Monday, 31 January 2011

It’s laptops at dawn in the hunt for the missing million

Written by Fiona Kirton and Sara Clay

Release: Immediate 31.01.10

    National expert briefs Somerset councillors on how to save £1.35 million without closing 11 libraries or reducing hours

    Britain’s leading expert on how to run libraries has met with Somerset County Councillors in a bid to rescue the remaining eleven at-risk libraries.

    Somerset's high-profile library campaign caught the attention of national libraries campaigner Tim Coates, who offered his services free of charge to brief Councillors.

    Tim Coates, formerly managing director of Waterstone's and WH Smith (Europe), is now best known as an advocate for improvements to the UK public library service. He met County councillors, officers and local campaigners on Friday (28 January) at the Abbey Retreat House, Glastonbury.

    Tim had three key recommendations for Somerset's Library Service. First, reduce costs substantially on backroom services rather than closing libraries. Second, make sure that the published figures are clear and complete. And third, at the same time as reducing back office costs, improve the frontline with more new books, longer hours and smarter premises.

    Crucial to Somerset campaigners, Tim advised that in order to reduce library funding by £1.35 million, as planned, the Council should reduce expenditure on “non-front-line” activities, rather than close libraries.

    This can be done, he said, by streamlining management structure, and empowering librarians to buy books directly, saving substantially on central purchasing and distribution costs. For example, a book that cost 50p to produce, might cost £1 to the wholesaler, and £5.99 in the shop. The same book going through a council purchasing system will cost £20 to put on the shelf, because it has to go through so many hands.

    More than half of the county’s £7.5 million library budget is spent on such back-office services. Tim noted that just over £1 million of that figure had not been included in the consultation document. This was an internal “topslice”, covering the library service’s share of the costs of Human Resources, Finance Department, legal services and other core functions at County Hall.
    Whether that “missing million” should have been included in the total published for the consultation is a matter of contention. This issue is central to Tim’s recommendation for “clear, consistent, complete and comprehensible” figures, to enable councillors to make informed decisions.

    Terry Clay, from Friends of Glastonbury Library (FOGL), has been working with Tim on the figures. He said, "The library officers have said this externally imposed administration charge was not published in the consultation document, because they had no control over it and it would confuse matters. I am more confused by it not being included.”

    Richard Chisnall (FOGL) is hopeful of a positive outcome from the briefing. “The councillors appeared to be listening receptively,” he said. “Tim Coates has recommended a new radical way of thinking which would allow Somerset to keep all of its libraries open, whilst staying within budget constraints. This is in line with recommendations from Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles.”
    County officers and key portfolio holders have agreed to meet again with Tim Coates and Terry Clay – laptops at the ready – to settle the matter of the “missing million” and agree a baseline set of figures on which to plan for the future.

    - END -

     PHOTO CAPTION (if any): Glastonbury mayor John Coles (left) welcomes library expert Tim Coates.

    Notes to Editors.

    1. According to CIPFA (Chartered Institute Of Public Finance Accounts) Somerset library funding totalled £7.5m; the total published in the consultation document was £6.5m, excluded the topslice, and was based on a different 12-month period.

    2. Terry Clay has requested a breakdown of how the additional £1.1m of council administration costs has been broken down, but has not yet received it.


    4. Tim Coates believes the Somerset library campaign has national implications. “I call upon and challenge the library profession, the Government and council officers to support this call to Somerset County Council and make similar analysis in other places,” he wrote in his blog following the briefing. “It is unlikely that there is a need to close a library anywhere for financial reasons in order to meet the requirements of deficit recovery."

News updates

US firm ‘can save county’s libraries’

Threatened libraries across Oxfordshire can be kept running with council cash if they are managed by a private company, an American outsourcing firm said.
Stuart Fitzgerald, vice president of Library Systems & Services UK, said his firm could keep open some or all of the 20 branches and save millions for OCC.

Vital community hubs

 Thursday 27th January 2011
Sir – CPRE Oxfordshire would like to express its concern about the effect of proposed county council cuts in services on rural areas of the county. We are particularly worried by the proposed closure of 20 smaller libraries, 15 of which are situated in villages. Five of the libraries proposed for closure: Benson, Berinsfield, Chinnor, Sonning Common and Woodcote, are among the 12 larger villages designated in South Oxfordshire’s Core Strategy as centres for services for the rural population.
These centres are strategically located so that no resident has to travel more than five kilometres to access these services.

