Monday, 27 December 2010

Headington Library Questions

Here are some suggested questions to ask the decision makers behind the proposals to cut library services.

I. Fiscal Questions
The Headington Library financial considerations up to the year 2015.
1) Have you considered library use beyond 2015?
2) Are you making permanent strategic proposals about the library service based on no more than four years' forward planning?
3) What would be the fiscal saving to the County Council of closing Headington Library?
4) The proposal does not include any schemes about reducing library expenditure other than closing libraries. What was the logic for not suggesting other measures to reduce library expenditure (such as, for instance, reducing opening hours)?
5) The Oxford Mail reports that the proposals are intended to save £2million over the four years 2011 to 2015. Is this correct?
6) Are there plans to restore library services once the economy has recovered?

II. Public Service Questions
The proposals suggest extended electronic library services.
1) How will this benefit people who do not have access to the internet at home, including those who currently rely on Headington Library for internet access?
2) How will these new services affect those who are sight impaired and or mobility impaired who rely on audio books, given that only a small proportion of books are available in eBook format, also many eBooks do not have the text to speech option enabled?
3) What usage figures have been used in formulating the proposals?
4) What are the usage figures for Headington Library?
5) How can these usage figures be made available to users of Headington Library?
6) What was the rationale behind the welcome proposal to keep open Cowley Library, in contrast to the other suburban Oxford city libraries?

III. Economic Development Questions
Public transport link were a factor in formulating the proposals.
I. What public transport figures have been used?
II. Is this based on current provision of public transport, or does it include potential public transport provision in the future?
III. What negative impact will closure of urban libraries such as Headington Library have on the local economy in terms of property values, economic activity, environment, social mobility, traffic and congestion?

IV. Legal Questions
How does the County Council library service proposal differ from statutory duties described in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964?
A. What opportunities of appeal are open to library users and residents?
B. When does the period of consultation begin and when does it end?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas and New Year!

Save Headington Library Group wishes all its members and supporters a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Peter Skinner MEP writes in support of Headington Library

I write to express my support for the campaign to prevent the closure of
Oxford's Headington library.

Information and the written word is such a vital resource for people's
leisure time, careers and knowledge of current affairs. Access to these
resources is key, and what better way than through our public libraries.
Not everybody has access to the internet, and the fastest and best way of
accessing the information people need is still through the local library.

Good luck with your campaign!

Peter Skinner, Member of the European Parliament for the South-East
99 Kent Road
Kent DA1 2AJ

Tel/fax: 01322 270345

Save Headington Library Group Public Meeting -Date For Your Diary

A public meeting is to be held at:
St.Andrews School, London Road, Headington

Time: 8pm
Date: Tuesday 11 January 2011

To discusss the future of Headington Library, Bury Knowle Park, Headington.

Local politicans including city and county councillors will be invited, together with representatives of local interested groups.

For further information contact Editor At
member of the Save Headington Library Group

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Letter from the County Librarian

Letter from the County Librarian Caroline Taylor (.pdf format, 52Kb)
You can comment on the proposals in a number of ways. You can:

email us at
write to the County Librarian at Oxfordshire Libraries, Community Services, Holton, Oxford OX33 1QQ
contact us in any other way that suits you.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Ways of Funding the Library

We must be prepared to consider altenative ways of funding the library that do not depend on a miracle.

One possiblity is advertising.
At the moment libraries do not permit private advertisements on their premises. Yet they already permit leaflets for theatre, music and opera, all of which run on a commercial basis, so what is the ideological objection?

What about letting local people who run ballet classes, drama classes, music classes, language classes, riding schools etc put up adverts for a charge of perhaps £50 per year, which would provide some income? Of course all advertising would have to be vetted to make sure it was acceptable to the majority of library users. But I don't see why things like restaurants should not advertise. The advertisers would have the satisfaction of knowing that their money was going to help keep the library open.

At the J.R. they have a notice-board where you can advertise rooms to rent etc for 50p per week. The board is glazed over and if you pay you know the card will remain there for seven days. I don't know how much money the hospital gains from that, but it's worth asking.

