Thursday, 24 March 2011

County tears up library closure plan

County tears up library closure plan

8:00am Thursday 24th March 2011
By Reg Little
COUNTY HALL is abandoning controversial plans to end funding to almost half the county’s libraries.
Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell told The Oxford Times that the proposals had been “torn up”, with the council preparing to “rethink” its library policy.
The planned funding cuts led to months of protests over fears that many local libraries would be forced to close.
Mr Mitchell pledged that council officers would now be working with local communities on “a library-by-library basis” in an effort to avoid any closures.
In November, the council said it would stop funding to 20 of the county’s 43 libraries.
But in what will be seen as a major U-turn, Mr Mitchell said the council now wanted to begin working with local people “with the slate clean”.

I would call that Success

Following an extra provision of funding from the Government,
Oxfordshire County Council has finally, rather grudgingly, announced
that the twenty threatened libraries are to be spared and will be
allowed to carry on relying on a reduced staff eked out by community
It is the best outcome we can reasonably expect.
This happy news was announced today on Radio Oxford and it is also in
the Oxford Times.

We can now wind up the online petitions since the campaign can be
regarded as a success!

Time for a party, perhaps?

I know it is not ideal in every way and I am not excusing the way the Council will be making librarians redundant, but under the present dire economic circumstances - and with our existing County Council - it really is the best outcome we could get.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Keith Mitchell's latest Library Missive

Released today to county councillors

Personal Statement from Cllr Keith Mitchell CBE, Leader of the County Council
I have personally received a wealth of letters and e-mails about libraries. I recognise that people feel very strongly about this issue.
I want to reassure people that the County Council is looking at all options and has an open mind about the outcome of the consultation
I want the Council to work hand-in-hand with local communities to find a way to keep libraries open in Oxfordshire and to forge ahead with creating a modern library service that is comprehensive and efficient.
I want to see libraries remain open but this can only happen if, in some places, volunteers step forward to help to run them. We have seen how effective a Friends Group can be and believe they should form an essential component of every library service provided by the Council. In the coming year I want to work with every community that does not yet have one to establish a Library Friends Group to work with our staff to agree the best way forward for that library.
In places where the Council provides a full library service I hope that costs can be kept down by encouraging volunteers to supplement Council staff and by increasing the use of self service.
In some places there are lots of community buildings and I want the Council to work with local people to see if we can make better use of these facilities, particularly where the current library building is not very suitable.
In those places where the Council cannot afford to provide a full library service, I want the Council to give ongoing access to important local library facilities. More specifically, I believe we should continue to provide free access to a suitable library building, to our book stock; to the library stock management system and the expertise of qualified librarians. 
I have already announced that an additional late government grant has enabled us to put a little more money back into the service, giving the opportunity to rethink our strategy and to take longer over consultation.  As part of the consultation, I want the County Council to have a dialogue with local people library-by-library.  The consultation into the future of the library service will begin in mid-May. The consultation will run until the end of September to give plenty of time to hear people’s views and to consider options.  However, we still need to make some savings.
No decisions have been taken. Officers are working hard to rethink the process, complete the needs assessment and put together a consultation document. 
It is not appropriate to say any more at this time. Further information will be available in the consultation document. 
Keith R Mitchell
Cllr Keith R Mitchell
Leader of the Council

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Neil Clark comments on Library issue

  • Comment is free

    Don't privatise our libraries | Neil Clark, 12 Mar 2011
    Neil Clark: The government's cuts threaten the future of much-loved public libraries. But we should be wary of its zeal for privatisation too

  • see also

    Friday, 11 March 2011

    Campaign for Books launches library closure challenge

    Campaign for Books launches library closure challenge

    02 March 2011

    Campaign for the Book has launched a legal challenge to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’s failure to comply with his duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.

    The 1964 Act requires the Secretary of State to “superintend and promote the improvement of the public library service provided by local authorities”. It requires each local authority to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons” and places a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that such provision is maintained.

    The current, widespread proposals to close vast number of public libraries across the UK, demonstrates the Secretary of State’s failure to comply with this duty. And the guidance issued by him to local authorities about their duty to “provide a comprehensive and efficient” library service is inaccurate and misleading.

    Saving public libraries

    Campaign for the Book organiser Alan Gibbons said:

    “I have asked Leigh Day solicitors to pursue the Campaign’s concerns over the possibility of a large scale withdrawal of funds from public libraries. I think it is vital that the Courts examine the legality of the Secretary of State’s approach on the provision of libraries in England and Wales. He has a duty to ensure that councils provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. I believe that he is failing in that duty.”

    The Campaign for the Book is an umbrella body that attempts to raise the profile of reading for pleasure and supports libraries and librarians.

    Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day & Co Solicitors, who are acting for Campaign for the Book said:

    “The duties under the 1964 Act require the Secretary of State to investigate and compel, if necessary, local authorities, to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service in their area. The current cuts to public libraries across the country demonstrate that he is failing to do this.”
    Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

    Campaigners decide to reject Big Society money

    CAMPAIGNERS from 16 of Oxfordshire’s 20 threatened libraries have said they will not apply for cash to run the branches themselves.
    Library groups have formed a new county-wide alliance, Save Oxfordshire Libraries, which has written to County Hall saying they do not want Big Society money to run a “do-it-yourself service”.

    Thursday, 10 March 2011

    Consultations, the good, the bad and the ugly?

    Some of you may be interested to read the article in the Society section
    of yesterday's Guardian about good and bad consultation. When OCC
    eventually produces the one on libraries, we need to be sure they really
    are taking all necessary factors into account -- and that they don't
    appear to have decided the outcome before they consult (they now CLAIM
    to have an open mind).see also
    Judith Wardle 10 March 2011

    Oxford Central Library Re-opens

     Monday 7 March 2011 Oxford Central Library has now re-opened and includes on the second floor a selection of printed local and family history books and access to the full range of computer-based resources (Ancestry Library, FindMyPast, Oxfordshire parish register and census transcripts and indexes). Oxfordshire Family History Society will continue to provide volunteer advisers at specific times.

    It looks now like an upmarket bookstore. All it needs now is its own coffee bar like Starbucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The self service machines are just like the ones at the co-op, but will not handle audio books or dvds at present. I expect, they will like at the coop need someone to be on call all the time.

    Wednesday, 9 March 2011

    Korky Paul will award prizes in Headington library

    Korky Paul will award prizes in Headington library
    on Saturday 16th April at 1pm (writing comp)
    Hope you can be there!