Tuesday, 20 December 2011

OCC approves library proposal: Botley Library Saved!

At a meeting on 12th December Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet approved their library restructuring plan. At the centre of this is a core of 22 libraries, which would remain fully staffed in order to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. BOTLEY LIBRARY IS ON THIS CORE LIST which will see Botley Library remain open, run by trained staff as requested in the petition which we all signed earlier this year!! Although all 43 of Oxfordshire’s libraries will remain open, the other 21 will need to provide up to half of their staff through volunteers.

This is a remarkable turn-around from where we were last December when OCC announced that Botley would be one of 20 libraries that would have all council funding withdrawn. Thanks to all of the support from the local community we have been able though our petition; speaking at Council Library meetings; local events (including a local author book day in the Library) and completion of Consultation Forms, to get Botley Library included in the core group.

We could not have managed to do this with all of the fantastic support that we have had from the local community – so a big thank you to all of you who have supported the Library campaign. On your behalf I would also like to thank all of the members of the Save Botley Library Steering Group for their hard work since this was formed after the public meeting last February. They have given up many hours of their time to organise and support all of the events above. This has been a fantastic community effort to save our local library and we should all be pleased with and proud of what has been achieved.

However our work is not fully completed since the proposed Botley Redevelopment will see the Library needing to move to a new location. The new premises must provide a suitable environment for a modern library and be located at the centre of our community. This is something for which your support is likely to be needed again in 2012. But in the meantime please celebrate the success of saving Botley Library!

Mike Sage
Chair, Steering Group
Save Botley Library Campaign

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Save Botley Library Runs Events before OCC Consultation Concludes

The Oxfordshire County Council has been running a Public Consultation on its’ proposal for the “Future Library Service for Oxfordshire” since the beginning of June which will conclude on the 30th September. The basis of the proposal is to keep all libraries open, with a good stock of books, public access computers and online resources. The consultation document (available on-line or from the Library) includes a Feedback Form to allow all residents to express their views. At the end of the Consultation results will be reported to the Council Cabinet in early November for a decision as to whether or not to take the proposal forward. If it is agreed, implementation will start from April 2012 as no changes to the library service will need to be made to meet the 2011/12 Council budget.

Although thanks to our campaigning it is proposed that Botley Library will remain open and fully funded, this does not mean that our task to Save Botley Library is completed. Before the Library Service Consultation concludes at the end of September we need to complete as many Feedback Forms for this as possible, in order to ensure that the Council fully understand how strongly we feel about our library.

In support of this, the Save Botley Library campaign has been running a number of events to encourage the completion of Feedback Forms. The first of these was a Mad Hatters’ Tea Party in the Precinct on Saturday 10th September. Members of the Steering Group and a number of our supporters dressed up as book characters, as shown in the photo, and we provided tea, cakes and a table for people to sit down and complete the Feedback Forms. This event was well supported and we had over 40 forms completed on the spot and a similar number taken away to be completed.

The second event was held in the Library the following Saturday – a Graphic Novel/Comic Strip Workshop run by Adam Murphy. A great deal of fun was had by all who came, ages ranging from 6 to 60, and one or two talented young cartoonists emerged who were glad to learn about Adam's cartoon course at the Old Jam Factory. Look out for a display of the cartoons done on the day in the Library. As well as a morning of fun a further fifty feedback forms were completed.

The final event will be held on Saturday 24th September a Horrid Henry Treasure Hunt, in the Library, which we are also expecting to be well-attended.

Thanks to all of your support we have taken a huge step in removing Botley from the November list of potential Library closures and we now need to make our opinions clear before the end of the Public Consultation. If you haven’t already completed the Feedback Form in the consultation document, and do not do so, then it will be assumed that you have no opinion should the Council change their position on our library. We know we can rely on you to help us reach our destination of a Botley Library fully funded and run by trained staff and librarians.

Save Botley Library Campaign.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Come to the Save Botley Library Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

Save Botley Library is holding a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Botley Square on Saturday 10th September at 11am. Dress up as a character from a book and come and celebrate the campaign's success so far! The event has a serious purpose too- to remind people to fill in and send off their Consultation forms to Oxfordshire County Council. (please read the information about the forms here). There will be forms to fill in for those who haven't already done so. Remember, the deadline for sending in the forms is 30th September!

