Monday, 13 July 2015

Camden Council proposes library cuts and Councillors set up a campaign and a petition.

Have your say on £800,000 cuts putting Camden libraries in the firing line  

"Libraries could close, see opening hours slashed, be privatised, or become self-service under cost-saving options to be presented to residents in a consultation next week.
The council could also save about £200,000 by outsourcing the running of libraries to a private company, an option thought to be unpopular with residents.
Its biggest savings of about £500,000 could come by cutting jobs and making libraries self-service only."

Is West Hampstead library at risk?



Barnet Childrens' March for Libraries on 12/9/15 - A call out to all library campaigners/supporters.

This is a call out to all library campaigners and supporters in London and beyond. Bring your banners, placards and voices and show your solidarity with Save Barnet Libraries, Barnet Unison and the children of Barnet on Saturday 12/9/15. We need to unite and fight!

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Stepping back!

Just to let everyone know that I'm stepping back from campaigning for a while and won't be posting anything. Keep up the fight.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The last leg of the Save Barnet Libraries March (or Campaigning can be Cathartic)

I know some of you who know me well know that I'm currently off work with depression and anxiety, the main triggers being work-related stress and my dad's death several years ago. I've been really struggling for the last few years but it all came to a head a couple of months ago when i broke down in the street on my way to work. I feel tearful and agitated a lot of the time but will get better eventually with support, counselling and lots of walking. I did try SSRI's but couldn't cope with the side-effects and anyway the medication route was never really one i was happy with.

"What the hell has this got to do with the Save Barnet March or campaigning?" I hear you say. Well if it wasn't for my campaigning and the network I've built up I would be feeling far worse than I already do.
Campaigning is cathartic and my fellow campaigners are my support network.

Anyway, today I took my therapists' and Doctors' advice (get out more, meet people and walking) and attended and spoke at the last leg of the Save Barnet Libraries March. 100's of us walked about 7 miles via 4 libraries and myself and Alan Gibbons (Author and Library Campaigner) gave what I hope were inspiring and rebel rousing speeches especially after the recent horrific election result.

All in all a fantastically inspiring day which was brilliantly organised by Barnet Unison and the Barnet campaigners. They deserve the full solidarity and support of every library user, supporter, worker, union member and campaigner up and down the land.

So get out there and organise, march, protest and fight. Show solidarity and give support to those who need it.

Here's some photos;


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Official statement by Bromley Unite on the libraries strike.




Solidarity and thanks to Bromley Unite for the following statement;

"Members of the Unite trade union have been taking strike action this week in defence of Bromley Libraries.
The Council are considering privatisation via market testing, transfer to a social enterprise and also replacing professional library staff with volunteers.
The public consultation organised by the Council did not allow the public to opt to keep libraries council controlled and run by paid, professional staff. The union therefore responded with a consultation exercise of its own - the result being that over a thousand people responded - every single one opposed to the Council proposals. Council officers had agreed that should there be evidence that the public opposed the options put forward by the Council, it would lead to a rethink. But so far, no rethink has taken place. In response, Union members in libraries, along with Unite members across the Council voted by over 80% to take strike action. The dispute is also to protest an attack by the Council on the trade union.
It is no coincidence that at the same time as beginning a mass privatisation programme across the Council that includes libraries, the Council have agreed to withdraw all facility time arrangements from the Branch Secretary - who happens to be a library worker!!
The strike action will involve library members from 27th April to 30th April, with the whole branch coming out on strike on 1st May, 7th and 19th May. Workers from Parks and Adult Services who also face privatisation are out on strike on 5th May and from 13th to 18th May. A march against privatisation, in particular highlighting the threat to libraries has been earmarked by Unite nationally for 13th June - the march will demonstrate through Bromley, targetting the massive majority Tory borough and showing it as the nightmare scenario faced by the rest of the country if we do not act now!
The strike action of library members has been incredible. solid support from members along with fanstastic public support has shown the great support that exists for public libraries. The action has also been effective - leading to library closures as a result of the strike action.
As Unite Branch secretary Kathy Smith made clear on the picket line, this is not about letting off steam - it's a fight to the finish to save our services!"