Secondly, there are already public libraries in the UK which get Lottery Funding. My friend STephanie Jenkins tells me that to qualify for this, libraries have to show that they are making an effort to really extend their usefulness right into the whole community. Details here:
Of course in the present blood-bath of cuts, a lot of applications will be going in. I suggest that we form a committee to prepare a proper application and make a list of people who are willing to volunteer to commit to doing something towards making the bid plausible.

Has anyone in this campaign got any experience making applications for Lottery funding? Come forward, please!

It is very heartening to see that 211 people have already signed the online petition to save Headington Library and I am confident that the one thing we won't lack is public support.
Julia Gasper.

Andrew Smith MP writes in support of Headington Library!

“I would like to voice my strong support for the campaign to keep Headington, and other libraries, open.

Our libraries are literally centres of learning for the local community. They mean so much to local culture and the local quality of life. It concerns me that older people and children would be particularly hard hit by closure.

Shortly after I heard about the proposal I went to the library to have an informal word with the staff on duty. It must be such a worrying time for them.

I am heartened by the large number of letters and emails I have received opposing the library’s closure.

I am taking up all representations with the County Council. With my colleagues on the Council, I will do my level best to persuade its leadership to think again. I am proud of the way the community is rallying round the library, and will do all I can to try to save it.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - with Headington Library intact and serving the community.”

Andrew Smith MP

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Saturday, 18 December 2010

David Norbrook, English Faculty, Oxford University

"If a person could not walk from Headington or Cowley to the Central Library to get a book, he did not deserve one" (reported remark of committee member, early 1930s, on the proposal to open branch libraries in Oxford, quoted at

At least we can now get a bus. But what's happening at so many levels feels like a wilful return to the values of the 1930s, including major cuts in universities as well as libraries. As current policies aim to turn higher education more and more into narrowly vocational courses, it's especially important to encourage the grass roots of the best education in the kind of serendipitous browsing and independent reading that libraries make possible. And we are so fortunate to have a library in a settting that makes visiting it such a natural part of family activities.

David Norbrook, English Faculty, Oxford University

Over 160 people turned up at public demo to support library despite the snow

Friday, 17 December 2010

The Iris Project

Local educational charity The Iris Project, which works to enhance and enrich literacy and language learning through Latin and Classics in east Oxford state schools and communities, offers its wholehearted support for the campaign to save Headington's Bury Knowle Library.

As a charity set up to promote and enhance children's love of languages, reading and literature, and to give these opportunities to children from all backgrounds, access to books and environments where books are cherished and celebrated is central to our work and aims. A local library is a place where children can discover new worlds of wonder, imagination and knowledge which will shape their whole lives, and to deprive them of this is something we find deeply devastating, and detrimental to all the work we are doing in local schools. We therefore implore the Oxfordshire County Council to rethink their plans, and to support local libraries and their vital roles in communities"


The Iris Project works with disadvantaged children in regions of Oxford. It has a website at, and it runs various initiatives which promote learning Classical languages and culture in state schools, particularly those which have high numbers of children on free school meals. Currently, the charity runs two major projects in Oxford. One teaches Latin in schools in Blackbird Leys, Cowley and Barton as part of the literacy curriculum, where the subject improves basic literacy skills and promotes a love of languages. The other is an ancient Greek and drama project, where children from these regions have the opportunity to learn about ancient Greek and Classical drama through workshops, and perform on a professional stage.

Evaluation of the projects has shown that the Latin teaching enhances literacy and language skills, as well as promoting a range of other aspects such as confidence and communication skills. The drama projects similarly enhance communication and confidence amongst participating children, as well as introducing the professional stage and aspects of theatre.

The charity also publishes a termly Classics magazine, Iris, which is sent free to state schools and libraries across the city. It is launching a primary version of the magazine, Iota, in January 2011.

