgasbord of cuts, relocation, collocation, volunteers and staffless self-service 'libraries', if you can call such a thing a library?!
(see http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/unstaffed-libraries-contradiction-in.html and  http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/a-library-solution-without-staff.html)

As you would imagine Barnet Unison is up in arms about this latest 're-organisation' (cynical management speak that means cuts)

"Proposals for the library service also suggest extending opening hours by leaving libraries unstaffed, which Unison said would put the safety of the public at risk.
Unison said: “Staff opening and closing the library at the beginning and end of unstaffed hours will also be put at extra risk.
“Until we have evidence from the council, Unison believe unstaffed libraries pose a great danger to our members, our other colleagues and to the general public.”
The union also questioned whether the reorganisation of libraries would save money, or whether unstaffed hours would make thefts more likely.
Making greater use of volunteers to help run the service was also questioned, a move Unison claimed would put the libraries at risk of “eventual closure”.
The letter added: “Nationally it is far from being proved that volunteer-managed libraries have the staying power to operate in the long term once initial enthusiasm and funding dwindles or ceases.”
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11552077.___Great_concern____expressed_over_future_of_Barnet___s_libraries/

Oh and library staff were only given 30 minutes consultation time on these proposals and Union stewards were hampered in their attempts to represent members, shameful conduct by an administration that's shown nothing but contempt for its workforce and residents.


Greenwich

On the 14/10/14 Greenwich library workers took strike action against Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), the so-called 'Social Enterprise' that runs the library service there and in Wandsworth.

"The dispute is about staffing - there are at least 12 unfilled posts and GLL are proposing to cut more. In addition, GLL are refusing to commit to pay any eventual NJC award to TUPE staff transferred over from the Council."
http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/londonandeastern/londoneasternnews/100-strike-tunrout-of-unite-members-in-greenwich-library-service/

The strike was called by Unite and all 86 of their members walked out, a 100% success, well done to Onay Kasab, regional officer, and everyone involved. They are planning 2 more days of action on the 30th and 31st of October 2014.

Wandsworth

Wandsworth Library which only re-opened in 2009 after a £1.5m re-development could be moved to a new building next door if the council gets its way. The library is currently located in a grade 2 listed building which the council wants to flog to the highest bidder. The council are spinning the move saying that the new building is part of the regeneration of the area and will have a cafe which will attract more people, but it looks as if this is just another case of selling the family silver.
All this after a document written by the local tories was leaked outlining massive cuts including proposals to close non-town centre libraries, well well!


Bexley

Bexley Council is proposing to hand 4 of its smaller libraries over to volunteers or "community focussed organisations" and focus its resources on 6 of it's larger town-centre libraries, sadly this a pattern taking place up and down the country. The nonsense spouted by councils in these situations is sickening and cynical, Bexley are calling their volunteer model 'co-operative libraries' whilst Sheffield are calling theirs 'Associate Libraries'.
Who do they think they are kidding? They conduct sham consultations then try to hoodwink the public with doublespeak, it's a disgrace.






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