As Save Botley Chairman Mike Sage said in his speech to our Save Botley Public meeting in June, we've come a long way in our battle to keep Botley Library open as a council-run library staffed by trained librarians, but we're not over the finishing line yet. Help us get over the line with one more big push! See you all on the 10th September!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Mike Sage's speech at the Save Botley Library Public Meeting

Save Botley Library Public Meeting
Seacourt Hall - Thursday 23rd June 2011


Thank you for coming here tonight and for all of your support in the campaign to Save Botley Library.

I am Mike Sage, Chair of the Steering Group that is running your campaign. I am joined by some of the members of the Steering Group, including Neil Clark and Andrew Pritchard Chair & vice Chair of the Parish Council, Lorraine Bonner-Woods, Emily Burgoyne, Jennie Hopkins and Anissa Schlichting.

We would like to give you an update on where we are on the journey to keep Botley Library open, run by trained staff and librarians.

Where have we come from?

In November 2010 Oxfordshire County Council announced that it was planning to remove funding from 20 of the 43 Oxfordshire Libraries on the basis that the remaining 23 account for 82% of Library visits. Botley was in the group of 20 for which funding would cease although it accounted third largest number of visits in the County.

Since that time the residents of Botley have been campaigning to Save Botley Library. The support for this Campaign has been fantastic, showing the strength of Public Support for the retention of the Library in their community.

Our Petition, Library events and protests have, we are sure, focussed the attention of the County Council on its’ decision for the future of Libraries. More often than not, when the subject of Library closures has been in the media (press, radio or TV) Botley Library and our campaign to save it have been featured. We have to thank Neil Clark our Media Communications Officer for that.

Where are we now?

On 27th May Oxfordshire County Council announced a proposal for the “future Library service for Oxfordshire”. This followed a more thorough look at the requirements for libraries across the County and will form the basis of a Public Consultation through to 30th September. An increase in the provision of funding from central government means that no changes to the library service will need to be made to meet the 2011/12Council budget.

The basis of the proposal is to keep all libraries open, with a good stock of books, public access computers and online resources. However, not all libraries will be fully funded and nearly half of them will need some form of volunteer support to operate.

The proposal categorises Oxfordshire Libraries into five key groups:
- Groups 1 & 2 comprise the 22 core libraries which will be fully funded and resourced. I am pleased to confirm that Botley is in this grouping which accounts for around 85% of all issues, visits and library users.
- Group 3 are community plus libraries and will be run by two thirds paid staff and one third volunteers, although they only account for around 5% of usage.
- Groups 4 & 5 are the balance of the Counties libraries and will be run by one third paid staff and two thirds volunteers, accounting for around 10% of usage.
Whilst in the current proposal Botley library will be fully funded and run by trained staff and librarians, the campaign remains opposed to the use of volunteers to provide core services in any library. We will therefore continue to support the Save Oxfordshire Libraries alliance in their efforts to question the use of volunteers in Groups 3, 4 & 5.
The proposal also previews the Councils aspirations to enhance the library service to ensure that it is fit for the 21st century. These include investigating: the provision of free Wi-Fi across the library network; improving the library website for online access; delivering eAudio and eBooks via the website.

The Library Service Consultation Document includes a Feedback Form to allow all residents to have their say.

Where are we going?

We now need to complete as many Feedback Forms for Library Service Consultation as possible, in order to make the Council fully aware of how we feel about our library.
This can be done online at the County Council Library Services web page or by filling in the forms available from the Library and here tonight.

Your Steering Group has produced some guidance notes with some suggestions for handling some of the trickier questions on the form. These are available here tonight and are on our website savebotleylibrary.blogspot.com.

Over the coming weeks we will be running a number of events to promote the completion of the Feedback Forms. This will include events in this hall, in the Library and during the North Hinksey Festival we hope to have some form of small celebration in the precinct to mark our success to date.

