Sunday, 26 October 2014

Barnet UNISON response to outsourcing Library proposal

 
Barnet Libraries are under attack again, below is Barnet Unison's response to the onslaught;
 
"Recommendations
1. Barnet UNISON strongly recommends that in-house provision is included in each option.
2. It is essential that a comprehensive risk register is compiled immediately and forms part of the public and staff consultation so that the risks can be fully understood in assessing the options.
3. Assurances are required to both the public and staff that the wider role of volunteers is only a short-term measure.
4. A full equality impact assessment is undertaken to identify the effect of the Library options and the operational proposals"
 
For full report see;
 

Friday, 24 October 2014

London libraries news; Barnet, Bexley, Greenwich & Wandsworth.

There's been lots happening to London libraries recently;

Barnet

Earlier this week firm proposals emerged that could lead to the further decimation of the library service in the Borough.
The 3 options put forward by the council are;

"Option one proposes keeping the same number of libraries open. The service would focus on four key libraries – Chipping Barnet, Hendon, and the new libraries in Church End and Colindale.
Other library buildings would be reduced in size, to around 540sq ft on average, and space would be let out for commercial use. The report states it is “likely” that a number of libraries would move.
Staff hours would be reduced to half of the current opening hours. However, more would be made of technology to keep libraries open outside staffed hours, including online ordering.
Option two suggests closing Burnt Oak, Childs Hill, Mill Hill, East Finchley, Osidge and South Friern libraries.
The remaining libraries would be staffed for 60 per cent of their current opening hours. Opening hours would also be increased, using technology to allow access from 7am to 10pm, outside staffed times.
Option three suggests closing East Barnet and Childs Hill libraries, and offering East Finchley, Edgware, Mill Hill and South Friern libraries to be run by volunteers as ‘community libraries’. The space in each would be reduced, and the libraries could move.
Hendon, Burnt Oak, Chipping Barnet, Church End, Golders Green, Colindale, North Finchley and Oside libraries would be staffed for 50 per cent of the current opening hours. Opening hours would be increased through new technology from 7am to 10pm, outside staffed times."
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11548261.Options_laid_out_for_future_of_Barnet_s_libraries/

So a smorgasbord of cuts, relocation, collocation, volunteers and staffless self-service 'libraries', if you can call such a thing a library?!
(see http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/unstaffed-libraries-contradiction-in.html and  http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/a-library-solution-without-staff.html)

As you would imagine Barnet Unison is up in arms about this latest 're-organisation' (cynical management speak that means cuts)

"Proposals for the library service also suggest extending opening hours by leaving libraries unstaffed, which Unison said would put the safety of the public at risk.
Unison said: “Staff opening and closing the library at the beginning and end of unstaffed hours will also be put at extra risk.
“Until we have evidence from the council, Unison believe unstaffed libraries pose a great danger to our members, our other colleagues and to the general public.”
The union also questioned whether the reorganisation of libraries would save money, or whether unstaffed hours would make thefts more likely.
Making greater use of volunteers to help run the service was also questioned, a move Unison claimed would put the libraries at risk of “eventual closure”.
The letter added: “Nationally it is far from being proved that volunteer-managed libraries have the staying power to operate in the long term once initial enthusiasm and funding dwindles or ceases.”
http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11552077.___Great_concern____expressed_over_future_of_Barnet___s_libraries/

Oh and library staff were only given 30 minutes consultation time on these proposals and Union stewards were hampered in their attempts to represent members, shameful conduct by an administration that's shown nothing but contempt for its workforce and residents.


Greenwich

On the 14/10/14 Greenwich library workers took strike action against Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), the so-called 'Social Enterprise' that runs the library service there and in Wandsworth.

"The dispute is about staffing - there are at least 12 unfilled posts and GLL are proposing to cut more. In addition, GLL are refusing to commit to pay any eventual NJC award to TUPE staff transferred over from the Council."
http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/londonandeastern/londoneasternnews/100-strike-tunrout-of-unite-members-in-greenwich-library-service/

The strike was called by Unite and all 86 of their members walked out, a 100% success, well done to Onay Kasab, regional officer, and everyone involved. They are planning 2 more days of action on the 30th and 31st of October 2014.

Wandsworth

Wandsworth Library which only re-opened in 2009 after a £1.5m re-development could be moved to a new building next door if the council gets its way. The library is currently located in a grade 2 listed building which the council wants to flog to the highest bidder. The council are spinning the move saying that the new building is part of the regeneration of the area and will have a cafe which will attract more people, but it looks as if this is just another case of selling the family silver.
All this after a document written by the local tories was leaked outlining massive cuts including proposals to close non-town centre libraries, well well!


Bexley

Bexley Council is proposing to hand 4 of its smaller libraries over to volunteers or "community focussed organisations" and focus its resources on 6 of it's larger town-centre libraries, sadly this a pattern taking place up and down the country. The nonsense spouted by councils in these situations is sickening and cynical, Bexley are calling their volunteer model 'co-operative libraries' whilst Sheffield are calling theirs 'Associate Libraries'.
Who do they think they are kidding? They conduct sham consultations then try to hoodwink the public with doublespeak, it's a disgrace.