Surely the two administrative bodies OCC and SODC should be working together on such matters? Provision of services in the rural parts of the county is often very poor.
Having been involved in the consultation on future provision of bus services in the county, we know that many routes will see cuts and some may be axed altogether.

Access to the libraries in the large towns will become more difficult for families without cars or for older people. We are urging the county council to reconsider the proposals to close libraries.
We understand that it may be necessary to cut hours and reduce the number of professionals employed and are encouraging the council to take advantage of the proposals in the Localism Bill to avoid total closure. Once closed, it is unlikely that the libraries will ever be re-established in the smaller communities.

Libraries are not just places to borrow books, but act as vital hubs for the rural community and we are not confident that a modern, efficient library can be or should be reliant on what may be a very small and technologically inexperienced pool of volunteers lacking professional training.
Dr Helena Whall, Campaign manager, CPRE Oxfordshire

An open letter to Oxfordshire County Council's CEO

An open letter (19 Jan) from Richard Stevens, Solicitor, and Emma Chamberlain, Barrister, to Joanna Simons, Chief Executive, Oxfordshire County Council, concerning The Council’s statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964copied to Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP, Oxford East; Nicola Blackwood MP, Oxford West & Abingdon; Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Witney; John Howell MP, Henley; Ed Vaizey MP, Wantage; Tony Baldry MP, Banbury

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Foley Hits Out at Library Rumours

Foley Hits Out at Library Rumours
SWINDON’S libraries will all remain open – and should have a hard-core of paid staff working in them.
That was the verdict from the councillor in charge of the town’s libraries, as she declared that each library needs have a paid staff member on the rota – and not just volunteers.

Petition delivered to County Hall

25 January
petitionSave Headington Library Campaign Group member  Sarah Eddie accompanied by Priscilla Goldby who set up the Crown News one delivered a petition to County Hall in Oxford.
Also Sarah met with Council leader Keith Mitchell.

The total was 2,374  - 2,871 if considered alongside the e-petition.

Read-In Event
Please come to a peaceful demonstration as part of National Library Day.

Headington Library5th February

We hope to have a 'reading relay' for children around the reading tree, weather permitting and readings inside the library.

The current paper petition is now closed. The total was: 2,374 signatures. Thank you to everyone who was involved, particularly to Priscilla Goldby who set up the Crown News petition. Priscilla and I presented the petition to the Cabinet on Tuesday.
Letter Writing Campaign
Please write a letter to Keith Mitchell opposing the library cuts and bring it with you to the Read-In. We intend to post them en-masse after the event, at Headington Post Office. Supporters of Summertown library have mounted a similar campaign.

Keith Mitchell

Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
New Road


Representatives from several campaigning groups will meet with Cllrs Darke, Wilkinson and Heathcoat next week.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Could the feed in tarrifs scheme help pay for Headington Library?

Did you know that as a result of the Government's feed in tariffs scheme, both landowners and homeowners could participate in this scheme see

  1. A Proven12.1kW wind turbine can earn between £5,000-£15,000 in annual income depending on location, wind velocity etc. see
  2. While a photovoltaic 3kW system will produce on average 2640kWh per annum which in monetary terms means a payment of £1137.80 each year for 25 years?
Perhaps Bury Knowle Park could be the location of a couple of wind turbines and the roofs of the various buildings in the park could be covered in solar cells. No doubt such a solution could help contribute a signigficant portion of the funding needed to run Headington Library. It would also help in the ffight against global warming.
See also
For local Oxford example see

Friday, 28 January 2011

Library closures: Oxford Save Our Services calls on campaigners to resist ‘Big Society’ solutions

