Sunday, 28 May 2017

My initial observations and concerns re proposals to collocate Highgate Library and Jacksons Lane arts centre.

Highgate Library in Shepherds Hill, Haringey, is 110 years old and is housed in a lovely purpose built 'mock tudor' Edwardian building.

A few weeks ago an article appeared in The Stage announcing proposals to "merge" the library with the local Jacksons Lane arts centre.

On the 17/5/17 the 'Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG)' along with local councillors and architect Katy Marks hosted a "a round-table discussion", they then held their AGM on 24/5/17, among those who attended (invited to?) the AGM where the Leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober, the Cabinet Member for Finance & Health, Jason Arthur and architect Katy Marks, so a pretty strong (heavy?) pro-merger presence.
The AGM from what I've been told was a lively affair with some on HLAG, including the Chair, seemingly keen on the proposals and others, including a HLAG committee member and a regular library user not so keen. In fact a vigorous opposition has emerged with a petition, twitter account (@HighgateStays) and FB page being set up. There have also been several articles in the local press.

I'm hoping to attend one of the consultation events taking place on 22/6/17 in order to hear more about the plans and to voice my concerns which at the moment are;

How far gone are the proposals? It seems that a lot of time and effort has been spent on this even before the so-called 'consultation' process has started with an Arts Council funding application submitted and an architect working on a feasibility study.

Is this just another Muswell Hill Library scenario with the council looking to sell off a valuable building?

Is this just another case of a 'third-sector' organisation, Jacksons Lane, muscling in on the cuts ravaged public sector in order to empire build?

What will the library service look like after the 'merger/collocation'? Will the arts centre be the dominant force and will the library end up as a provision and not a fully comprehensive service (a few shelves of books and some PCs with hub/arts staff rather than dedicated library staff)?

I also have serious concerns about the public perception of a library housed in an arts centre, this partly stems from the fact that most library services are linked with leisure/arts/culture rather than education/learning/information and are therefor easier to cut/privatise/undermine.

Anyway I'll try and attend the 'consultation event' on 22/6/17 and then hopefully have a better view of things after that?

For press coverage and further information see:

Fears grow in Highgate over 110-year-old library’s future home

Highgate Library ‘being sacrificed’ in possible move to Jacksons Lane

Architectural Feasibility Study

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Lewisham, Little Free Libraries & GLL/Lambeth/Bromley/Greenwich.


Surprise surprise book lending stats for Lewisham Libraries have fallen by 45% (1,146,461 books issued in 2009/10 and 635,065 in 2015/16), this is what happens when you hollow-out, deprofessionalise & privatise/amateurise your service.

Little Free Libraries

Two Canadian Librarian/academics have just published a very interesting paper on the trademarked 'Little Free Libraries' (LFL) movement/business, apparently they're not just innocent little 'twee' book boxes, well who would have thought? Well me for one as their take on things mirrors my concerns about and experiences of the LFL movement in the UK. Oh and I even get a mention at the end of the paper, which is nice :-)
And before you read it (and please please read the whole thing) remember that it was published in 'The Journal of Radical Librarianship'!


Ah! GLL again, don't you just love this cheeky charitable SocEnt! Private Eye report that their Lambeth 'library/gyms' plans were at an advanced state only days after the official consultation finished!
GLL are also trying to sink their teeth into Bromley Libraries but Unite Regional Organiser, Onay Kasab along with community activists have got them in their sights and are leading a spirited fightback against proposals to privatise libraries there.
And GLL/Greenwich Council again with another article about footfall figures, i'm afraid i tend to take these kind of stories/figures with a pinch of salt especially when it comes to GLL/Greenwich as you can see by my blog post from a couple of years ago.