Dr Lorna Robinson
Director, The Iris Project
Registered Charity No. 1121868

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Save Headington Library Campaign Reported in Oxford Mail and Times

Today, Oxford Mail and times reporter Chris Walker writes about the Save Headington Library Campaign see 'Library is a lifeline, say protesters'

To read news report see link below
Regards Nicholas Newman Editor

Bury Knowle Library is 8th most well used library in the County and the 3rd most well used in the city.

Dear All,
I will work in whatever way to support Bury Knowle library from protest to constructive consideration of ideas to keep this important local facility open including partnership and community-led options. I am also acutely aware that library staff jobs are under threat and that community-led proposals will face a moral dilemma where volunteers could be doing work that were previously held by County employees. Nor does the 'Big Society' idea seem to take account of the skills and capabilities entailed in librarianship and in other public sector jobs currently at risk.

BKL is 8th most well used library in the County and the 3rd most well used in the city.

It is not clear how the Tory administration in County Hall has come to the proposals they released a couple of weeks ago which suggests about half the library service will be cut. I am working with a Headington resident who has prepared a cost benefoit analysis of the proposed closure which suggests that the long-term loss could be many times higher when costed out than to current cost of running the library. It is that aspirational / visionary benefit which should be borne in mind when such decisions are taken rather than the bean-counting approach which now threatens the service.

I could say more about the ideological basis of the huge cuts being inflicted on local government by the Con-Dem coalition at this time but readers can work that out for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

And, of course, I am equally concerned about proposed closure of Old Marston library.

Roy Darke
County Councillor for Headington / Marston division

Invest in our libraries

Sir – It was heartening to read so many letters protesting the proposed closure of local libraries. We will indeed fight these plans, ‘every inch of the way’ (Letters, Oxford Mail & Times, December 9).

I can add only this to what has already been so eloquently said: if the council and the Government need to save money, then they need to keep the local libraries open.

The libraries are fundamental to our health. If we want to reduce social isolation, exclusion, bad parenting, obesity, depression and anxiety; if we want to raise standards in schools and colleges; if people are to get back to work; if we want the economy to grow; if we are to be engaged and well-informed citizens, we need to keep our libraries local, and we need to keep them open. If we want to cut costs in public health, in education, in tackling anti-social behaviour and crime, then we need to invest in our libraries.

We are deep in a recession; the public purse is shrinking. We cannot afford to close our libraries now.

Dr Tessa Roynon, Lecturer in English, St Peter’s College, Oxford

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

"Bury Knowle library is one of the most beautiful public libraries in England!

"Bury Knowle library is one of the most beautiful public libraries in England, thanks to its sylvan setting in an exceptionally handsome building. It must have helped thousands of children to learn to love books.

It is one of those institutions that makes Oxford different from anywhere else, a tranquil corner reserved for thought and imagination in a world largely given over to crassness and noise. I understand that there is less money about than there was, but I cannot believe that the local authority is unable to think of anything else to cut, given its top-heavy, amply-rewarded bureaucracy. It is a sign of irresponsibility and short-sightedness among officers and councillors that they should even have considered closing such an irreplaceable asset. "

Peter Hitchens, author and journalist.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

What you can do to save Headington Library

You can write, phone, email and lobby the following people:

PM David Cameron, MP for Witney

Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Minister in charge of libraries

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East

Sign our e-petition

Add your comments of support to this website.

For further information contact Nicholas Newman Editor at

You can also email Caroline Taylor the County Librarian
at or you write to Oxfordshire Libraries, Community Services, Holton, Oxford OX33 1QQ.

New E-Petition launched to save all Oxfordshire's Libraries

We the undersigned petition the council to reconsider the proposal to close twenty public libraries in and around Oxfordshire.

The proposal from the County Council is sudden and without consultation. It was not mentioned at any local government election as an official policy. Many county councillors and a large section of the public oppose it. We believe that the County actually has an obligation to provide libraries for the community and this is a matter of spending priorities. The amount of money saved by closing all these libraries together is a tiny percentage of the County Council's overall budget.

Started by: Julia Gasper

On reaching 9 signatures An officer will investigate the matter further

This ePetition runs from 14/12/2010 to 13/01/2011.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Headington Library Demonstration

All are invited to next Saturday's public demonstration against the proposed closure of our local library. The event will take place outside the frontdoor of Headington Library in Bury Knowle Park at 11 am 18th December 2010.