January 2011
Oxford Save Our Services (SOS) is a broad and inclusive group in Oxford concerned about cuts to public services. We are working closely with local library and friends’ groups to campaign against the closure of 20 of the county’s libraries.
We call on library campaigners to reject County Council plans for voluntary groups to run libraries at risk of closure. The Council expects to cease funding those libraries and plans to ask local groups to bid for one-off grants to run libraries with volunteers and without public funding.
There has been unprecedented public support from ordinary people of many ages, backgrounds and political persuasions for the library campaigns. Hundreds of people have attended meetings to support their local libraries in Botley and Headington. Last week, over 300 people packed the Town Hall for a meeting against library closures. There were representatives from many local campaigns. They all insisted that the libraries be maintained on a public basis. 
Meanwhile, the Oxford Civic Society has revealed just how impractical it will be for voluntary societies to find the necessary funding, expertise and commitment to run a library (‘Hard Figures: We put the likely expense of running threatened branches under microscope’, Oxford Mail, Monday 24 January 2011).
Prominent children’s author Philip Pullman has condemned the idea of communities bidding against one another (see
Another renowned Oxfordshire author Mary Hoffman, whose local library in Bampton is at risk, has called on those opposing the library closures to ‘never be drawn into the argument about what could be cut in order to pay for libraries, and to have no part in the bids for Council support to run the libraries on a volunteer basis’ (see
To express rejection of the County Council’s cynical strategy of divide-and-rule, local library campaigns should collectively refuse to bid for ‘Big Society’ grants, and stand together with all other library campaigns. Instead local groups should respond to the County Council’s consultation by restating that libraries should remain a publicly funded service.
Oxford SOS spokesperson, Peter Lefort commented: ‘Public services are an absolutely essential part of our community and vital to the lives of thousands of people. They cannot be bid for, dividing the people of Oxford, but must be fought for. To try to turn the cuts into a 'Big Society' gameshow shows how fundamentally the County Council does not understand its responsibilities for services.’
For further details, contact Stephanie Kitchen, Save Our Services,, 07966 045144.
About Oxford Save Our Services
Oxford Save Our Services is an open group of Oxford residents defending our public services. We are concerned that the unprecedented cuts to public services, as proposed by the coalition government, will cause irreversible damage to our community and target the poorest and most vulnerable.
It is supporting groups come together as a community to take action before it is too late to prevent the end of public and voluntary services we all use every day.
Oxford Save Our Services are local residents, are not affiliated to any political party, and have no party political agenda. We simply believe that these cuts are unnecessary and are an attack on public services like hospitals and schools that we all rely on. We also firmly believe that people do change politics, and that we can do it again, if we work together.

Oxford Save Our Services

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

What the County Should Cut

When money is being cut, it is important to look at our priorities.
There are many other things the County Council could cut instead of attacking our libraries.
The public has made it clear that it overwhelmingingly opposes the proposed library closures. Now we need to agree on alternative ways to trim the County budget so that no libraries need to be closed.
Only a few months ago, a report by the Tax-Payers' Alliance criticized Oxfordshire County Council for spending money on unnecessary jobs. Among these are political advisors, diversity officers and climate change officials.
According to the TPA the total cost of those was £588,394 in the year 2009/2010. The County Council said that the real cost was £268,837, but even that would be more than enough to finance Headington library for a year!
What do political advisors do? Surely anyone employed the County council should be educated enough to do their job advised by the senior personnel in the hierarchy, without an additional advisor. The same goes for diversity officers. It is surely enough to inform all employees at the outset how to follow good practise in the matter of equal opportunities. It's nothing new after all. As for climate change officials, since the exposure of the frauds on the website of the University of East Anglia, fewer and fewer people believe in climate change at all. Why do we need a salaried official to tell us to switch lights off or wear a jumper instead of keeping the heating on all the time? It's not a professional job. None of these occupations need a professional level of skills. But they are paid very lavish professional salaries.
In many cases these silly jobs were created by EU legislation demanding that we take visible steps to promote this or that agenda. The result is that other things, more important things, suffer. The money gets shifted sideways from the essential to the non-essential. If we don't conform to EU legislation, we get huge fines, See
(Yes, that does say a billion, it is not a misprint).
Even if you regard the jobs listed as useful, surely the vast majority of supporters of this campaign will agree that libraries are a higher priority.
Those who imagine that we can still, at this stage, avoid any reductions in the County Budget are not being realistic. The reality is that we have to make choices. So if you want to be heard, write to your county councillors and don't just tell them what you want to keep - tell them what you think needs to be cut.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Headington Residents sign petition against proposed closure of Headington Library

Photos taken at various Headington locations last Saturday morning. Photos provided by kind permission of DENIS and LYNDA HAYWARD

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Contacting Save Headington Library Campaign

To contact us : email

James Donigan writes in support of 'Save Headington Library’

Dear Save Headington Library,

I would like to offer my full support to ‘Save Headington Library’ and commend you for the action you are taking.