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Advocacy under austerity, Vaizey, Northamptonshire and donations and cynical electioneering.

Advocacy under austerity

A rather excellent piece by Pedronicus on advocacy and austerity in response to a recent CILIP blog;
"In the present climate, where services are immediately and imminently under threat of extinction, in those instances I do not see any alternative other than what has been termed “protest advocacy”. There is not time to think in terms of “changing the narrative”, or “building relationships”. Libraries do not need more or even better advocacy: they need actual money to be available in local authority budgets which have been cut to impossibly low levels. They need to be nurtured and sustained at the level of national and local policy by people who are not driven by neoliberal ideology. On the level of our whole society, it needs ALL of us to reflect long and hard on whether we want to continue to allow our lives and those of our communities to be directed by values that see no worth in anything other than its monetary value or ability to generate income.
If we do that maybe we can collectively start to find some real answers."

and another very splendid piece by Ian Clark on the very same topic;
Vaizey, Northamptonshire and donations
The man who would rather not intervene, Ed Vaizey, visited a library in Northamptonshire recently. "Big deal" I here you say, well Northamptonshire is Paul Blantern (CEO of the county council and Chair of the Sieghart Taskforce) territory. Ed had some interesting things to say during his visit, things that outline the governments policy on libraries; donations, volunteers, philanthropy, hubs and private/public models.
"The visit comes weeks after the county council unveiled a new public donation scheme aimed enhancing library services.
The scheme however sparked fears that libraries in the county are under threat of closing down, something which was quickly denied by the local authority, who said it was just 'an example of the constant work in the county to make sure libraries are hubs at the very heart of our communities'.
When the Northants H&P asked Mr Vaizey for his thoughts on the scheme he said: "Libraries actually originally came into fruition mainly through generous donations.
"Andrew Carnegie is the most famous person who is responsible for hundreds of libraries in the UK, and back them libraries didn't become a statutory so they didn't start being paid for by the rate payer till about 100 years ago.
"We have a private public model for a lot of things such as local arts organisations, which gets government grants to cover the basics but they also raise money from people who support those organisations."

Cynical Electioneering

Oh you know how the government has cut local council grants by 30-50% and has refused to re-introduce the abolished English library standards and has abolished the Advisory Council for Libraries and has handed the development remit for libraries to an arts organisation and them cut it's funding and hasn't bothered to replace (as far as we know?) Yinnon Ezra (DCMS Specialist Advisor for Libraries) and sat on the Sieghart Report until one day before the xmas recess and has allowed Ed Vaizey to do bugger all about superintending the 64 Act and how 6000 library staff have lost their jobs since 2007/8 and how several hundred libraries have been closed or are at risk of closure and how 12% of all public libraries are now volunteer-led, WELLLL now they've decided that they want to promote library membership for children, is there an election coming up?


LSSI target Bakersfield raising a possible conflict of interest and Union concerns.

Library supporters concerned about privatization talk

"The idea that Kern County might take its 25 libraries and bookmobile operation private has been whispered around the county since supervisors hired Kern County Library Director Nancy Kerr in late October.
Kerr previously managed the Valencia Branch Library in the Santa Clarita library system, which was run by Library Systems & Services LLC, a for-profit Maryland company that runs public libraries across the nation.
Kerr did not return calls requesting comment on the privatization proposal. Deputy County Counsel Mark Nations said because Kerr was an LSSI employee, she has been directed to stay out of the discussion for a full year."

Debate rages over civil service rules and library privatization
"Talk of hacking civil service rules and privatizing the Kern County Library system seem to have put a crimp in the relationship between the Kern County Board of Supervisors and Kern's largest employee union."

for more on this story see;