Saturday, 4 October 2014

Cuts to rural buses and libraries; a toxic brew?



I've started to notice recently more and more concerns being raised about cuts to local bus services;

 

“These bus routes are a lifeline to Rye and our villages, which is why we will be campaigning hard to protect them.
People rely on our bus services to get about town, to work and to school. There are alternatives to reducing the support for these routes which wouldn’t be so damaging to our local economy, businesses and the community.”
http://www.ryeandbattleobserver.co.uk/news/local/real-fear-that-bus-cuts-could-cause-isolation-1-6168117

"The number of people whose lives are being blighted by ‘transport poverty’ in Suffolk is set to increase unless urgent action is taken, a charity has warned.
It is feared up to about 15% of the county could already being ‘locked out’ from modern life due to a lack of access to cars and public transport."
http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/suffolk_transport_poverty_could_get_worse_if_no_action_is_taken_charity_warns_1_3784141


and Unison along with the group 'Campaign for better transport' have also, if you'll excuse the pun, got on board;

http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/blog/buses/how-bus-cuts-are-shrinking-womens-lives

http://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/water-environment-and-transport/key-issues/save-our-buses/your-stories/

and in their report Counting the cost; how cuts are shrinking women’s lives’ Unison raise specific concerns relating to women and cuts to bus services;

“Buses are a lifeline for many women, especially those working in low paid jobs who can’t afford other modes of transport. Women of all ages use buses more than rail services and 82% of eligible older women have a concessionary bus pass, compared to 74% of men8. Our survey found that:
Nearly 40% of women travelled by bus to go shopping or use other public services, like visiting the library or health services.”

Why am I interested/concerned about this? If you add these cuts to the ones being made to rural library services then you have a situation that could leave a lot of people in the communities affected very vulnerable and isolated.

I recently wrote a blog post on behalf of Voices for the Library for ‘Age Uk’ in which I made the following points;


So why are libraries so important to the rural elderly and why must we protect and improve them?


1. They’re accessible
 The obvious advantage of having a local library is that it is local. Accessibility is crucial if you have mobility problems and/or haven’t got the money for bus fare.
3. They help to combat social isolation
Libraries are social places where people can chat, read and keep in touch with the outside world. For elderly people who can’t access a static library, mobile and housebound services can fill the gap. Sometimes a friendly smile from a library worker can make all the difference to an isolated and vulnerable persons day or week.
The comment below sums it up well and applies to any person living or working in a rural setting;
We know that huge numbers of our members rely on a bus to get to work, to do their shopping and access other public services, like hospitals and libraries.”
David Arnold
Policy officer, UNISON




But it doesn't have to be this way, in Northern Ireland many Counties operate a subsidised dial-a-bus 
scheme for the very reason that they recognise that rural isolation is a problem.

"Rural isolation is a big issue for the Department for Rural Development. 
It launched a £16m Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation 

framework two years ago. 

Among the schemes to benefit, were the 11 community transport projects 

across Northern Ireland that allow members, who have paid a small joining fee, 

to book a journey in a bus or car."



"The need for rural buses is growing. Banks are closing branches across 

Northern Ireland. 

Ulster Bank is closing branches in Finaghy, Newtownabbey and Hillsborough. 

Libraries have closed in a number of rural areas over recent years, 

including in Moneymore, County Londonderry and Moy in County Tyrone. 

It has been estimated that one in five of Northern Ireland's pubs closed 

between 2000 and 2013 and the rate is not believed to have slowed down." 
http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-29465193
 
 
see also;
 
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/For-professionals/Policy/bus_services_in_rural_areas_may2013.pdf?dtrk=true
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/18/local-bus-services-council-cuts-labour-hilary-benn
http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/services/bus-service-cuts-threaten-rural-communities

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sieghart and Suffolk Libraries.

Suffolk Libraries held their AGM yesterday and the guest speaker was William Sieghart, a Suffolk resident I believe and chair of the government's 'independent' review into public libraries.

"He praised our membership model and divestment, saying it led to more meaningful community involvement and better procurement of services such as wifi. At a time when library services are under pressure, he sees our model as the way forward."

Now it's no secret that William is very keen on the Suffolk model with the library service spinning-out of local authority control and becoming a mutual, an IPS to be precise. But what is uncanny is that not only is William right on track with government policy over mutuals his view that divestment opens up opportunities for alternative procurement and funding channels is exactly what the new report by Locality/OPM for Defra and Arts Council England on rural libraries says!







Saturday, 26 July 2014

Hello, Hello, Hello, What’s All This Then?

A growing development in the often crazy world of collocation is that some authorities are closing police stations and are proposing to base officers in libraries. Warwickshire have been doing it for some time I believe, see;
http://www.warwickshire.police.uk/policingwarwickshire/policestations/alcester_warwickshiredirect

Can you imagine the conflicts that might arise? Someone noisily resisting arrest at the same time as a Baby Bounce session!

I mean where would you put them anyway, with 'True Crime' in the 364's?