Headington has undergone a period of improvement and the local services, schools and amenities have made the area attractive to many people.

That the local library is under threat seems regressive and is damaging to an area where such a facility is invaluable to the residents.

Good Luck with your campaign.

Yours Sincerely,

James Donigan 

Friday, 21 January 2011

North East Area Meeting 18th Jan

Good turn out of City and County Councillors who all spoke in favour of libraries, making the expected comments. Simon Kearney a Council Officer presented the Council’s position, making a great deal about the consultation process which is going to take place AFTER the budget is set in Feb. I asked for clarification about the consultation and he confirmed our concerns that the consultation is about community bids not the original decision.

Cllr. Roy Dark, said it was important for the 4 County Councillors to work together with volunteers to submit bids for community libraries, so we could get our share of the monies which have been set aside to support these groups. (£600K set aside, but this is not just for libraries it’s for youth services and all the other things that are getting cut, our share for a community library would be small) He then asked for volunteers from the room and said he would arrange a meeting with Cllr. Heathcote to discuss a bid. No volunteer raised their hand. But then no announcement was made that he would be making that statement. I said, and I hope it is in their minutes, that they were bullying and pressuring us into making a community bid when we still want the original decision discussing. Judith Heathcote has said the library closures are a proposal, see the response I got from her to my questions about the legal issues.

In the Open Session Alexander Babkovitch went through detailed observations and suggestions about ways of saving money and reducing the library running costs, but no one was listening. Keith Mitchell has continually asked for suggestions about ways to save money and I’m sure the business brains in our City have plenty of advice but he doesn’t want to hear it, and it’s not our job anyway? Do you remember what happened to the suggestion that £500,000 be cut from from councillors expenses, defeated.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Sylvia Vetta writes to Keith Mitchell

Dear Councillor Mitchell

As your Councillors and Officers have proved unwilling to give us the detailed financial information with which to come up with alternative proposals for making the required savings in the library budget, we have turned our attention to the unintended consequences. At the heart of your proposal is the idea that good public transport links will make it easy for library users to visit hub libraries like Oxford Central.

Have you forgotten about the cost of the free bus pass scheme? From April 1st the bus pass scheme will be paid for by the County Council. Using statistics on the ages of library users and figures from the Vale District on the cost of journeys we have calculated that for Kennington library that the extra cost to the county of eligible users transferring to Oxford Central will be £14000. As the net cost of Kennington Library is about £22,000 this appears to indicate that under your current proposals nearly 65% of your expected savings will simply be paid to the Oxford Bus Company. We imagine that a similar calculation could be made for all the libraries earmarked for closure.

We are of the opinion that cutting all libraries by an equal percentage and letting big Society volunteers help ameliorate the effects is the fairest way and judging from the above will make more efficient savings for the County. Or maybe there is something we are missing.. the revenue from selling off buildings like Berinsfield Library?

Len Swartz writes

Dear All:

I write in response to the very admirable Headington library supporters meeting last week which you both addressed, with Ruth referring to our Gourmet Fundraiser programme ( as a possible financial assist to library operational stability. Regarding Ruth's comments about Gourmet Fundraiser being a possible financial help to the libriaries in overcoming the current problems, may I respectfully go further in saying that Gourmet Fundraiser could permanently enable all of the County libraries to attain sufficient financial muscle to dictate their own operational destiny and achieve relative independence from the economic and political pitfalls that we have now, and will undoubtedly experience in the future. While we all hope that the administrative efforts outlined by Richard will forestall the cuts, this will probably take time and is packed with uncertainty as to outcome, as he said. It would therefore seem reasonable to proceed with a parallel plan of action with Gourmet Fundraiser that potentially could independently provide each County library with financial stability notwithstanding the other outcomes, while being free of cost to both the library supporters and the government at all levels. I plan to attend the Thursday 20th Jan meeting at Town Hall and will be happy to discuss the matter with any and all, or I can also be contacted on (01865) 371099.