Nicholas Newman Editor

The County Council evidently has no regard for the quality of life of local people.

It's really good to see a campaign going to save Bury Knowle library and I look forward to the protest meeting this coming Saturday.

The County Council evidently has no regard for the quality of life of local people. Libraries are an irreplaceable resource for old and oung alike. For some elderly people they help break through isolation, for kids and school and college they are a quiet place to study (some, unfortunately, cannot easily fuind anywhere else) and for all children they are a gateway to the joy of books and stories. As I've found out as a school governor, this latter is also one of the best ways to get kids into learning.

When parts of our area have among the lowest levels of educational attainment in Britain at the moment (in large part due to the mess the County Council has made of the school placement system) closing the local library would be a significant blow to our communities.

My Labour colleagues and I will do all we can together with local people and anyone else who will help in a joint effort to save the library.

With best wishes,
Councillor Mike Rowley
(Barton and Sandhills Ward)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Brian Aldiss OBE writes in protest at threatened closure of the Bury Knowle Library.

Dear Sirs,
I have already written in protest concerning the threatened closure of the Bury Knowle Library.

The closure of any library is an affront to culture and civilization.
Possibly the argument for closing this wonderful little library is that it is situated in parkland and therefore merely a decorative feature of the landscape. This is an absurd argument. The more attractive the surroundings in which one reads, the better. Many of us, particularly in our youth, regard libraries as a refuge.

Headington has recently been looking up, possibly because of reflected glory from the revived new Ashmolean. We do form a part of the world-renowned cultural centre which is Oxford. However, it is sad and mistaken to look upon the recently installed Waitrose as in anyway a compensation for a lost library. We have minds as well as stomachs. The cultivation of mind is more to be prized than any superstore.

Sincerely, Brian Aldiss O.B.E. 12 December 2010

In defence of the public library

I was sorry to hear today of the planned closure of Headington public library, which it seems is to suffer the same fate as much of Oxfordshire's precious network of community libraries. I grew up in Cowley, and as a child spent inordinate amounts of time at Temple Cowley library. I believe it was the facilities there that developed my confidence in an ability to tackle just about anything, in the belief that even if I didn't know about it I knew where I could find out.

Such resources are incredibly important to growing children. The quest for knowledge in young minds soon outpaces the parents' ability to satisfy it. Which is why the libraries are so important and why the internet and the web have become such valuable tools today. In my time it was the printed book – today it is the electronic screen. But while the media may have changed – the purpose has not.

The community libraries were established as a means of improving education across Britain. And now, this valuable community service is to be slashed? Are the coffers so empty that we have to regress to the level of a third-class nation? I cannot believe that in the 21st Century a country that has built a worldwide reputation is closing the doors and pulling down the shutters. Because this is what shutting libraries means to me.

The administrators say that we will still have the central services, that Oxford central and Cowley are sufficient for the city. But for a school-age child a trip from Headington to Carfax, with time in the library, represents a time commitment of 3-4 hours minimum. It is nothing like as convenient, or even as possible in school term, as walking to the local library.

The naysayers will say that, 'Ah, but kids use the internet these days.' But they do not! The internet is a wonderful resource – with the training or experience in where to find the right information. But many people, and especially children without some kind of guidance, are unlikely to find the jewels among the acres of dross that make up the web. And they are far too likely to be distracted by the bright lights of FaceBook, YouTube and similar sites.

I live in Brussels, and having travelled a fair bit see all too clearly what happens in a society where public libraries are poorly resourced or missing altogether. A whole society suffers. Generations grow up, not just lacking any understanding of or love for literature, but without even the knowledge of where to go for or how to seek out answers. This is low expectation – what you've never had you'll never miss.

Over the years my career has changed not once but several times. And throughout those changes, I have been able to go to the public library whenever I needed information on an area where I had no experience. Even in these days of the internet, a professionally trained librarian can help find answers faster than the web. How different would my life have been without such resources to rely on?

