Friday, 27 November 2015

Why I voted for John Burgess.

If you're a Unison member and still haven't made up your mind about who to vote for in the General Secretary elections then you still have until 5pm on 4/12/15 to do so.

As a Unison member, campaigner and public library worker it was an easy decision for me to make. I've had the honour to march & protest with John and his branch on numerous occasions, in fact I've helped carry their banner so many times that he refers to me as his 'stunt double'!

I've seen how John has galvanised his branch and the wider Barnet community into fighting against savage cuts and privatisation. I've seen him stand with and speak up for other victimised trade unionists, I've stood with him outside Parliament against the TU Bill, I've marched with him on Pride and in Manchester on the recent TUC rally. He's the real deal, an inspiration.

In relation to libraries, John, the Save Barnet Libraries campaigners and the wider community have organised marches, protests and lobbies against a hard-right council who seeks to decimate the service. This is how a union branch should fight, arm in arm with local people; inclusive, democratic and accountable. A united front.

If you want a General Secretary who'll fight then vote for John.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fight for Lewisham Libraries.

Solidarity to Lambeth Library Workers!

On Wednesday 18/11/15 after much provocation, and in defence of a crucial statutory public service and their jobs, public library workers (mostly or all Unison members) in Lambeth walked out. All ten libraries in the borough were closed.
They were supported in their action by the Save Lambeth Libraries campaign and by the many Friends groups in the borough.

I salute them and the library workers in Barnet, Bromley, Greenwich and everywhere else in London who have taken action. I also salute the users, community activists etc who have protested alongside them.

London's library services are being torn apart, in the last few years we've witnessed the culling of 1000+ paid/trained staff, many libraries closed, libraries privatised and opening hrs and budgets slashed. We desperately need a coordinated and united fight back. Let's hope that Wednesdays action is a spark.

For more information see;

and for the Save Lambeth Libraries petition and FB page see; 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Unscheduled closures, paying twice & a critical report; Embarrassing for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce?

More worrying news from Northamptonshire Libraries.

A recent report by ‘Healthwatch Northamptonshire’ has raised concerns regarding the library service delivering U5/family sessions originally delivered by Children’s Centres;

“The key findings in the report are:
* Although libraries are welcoming to families, they do not have the space, facilities, staff, volunteers or expertise to run open access family services.
* Staffing levels are low across all the libraries Healthwatch visited, given the additional functions for libraries.
* Volunteers to run the children’s sessions are difficult to recruit.
* Families that may need help do not appear to be going to either libraries or children’s centres.”

Now this isn’t the first time that concerns have been raised about this, in 2013 the issues of safeguarding and confidentiality popped up;
"libraries aren't the right environment for young family activities (including safeguarding concerns relating to full public access and confidentiality issues)", and some raised worries about accessibility and location.”

and some residents/service users were so concerned about the cuts/changes that they started a petition;
“They fear fewer services provided by children’s centres and more by library staff will leave more families at risk of needing specific help.”

Northamptonshire Libraries have experienced staffing & funding problems over the last 2-3 years with many hours lost to unscheduled closures  and the 'trust' set up to "support" libraries being accused of asking people to pay twice for the service through the introduction of a premium library membership scheme.

“People already have to pay for things twice with the council such as registrations, adult care, now they are being made to pay for libraries twice."

All in all potentially very worrying, and embarrassing, for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce who just happens to be Paul Blantern, the CEO of Northamptonshire County Council!

when Paul was asked on Twitter about the report he replied;

“bluntly this was a report that neither my politicians, children's nor library service give any credence to at all!” 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A library glossary #3

Following on from my original glossary and it's update post here's another instalment of library spin and doublespeak.

Library Access Points (LAP's) - A volunteer-led 'library' type of thing with a computer in Cambridgeshire.

The Word - "a state of the art, new library and digital media centre" in South Tyneside. (3D Printer mentioned)

Hybrid Library - A library building in North Yorkshire containing one paid/trained member of library staff surrounded by an army of volunteers. This sole library worker will manage the library and supervise/train the volunteers as well as offering 12-15 hrs of professional support to the partly cast-adrift local volunteer-led "community library", it's claimed that the job description contains the words "superhuman powers" and "stress assessment"!

"a local non-statutory library offer" - Lambeth Labour (the co-op council!) bollocks for a volunteer-led 'library'.