With best wishes and kindest regards, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Len Swartz

Lynda Hayward writes to Cllr. Mitchell

Dear Cllr. Mitchell
I am a Headington resident and it is my opinion that the proposed changes and restructuring of the Oxfordshire Libraries is in breach of the statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964 because:
• The Council failed to make an assessment of local needs
• The local authority and Chief Officers have not listened to the views of those who use the libraries
• The plans to restructure the library service have been done without consultation and do therefore not meet the needs of the communities which the libraries serve.
• The Council’s view appears to be that it is hard to maintain a large number of small and old libraries
• The Council’s plans appear to have focussed specifically on the issue of asset management and cost saving rather than the need to provide FREE access to books
• Social impact on communities loosing there libraries does not justify the financial saving
• No consideration has been given to the needs of sections of the community living in deprived areas and the housing expansion in some of these areas
• No travel impact assessment was carried out about how older people, disabled, children, young families and the unemployed were going to use and afford transport links to the remaining libraries
• The Council have displayed a lack of logic around why some libraries have been recommended for closure and not others.
• It is very unclear what criteria the Council have used to reach judgements on balancing the need to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that is compliant with the Act
• Oxford and Oxfordshire have a diverse population. For many there is an excellent quality of life with access to good housing, schooling, leisure and employment opportunities. For others there is unemployment, low skills level, poor housing, anti-social behaviour. The restructuring will mean it is harder for people to escape their social class and have aspirations for the kind of advancement that reading can provide for them.
• Closure of libraries would mean not only a loss of books but the removal of FREE access to computers, internet and information necessary for up skilling people so they can enter the work place, in homes where there are limited resources.
• The elderly, disabled and unemployed will have their convenient access to FREE books removed, little consideration being given to the most vulnerable in our communities
• Children (of a certain age) can have independent use of local libraries which they will not have when local libraries close
• Additional travelling costs and time will effect library use when local libraries close
• Adequate library provision at a local level is key to improving educational opportunities and raising standards. The plans show little regard for the needs of children who are already suffering because of the educational cuts which are having an impact on resources in schools
• Libraries play an important role in supporting learning and reducing barriers to learning particularly for those pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds
I apologise for any items where I have made wrong assumptions but this has arisen from the Council’s lack of transparency during this whole process.

I would appreciate your comments on these matters.

Lynda Hayward

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A few thoughts about the proposed closure of Headington Library

I am sure you all agree libraries are part of the foundation of our culture; they are vital to Headington as the local post office, school, hospital and church.

This barbaric act to close Headington Library is an attack against our civilization and our individual liberties. I must mention the role Headington Library plays for the visually impaired user, do they expect such users to make their way to the Central Library?

Headington must rise up and form an active community group to fight this barbaric policy, and we have the full support of Headington’s many writers, including Peter Hitchens and Brian Aldiss.

Headington Library plays a vital part in the process of improving social mobility, peoples opportunities to learn, find new jobs and grow.

Abolishing Headington Library means turning Headington into a cultural and learning desert for its residents.

We must fight back against the council and government to preserve our freedom to learn and appreciate Oxford’s culture.

Nicholas Newman

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Protest Letter to Keith Mitchell

Public Meeting a great success!

Last night's meeting at St.Andrew's School was a great success, an estimated 300 people crowded the meeting hall. Speakers from all over Headington spoke at this meeting from a teacher at Baynards School in Barton to well-known writer Peter Hitchens.

Save Headington Library Campaign Group briefed the audience about the issues behind the proposed closure of Headington Library. Councillors including Roy Darke and Roz Smith were invited to speak and answer questions.

In addition, the audience was briefed about the legal options to appeal against the County Council's closure proposals.

At the end of the meeting, people were invited to join Save Headington Library Campaign Group.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Could Headington Library be part of World Book Night?

On Saturday, March 5th there is an event called World Book Night, and – on one night – a million books will be given away free by 20,000 ‘givers’, from a list of 25 titles. There’s a website where you can register to give books away:

Headington Library could participate by being one of the locations to distribute free books if they applied to by January 24th.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Some Legal Questions Against Library Closures

The legal basis of local authority library services in England is the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which says that, "It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof".

The Act goes on to list some of the considerations which local authorities need to consider when satisfying themselves that their provision is "comprehensive and efficient". One of these is "encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service". This in itself is a significant objection to the Conservatives' proposals. As with many other proposed cuts (like the cuts to Oxfordshire's youth service), the withdrawal of substantial library provision will unfairly affect children and young people. Children don't have independent access to transport. (And, of course, they can't vote, which might explain why children and young people have been disproportionately targeted by the Coalition's spending review.) It will become much more difficult for young people in, say, Blackbird Leys, Headington or Summertown to make full use of the library service if local facilities are shut.