But seriously, we already have a myriad of cuts affected services being shoehorned together with libraries, some possibly beneficial but many not, but in my opinion this is a step too far. As a colleague pointed out to me recently the notion that public libraries are neutral spaces is a false one, but there's certainly no hope of it now.

'Public will have to report crime at supermarkets and libraries'

The public face having to go to supermarkets and libraries to report crimes to the police as more stations are shut down to save money, MPs have heard. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9406755/Public-will-have-to-report-crime-at-supermarkets-and-libraries.html

'Leeds cops move out of police stations ... and into libraries'
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/leeds-cops-move-out-of-police-stations-and-into-libraries-1-6547417

Friday, 11 July 2014

Library workers on #J10Strike

It really heartened me to see that so many of my fellow library workers came out on strike yesterday, times are very tough and colleagues are under a lot of pressure but libraries where closed and picketed.
Here are some of the news stories i spotted from around the country;

http://www.brixtonblog.com/brixton-and-lambeth-workers-join-national-day-of-strike-action/23458
"All libraries and 60 schools are closed or partially closed today during a national strike over pay"
"A spokesman confirmed that all libraries are expected to stay closed today"
I've also been told that staff picketing outside Streatham Library erected a 'tunnel' for scabs to crawl through!

http://www.westerngazette.co.uk/Somerset-County-Council-strike-update-seven-cent/story-21447177-detail/story.html
"Bridgwater, Wiveliscombe, Taunton and Priorswood Libraries were closed for the day with Glastonbury Library closed from midday."

http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=23302&headline=Views%20from%20the%20picket%20line
"Around half of council-run libraries, as well as the mobile library services, have been unable to open their doors."

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/library-workers-join-strike-action.html
"Libraries around the country will be closed today (10th July) as thousands of public sector workers go on strike in protest over pay, pensions and cuts."
"Library manager Ian Anstice, who runs Public Library News, is one of the librarians striking."
"Rosie Bartam, a library service advisor in Nottinghamshire will also be striking."

http://m.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/11333520.Librarians_join_strike_in_series_of_disputes_with_government_over_pay__pensions_and_cuts/
"LIBRARY workers in Lansdown, Stroud are taking a stand against low pay.
Five women including Stroud libraries manager, three library team leaders and a library assistant have joined the strike in a series of disputes with the government over pay, pensions and cuts."

http://m.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/11331631.Day_of_action__Libraries_closed_in_Devizes__Chippenham_and_Corsham/
"Day of action: Libraries closed in Devizes, Chippenham and Corsham"

http://www.tottenhamjournal.co.uk/news/haringey_on_strike_unions_action_closes_37_schools_libraries_and_customer_service_centre_1_3679424
"All libraries except for Wood Green Central Library were closed by the industrial action"

So well done and solidarity to all those library workers who took action.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

LSSI secure contract, a Punk archive and 'The State of Reference Collections' report.

Library related stories that have recently caught my attention;


LSSI wins contract in Upland, California.

Library Services and Systems Inc. (LSSI) the US based library operator has just won a 5 yr contract to run Upland Library in California.
http://www.dailybulletin.com/government-and-politics/20140625/upland-council-approves-outsourcing-of-library
Although claims are being made that this will lead to an increase in opening hours and stock budgets not everyone is happy with the decision;

"Becky Coyne, an Upland resident for 35 years, says she has been has been a library patron all those years and has been a volunteer the last four.
“The idea of LSSI taking over the library is just appalling to me,” Coyne said.
Coyne said library staff continued to give 200 percent despite numerous budget cuts, and shutting the doors on Fridays and Saturdays. It also means she will not volunteer for a privately run library.
“Public library — just take away the public. I just cannot believe you are doing this,” she said. “If I can’t trust you to run my library how can I trust you to run my city?”

I suspect the staff will also be apprehensive about the whole thing considering that they will be laid off and then will have to re-apply for their positions as LSSI employees which could mean that some will lose their jobs. LSSI tried to secure this contract 2 years ago but it was dropped due to opposition;

"LSSI is the same company the city attempted to work out a contract with two years ago but those plans were put on hold after several library supporters voiced opposition."


Punk Archive
minor threat flier


The District of Columbia Library has decided to document the area's punk scene in a new archive;

"As part of the public library's Special Collections/Washingtoniana unit, the DC Punk Archive is going to feature "multiple formats including photographs, published materials (books, zines, articles), recordings (vinyl records, tapes, CDs, videos, live recordings, oral histories, film footage), and ephemera (fliers, posters, set lists)."
http://boundbooksandlibraryblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/dc-public-library-establishing-punk.html

What an excellent, inclusive and creative idea.


The State of Reference Collections

Being a Reference Librarian myself I was interested to see that Sage, the academic and reference publishers, have just published a new report entitled 'State of Reference Collections'. The report concludes;
"The future of reference is far from grim, despite competition from Google, Wikipedia, and other resources and despite budgetary constraints. Librarians are still interested in resources that make research easier for their patrons and will buy those resources when there is a clear use case for them. This includes integrating into reference the notion that the types of resources that now define reference include article, statistical, and video databases."
It's a positive one considering the cuts to library services and the loss of specialist staff but then again they are trying to sell their products.