"alternative delivery models" - a phrase beloved of both the SCL & the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, it basically means offloading library services to suspect Social Enterprises, mock mutuals, Trusts you can't trust, blacklisting building firms and Baptist churches!

Customer Experience Supervisor - someone who works for the University of West London Library Services helping students (not customers) and doing a bit of shelving.

Maintaining - what Barnet Council claim to be doing to their library service whilst users/staff/campaigners/unions claim it should be another word ending in "ing".

Express Library Service - not a library aboard a train but a plan/ploy by Birmingham Council to extend its Central library's opening hours by introducing self-serve kiosks that speak 70 different languages or something like that!?! (anyway they're not re-employing the culled staff)

Library Ambassador - someone in Northamptonshire who's daft/naive enough to pay twice for their library service.

Rightsourcing - can't even bring myself to explain this one!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Save Barnet Libraries Lobby, 12/10/15, 7pm at Hendon Town Hall

Image result for save barnet libraries

to join us at Hendon Town Hall at 7pm on 12 October for the Council Meeting where the final proposals for our service will be announced. 
Maybe you signed the petition, joined a Save Barnet Libraries march, took part in the consultation? 
Maybe you’ve read the report of the consultation and know that more than 90% of Barnet residents oppose the council’s three options for cuts to library services, closure of libraries, and unstaffed opening hours? 
Now make sure your views are represented. 
Come to the Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding committee meeting, starting at 7pm sharp, at Hendon Town Hall on 12 October.

To get involved, e-mail us: Save Barnet Libraries is supported by: Barnet Alliance for Public Services East Finchley Library Users Group Mill HIll Residents’ Association Osidge/East Barnet Library User Group Save Childs Hill and Golders Green Libraries SaveBarnetLibraries Barnet Unison #kids4libraries

Lewisham Library Campaigners raise concerns re cuts, volunteers & consultation with Head of Service.

We were interested to finally get to read these proposals.  If we had not been informed by a contact  we still would not know and neither would many residents in Lee Green ward.  This is an important issue as the consultation is supposed to start tomorrow.  It is to be hoped that this very important public survey will not follow the same disastrous route of the supposed collection of material relating to the foundation of the borough 50 years ago.  Who knows what was missed as it was so incompetently handled by the council.
We will be distributing leaflets at our Local Assembly on Tuesday.  This would have made an ideal event for a public announcement, but no!  It is left to interested members of the public to disseminate council information.
In addition large sums of public money have been spent on both the Manor House and Forest Hill.  The mortgage remains on the Manor House until 2049.  If the buildings are to be maintained, provide public service and be paid for, where is the accountability? What do we get for our money?
The actual suggestion that any taker of a contract could be allowed to decide to reduce the size of the library space calls into question Why?  Why would the council allow a contract of such a nature, damaging to local services, to be written, accepted and signed in the first place?  Both Forest Hill and the Manor House have plenty of alternative space. Torridon Road is already a small library.
When the council proposed community libraries in 2010 there were very few takers, and one cannot say the result, which is the council's preferred model, has been an outstanding success.   The visits and issues figures speak for themselves.  If these 3 libraries are removed from the control of the public library service where will people go?  What will the CIPFA figures reveal?  Look at the map and see just 3 council run libraries?
Where will volunteers come from?  There are already ideas that they may be needed for public parks and gardens.  Where does it end, and do we get our money back?
It is accepted that public finances are in dire straits, but, surely brains could be put into gear to resolve such issues in a much better way.  And please do not suggest the public come up with ideas.  The public does this regularly and often, but, as Mr Corbyn is saying, nobody listens. 
As a Labour run council it is time Lewisham listened and stopped patronising the public.

yours sincerely,

Peter Richardson (Chair of the Users and Friends of Manor House Library)"

Having had feedback that those seeking the consultation on-line were having difficulty, we tried it ourselves.
There is no link available on the proposals within the library menu of the Council website.
Searching for Library Consultation 2015 produces no result.
Consultation Portal proved no information about impending consultation details.

When will this be rectified?

When will the public be informed about consultation meetings?

Yours sincerely,

Peter Richardson, Chairman,
The Users & Friends of Manor House Library.

Patricia Richardson, Secretary
The Users & Friends of Manor House Library"
For proposals and consultation see;
and for press coverage see;