The fundamental question is how the Conservatives can claim that cutting almost half the libraries in Oxfordshire will leave the county with a "comprehensive" service. Culture minister (and Oxfordshire MP) Ed Vaizey has placed the emphasis on an "efficient" rather than a "comprehensive" library service in a letter to author and campaigner Alan Gibbons: "When the funding available decreases it is inevitable that to stay efficient authorities will need to make changes to their library service," he wrote.

This is a telling interpretation, equating as it does "efficiency" with "cost". It is also, I think, wrong. Read in the context of the Act as a whole, "efficient" arguably refers not simply to the cost of the service, but to the usefulness and ease of accessing the resources of a library. It also rather pre-judges the issue and it remains to be seen whether Ed Vaizey's comments (as they have been reported) are entirely consistent with the application of the 1964 Act.

Cllr Richard Stevens
Leys & Lye Division
Oxfordshire County Council

Oxford Lawyer suggests need to take High Court Action!

LIBRARIES: Closures 'could be illegal'
10:10am Saturday 8th January 2011 Oxford Mail

County Council could face a legal challenge in the High Court over plans to cut funding for youth services and libraries. Suggests Oxford Lawyer and Councillor Richard Stevens To read more .

Library League Table

Headington is Oxford's third busiest library!

Oxford City Library League Table

1.Oxford Central Library - 582,900 visits - 676,417 items issued

2.Temple Cowley Library - 196,000 visits - 217,458 items issued

3.Headington Library - 153,350 visits - 136,804 items issued

4.Botley Library - 89,750 visits - 78,825 items issued

5.Blackbird Leys - 21,950 visits - 29,206 items issued

6. Old Marston Library - 7,000 visits - 20,541 items issued

The top twelve libraries for visit figures in Oxfordshire 2009-2010 were as follows:

1.Oxford Central
5.Temple Cowley

various sources including County Librarian Office

Headington Library performance figures and running costs

Headington Library performance figures and running costs

Issues 2009-10
Adults 62,759
Children 67,828
AV 6,217
Total 136,804
Visits 2009-10 153,350

The costs below are expenditure and income figures for the financial year 2009-10. Assumptions arising from them in relation to the potential cost of running the library in future should be made with extreme caution.

The cost profile of running Headington Library may change very significantly under alternative management arrangements. To give an example; the cost to the library service of energy (gas, electricity) is determined by contractual arrangements which secure significant discounts. If alternative proposals included different procurement arrangements for energy supplies, the basis of the associated costs would differ from those noted below.

Please also note the following:

Books: The figure given for books and other material is an estimate. Books are acquired for the county, not for specific libraries and costs are therefore recorded by category of material and not by library (eg. Children’s picture books, adult non fiction). On acquisition, stock will be allocated to a particular library but it will not necessarily remain in that library. In order to make the best use of stock, materials are managed and circulated on a county-wide basis. In addition stock in every library is available for loan to every library member and stock is therefore moving constantly between libraries to meet customer demand. This approach is much more efficient than acquiring and managing stock on a library by library basis. Above all, it means that the resources of the whole library service are available to everyone, unconstrained by the limits of a particular building or service point.

Librarians: The cost of providing librarian support to Headington Library is not included in these in the staffing figure as these costs are not assigned to specific libraries. Each library is supported by a small peripatetic team of librarians operating on a county-wide basis. They manage stock selection and acquisition, advise on stock management, display and promotion. They provide virtual and telephone information services for both library users and staff, advise on and support services for children, young people and families. They provide and support wider reading and learning activities such as reading groups, reading challenges for adults and IT familiarisation courses. These activities are core to the provision of library services in each building but are managed on a county wide basis as this is much more efficient than deploying librarians in each library.

Management: The cost of providing management support to Headington Library is not included in these in these figures as these costs are not assigned to specific libraries Each library is part of a wider geographical group led by a member of the Senior Management Team. These officers support individual libraries on matters of corporate policy and priorities, library policy, priorities and practice, recruitment, training and staff development, health and safety in public buildings, personnel issues, finance, IT facilities and services, service planning and performance, marketing and promotion.