Critics may say that present-day county libraries are too small, with too limited resources. So what are we to do? Give them up as lost? Accept that our fates are likely to be poorer and grimier? Is that the advice of our esteemed county councillors? They I say perhaps it is time for a new set of councillors who have been out in the world a bit more.

I am of course biased, but I still think that Britain's place in the world is a bit special. Not because of empire or past glories. But because of attitudes, because of an ability to go out and do things, to achieve! What gives that kind of confidence? Information, the source of all good decision-making.

So I say, do not abandon the county libraries. They are a critical part of the process of developing intellectual confidence from an early age, of developing skills and abilities that can last a lifetime.

Do not close, but find a way to expand the libraries. Improve and update their resources. Keep that rare and valuable creature the trained librarian. Invest in this small, unlauded corner of British life that is so fundamental to the success of a nation.

Philip Hunt 12 December 2010

Let's all work together on this.

I am glad that Nic Newman has set up this blog. Everybody who is angry about the announced library closures must communicate and work together.

The closures are crazy because public libraries cost so little as a percentage of local government spending. Closing all twenty libraries is only supposed to save £2 million over a period of five years. That is ridiculous. Things like extra traffic lights along the London Road and other major roads have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds already. I am told that the legal expenses of the bus-gate court case were fifty thousand pounds! Compare that to the petty amounts saved by closing a library.

I think that the same savings could be made by reducing some inflated public sector salaries and cutting unnecessary jobs as advisor on this or that woolly issue. Do we, for instance, need a local community "manager" in Headington? How much is she paid? Didn't we always manage very well without her before the job was set up?

Cut things like that and we CAN afford a library.

I have put a petition to save Bury Knowle Library (as it alwasy used to be called) on the County Council's own website. This is essential as they have a statutory obligation to investigate any complaint submitted by a certain number of people using that petition form.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Headington Library is a vital cultural asset!

My local library in Headington Oxford, is planned to close due to the cuts imposed by the government on local authority funding. Headington library has been the local library of such famous writers as C.S. Lewis and Tolkein and is the local
library of Headington residents such as Brian Aldiss and Peter Hitchens.

As a family we are regular users of this lovely library set in parkland, it is convenient for shopping,walks, pub and church, the views from library are lovely!

Such action by the government, I find shocking. For us journalists having a public library proved vital in our work for researching, studying and leisure.

As a regular user, Headington Library is one of the busiest local branch libraries in Oxfordshire. I am a regular user, so is my father, my neighbours etc.

In fact my father has been since he been a regular user since he was a boy
during the second world war. A local library is as vital to a local community as a pub, post office,
doctors etc.

Regards Nicholas Newman

It is good to see the public response to this epetition

It is good to see so many regular public-spirited participants of this forum
have entered their names on the e-petition that Friends of Bury Knowle Library has started on the Oxfordshire County Council website see
At the time of writing, I see 35 people have left their names. As one of our
local MPs keep saying, such local participation is an example of what local
democracy and the big society is all about.

Hopefully, registering such opposition to the closure of Headington Library and
other necessary social and cultural facilities will encourage the condem
coalition to reconsider its actions, by making decisions that are less
ideologically based and more for the greater public good

Regards Nicholas Newman Editor

E-petition launched to save Headington Library

Friends of Bury Knowle Library launches petition to stop the closure of Headington's library situated in the grounds of Bury Knowle Park. Friends of Bury Knowle Library invites all users of Bury Knowle Library to sign the following e-petition:

We the undersigned petition the council to abandon its plan to close the public library in Bury Knowle Park, Headington.

This library is a much valued asset to the community and contributes in many ways to leisure and education. It is an essential amenity used and appreciated by a wide public. It is part of our community heritage. We demand more time to consider the options and explore alternative funding possibilities. We believe that if savings need to made they should be made elsewhere. The closure is not democratic as there has been no consultation or discussion during local elections.

To sign the petition:
for more info see's-libraries-.html

To contact uppermordent(at)gmail(DOT) com