Monday 2 November 2015

Unscheduled closures, paying twice & a critical report; Embarrassing for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce?

More worrying news from Northamptonshire Libraries.

A recent report by ‘Healthwatch Northamptonshire’ has raised concerns regarding the library service delivering U5/family sessions originally delivered by Children’s Centres;

“The key findings in the report are:
* Although libraries are welcoming to families, they do not have the space, facilities, staff, volunteers or expertise to run open access family services.
* Staffing levels are low across all the libraries Healthwatch visited, given the additional functions for libraries.
* Volunteers to run the children’s sessions are difficult to recruit.
* Families that may need help do not appear to be going to either libraries or children’s centres.”

Now this isn’t the first time that concerns have been raised about this, in 2013 the issues of safeguarding and confidentiality popped up;
"libraries aren't the right environment for young family activities (including safeguarding concerns relating to full public access and confidentiality issues)", and some raised worries about accessibility and location.”

and some residents/service users were so concerned about the cuts/changes that they started a petition;
“They fear fewer services provided by children’s centres and more by library staff will leave more families at risk of needing specific help.”

Northamptonshire Libraries have experienced staffing & funding problems over the last 2-3 years with many hours lost to unscheduled closures  and the 'trust' set up to "support" libraries being accused of asking people to pay twice for the service through the introduction of a premium library membership scheme.

“People already have to pay for things twice with the council such as registrations, adult care, now they are being made to pay for libraries twice."

All in all potentially very worrying, and embarrassing, for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce who just happens to be Paul Blantern, the CEO of Northamptonshire County Council!

when Paul was asked on Twitter about the report he replied;

“bluntly this was a report that neither my politicians, children's nor library service give any credence to at all!” 

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