Expenditure 2009/10 for Headington Library

Expenditure Library Service Expenditure £ Property Services expenditure £
On-site staffing 127,284.79 Not applicable
Transport costs 39.20 Not applicable
Electricity 2,039.39 Not applicable
Gas 2,259.14 Not applicable
Water Not applicable Not applicable
Security 860.73 Not applicable
Rent Not applicable Not applicable
Rates Not applicable 6,728.00
Service Charge Not applicable 29,478.00
Other Premises Costs 216.71 Not applicable
Supplies costs (including Stationery, copier rental, telephones) 3,972.92
Not applicable
Books and other materials for loan and reference 30,811.00
Not applicable
Cleaning Not applicable Not applicable

Income (from fees and charges) -17,474.83 Not applicable

Note: does not include Head Office costs

Source: figures obtained from the County Librarian - 7 January 2011

Peter Hitchens visits Headington Library

LIBRARIES: Writer joins battle to save reading
By Chris Walker » in the Oxford Mail Saturday *8 January 2011

AWARD-winning journalist Peter Hitchens said county council plans to abolish funding for almost half of the county’s libraries would see hard-up families barred from the benefits of reading.
to read more
Source of image:

Public meeting at St. Andrews School Headington

Notice: Public meeting at St. Andrews School Headington about the proposed closure of Headington Library on the 11 January 2011 at 8pm.

The agenda will include debate about the decision to close Headington Library and also about possible futures of Headington Library.

Representatives from other interested groups will also be invited.

This meeting will be open to all residents of Greater Headington and users of Headington Library

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Hundreds sign library petition

As of today, 8th January, 341 people have already signed the online petition to save Headington Library at Bury Knowle Park, and 428 people have signed the sister petition to save all the twenty threatened libraries.
More people are signing every day.
That gives this campaign a strong democratic case for facing the council and demanding that no hasty decisions are taken without sufficient time to consider and pursue some alternatives to closure.
I like the letter written by the Kennington campaigners to Mr Vaizey and I suggest that a group of campaigners in Headington write a similar collective letter to him and try to get him involved in this issue.
I note that Ms Nicola Blackwood seems unsympathetic to the cause and hope that this will be remembered next time she is up for election.
It is just not realistic to say that Headington residents can use the Westgate Library. Even if you live very close to a bus stop, the journey can easily take half an hour in each direction, or more for those who live outside the ring road. If you don't live close to a bus stop, you would have to put aside well over one and half hours for a library visit. Busy people cannot find that extra time, those with prams would have to struggle to get them on and off the bus and young children could not go to the library without their parents.
Libraries should not only exist for the city's university students, numerous and welcome though they are. They should be there for the whole population including the less advantaged.
Both of my own children made good use of Bury Knowle Library. I want that amenity to be available for future generations.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A letter to Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture & Sport

Dear Mr Vaizey,
I am writing to you in your position as an Oxfordshire MP and Minister of Culture. The Friends of Kennington Library are aware of your previous support for libraries and your description of the proposed closure of libraries in the Wirral as cultural vandalism.

Grove, in your constituency, is one of the libraries threatened with closure. I have written to Nicola Blackwood, my MP re. the proposed closure of our popular library in Kennington. The Parish Council and Friends of Kennington Library held a public meeting with Councillor Heathcoat and John Jackson who sadly did not answer one direct question. Each time the answer was ‘We haven’t that information’ or ‘At this stage in the consultation process we don’t know.’

John Jackson made it clear that the decision to close 20 libraries was based on the absolute numbers going through the door, regardless of how few hours a small library is open compared to a large one, with no reference to the size of the population served or the square footage of the library. Asked how they calculated the numbers per hour going through the door of small libraries so that an accurate comparison can be made per hour worked by one librarian, he didn’t reply. Asked by a Conservative District Councillor, ‘If the footfall increased would that change the decision?’ again no answer.

After the open part of the meeting I asked Judith and John personally if, as part of the invited consultation, they would consider other means of making the cuts – no answer! To the voters of Kennington and no doubt of Grove too, it seems patently unfair. 25 % cuts across all the library services, as in Hertfordshire, is understandable but closing a library means 100% cut for our community of readers. Our library only costs approximately £19,000 to run.

