Monday, 2 May 2016

The feeling's not mutual and Staffless in Calne?

 Library Mutuals

In case you missed it another big library service spun-out from public control recently, Devon Libraries is now 'Libraries Unlimited'. And according to their website 'Libraries Unlimited' is;

"a new and independent staff and community-owned social enterprise, established in April 2016 with the support of Devon County Council. We are a company limited by guarantee with charitable status pending. Our formally registered name is Libraries Unlimited South West."

They were widely congratulated on social media, by the government and members of the Taskforce mainly, and will now join Suffolk, York and Dudley (2016?) in the brave new world of spun-out library services.
But it appears that not is all what it seems in 'Maude's Mock Mutuals Bargain Land', my Voices for the Library colleague Ian Clark, in response to a tweet stating that the Suffolk 'mutual' was "thriving", recently found out via an FOI that Suffolk (much touted by Sieghart etc) has seen a decrease in usage and by just looking at York's performance figures (issues & visits) anyone can see that there's been a decrease in usage in nearly all of York's branches, the Central Library and the Mobile service seem to be propping up the stats. I'll admit that it's still early days and usage stats aren't everything but I'm sure you'll agree that a drop in usage is hardly a definition of thriving.
Mutulisation in the public sector is really no more than a gun to the head for most employees, the "run it or we'll close it" blackmail threat unloved of most library 'volunteers'. I wish staff and users well but really can't endorse or approve of this risky & unaccountable method of privatisation. For more on the governments mutuals agenda see my earlier post

Staffless in Calne 

Well done to Calne Labour Party et al for putting up such a spirited fight against the introduction of staffless opening hours in their local library. 

"Members of the newly formed Calne Labour Party handed out leaflets outside the library on Saturday (Feb 13) to protest the reduction of staff hours.
Oliver Boaler, co-founder of the party, said: “Staff are essential to the library’s smooth running. They not only help library users choose books, use the computers and deal with queries, their supervision means the library always feels safe and is kept tidy.
“I worry about someone having a fall or somebody causing damage. A response to this wouldn’t be quick enough with the use of CCTV.” 

Similar concerns have also been raised by Unison and library campaigners in Barnet, see;

see also;


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