Mr Jackson seemed to think all our users, like him, could go into Oxford. Councillor Mitchell obviously thinks we are a nuisance because 82% already use the saved hub libraries. We get the impression that Councillor Mitchell has never struggled to get a buggie and two children on buses from Berinsfield or Blackbird Leys: buses that are not free to parents on a minimum wage(not to mention parking and fuel costs). Certainly in Kennington the 24 under -fives who walk to our library in crocodile every Wednesday will not be able to use the hub libraries nor the disabled and frail. At the meeting with Councillor Heathcoat, I took a letter from the Headmistress of our primary school, a letter from the head of the nursery school, signatures of the parent and toddler group parents with their comments, the signatures of the Festival Group – mostly either disabled or over 75. We have the support of the local businesses, the churches, the Parish Council, the Chairman of Kennington Conservative Party -- indeed all the Big Society of our village! I do believe that if the Council’s attitude remains closed to alternative methods of cutting all libraries, rather that this grossly unfair approach, it will have an effect in the ballot box.

Councillor Mitchell claims that if he doesn’t close twenty libraries the cuts will have to come from other services. We are of the firm opinion that the libraries can take a fair share of the cuts without closing 20 – if the cuts are shared equally. If all Oxfordshire libraries are kept within the Oxfordshire network (Galaxy) then a modern library system can be sustained and indeed volunteers can step in to help ameliorate the cuts. To increase spending on hub libraries and close 20 rural and suburban libraries is discriminatory.

Can you use your influence to ask Oxfordshire County Council to look again at their policy and have genuine discussions with Friends Groups as to how we can save the necessary amount of money without this slash and burn policy?

There also seems to be confused and conflicting messages coming from the Department of Communities claiming just 1.69% cut for Oxfordshire and 2.5 % increase in grant if community tax is frozen and £7,000,000 plus in reserve in Oxfordshire and the message we are getting locally.

Below are some of the questions we have tried to get answers to.
1. We understood from the meeting in the Kennington Village Centre that you are required to cut the total Oxfordshire library costs by 25%. Please let us know if this figure is correct, and if not, let us know the correct figure.
2. Where does this figure come from?
3. What will the council not consider as solutions to cost-saving and why?
4 What made you decide to use footfall per library as a suitable measure for choosing libraries to close? (For example, what made you decide not to measure footfall per unit of served population?)
5 Where can we find the raw data that you used to compile the figures? We would also like to know how the data was collected; the margins of error employed by your statisticians; and are the statistics independently verified?
With regards and best wishes
Sylvia Vetta
On behalf of the Friends of Kennington Library
To Contact Ed Vaizey MP
telephone: 020 7219 6350

Let’s help each other to save our libraries

Dear Library Supporters,
I am writing on behalf of The Save Kennington Library Campaign. We are of the opinion that all threatened libraries should work together to persuade the Council to adopt a fairer way of cutting the libraries budget.

If all Oxfordshire libraries are kept within the Oxfordshire network (Galaxy), then a modern library system can be sustained and indeed volunteers can step in to help ameliorate the cuts, and even sponsors, heritage lottery funding etc can be approached to fill the gap. To increase spending on hub libraries and close 20 rural and suburban libraries is discriminatory.

Kennington held a public meeting with Councillor Heathcoat (cabinet member with responsibility for libraries) and John Jackson (administrator- future libraries) neither of them answered any of our questions directly. If you are planning a similar public meeting, do get in touch and we can share information and the questions they failed to answer.

We have a campaign proposal and hope your library supporters may like to join in?
We shall print 15 different letters asking questions of Councillors Mitchell and Heathcoat and will try to get as many individuals in Kennington to sign individual letters. Assuming people are at home when we call, we hope to get 500-1000 signed letters. If every threatened library can do the same, perhaps we can collect 5000-10,000 individual letters that will require a response. (That is the reason for doing it this way rather than a petition.)

A particular time and day needs to be arranged to deliver the signed letters to County Hall with as many supporters as possible in attendance before this is voted through in February. At the campaign meeting to be held in Oxford Town Hall on Thursday 20: 7:30pm, we will ask Philip Pullman if he will spearhead the handover and get the Regional TV news, radio as well as the press to cover it? We think this may be the most visible way to show the strength of feeling on this issue and get maximum publicity. Will your group consider doing a similar thing? We can email copies of letters. But if your group prefers to get up a petition, that can still be delivered at the same time.

What are your plans and ideas? Will you consider coordinating our efforts?
For more info we have a blog spot
To contact us
Paddy Landau- Chairman of the campaign me for the Friends of Kennington Library
Sylvia Vetta