The County Council is also offering a library service consultation event to all libraries. It is up to us to define what form this will take and so if any of you have any views on this we are keen to hear them. We will also consult with the Save Oxfordshire Libraries alliance to hear what is other planned by other libraries.

Watch our website and the Notice boards around the Parish for information on all of the events and if you haven’t already done so leave us your e-mail address and we will add you to our supporters’ communications.

At the end of the Consultation period the results will be reported to the Council Cabinet in late autumn 2011 for a decision as to whether or not to take the proposal forward. If agreed implementation will start from April 2012.

What happens after we have saved the Library Funding?

Once full funding has been secured we then have the further issue that the Vale District Council is proposing a redevelopment of the site on which the library building is located (as well as this Hall). We need to ensure that this redevelopment results in an improved facility for the Botley Library at the heart of the development.

You can hear more about this if you stay for the Parish Council meeting which follows this meeting. However, the Save Botley Library Campaign will be seeking that the facilities available for the Botley Library in any new development are an improvement over the current library.

Thank you for coming tonight and thank you again for all of the support that you have given to the Save Botley Library campaign. We need one more big push now with completing the Consultation Feedback Forms and then we should get to keep the Library service that Botley deserves.

If you have any questions, I or one of my colleagues on the Steering Group will endeavour to answer them.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Save Botley Library Public Meeting on Thursday 23rd June

Save Botley Library Public Meeting

Please come to the meeting to hear an update on
the campaign to save Botley Library!

We need your continued support throughout the County Council's Library Service Consultation process.

At the meeting you can collect a copy of the guidance notes which
have been prepared to help you complete the Consultation Feedback Form effectively and to the library's advantage.

The library is not yet saved, we have taken a huge step forward,
but not yet reached our destination.

Monday, 13 June 2011


THE Save Botley Library Campaign recommends that as many of the local residents as possible complete the Oxfordshire County Council Library Service Consultation Feedback Form to show our strength of feeling over the Library. These are available on-line at the County Council website or from the Library. Below are some suggestions for handling some of the trickier questions on the form.

QUESTION 1: Answer YES. Ticking either of the other two boxes may lead to your contribution being discounted.

QUESTIONS 4 and 5: We suggest you agree with both these statements (as their proposal is to retain Botley Library) but enter reservations as to their intentions towards the county library service as a whole in the comments box.

QUESTION 6: Answer NO, but you may wish to add a comment that all Oxfordshire Libraries should be fully funded and not part run by volunteers.

QUESTION 7: This might be the place to remind the Council that the law requires them to provide the whole county with an effective and efficient library service, which may not be fully met if volunteers are widely used.

QUESTION 8: Answer NO, since any other answer could be used to support a Council case for removing funding and professional staff from Botley Library.

QUESTION 10: As you can only tick one box, tick the first box – “Library Service Customer” to ensure that your responses are taken into account.

QUESTIONS 11 TO 14: Complete as you see fit. However if you have a disability if you are able to please tick Yes to Question 13 as this will help the case that Botley Library needs to support you.

YOUR CONTACT DETAILS: Once we have achieved our aim of saving Botley Library the Campaign group will form an independent Friends of Botley Library group. However if you do wish to give your details to the Council please make it clear in your answer to QUESTION 8 above that you are not volunteering, but only wish to join the Botley Library Friends group.

Thank you for your continued support and please make sure that your friends and neighbours are aware that everyone in a household (including the under 16s) can and should fill in a separate Consultation Feedback Form.

Save Botley Library Campaign

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Campaigners cautiously optimistic after huge council U-turn on libraries

Save Botley Library's Neil Clark (centre), plus Botley library users Bashir El-Barhdadr (left) and Bill Cook (right) celebrate the good news.

The Oxford Mail reports:

ALL of Oxfordshire’s 43 libraries could be saved from closure under the new proposals unveiled yesterday.
The county council gave in after an unprecedented public backlash against a plan revealed last November to end funding for 20 branches.
It is now pledging to provide free buildings, book stocks, access to the council’s computer network and professional support from librarians to all of Oxfordshire’s libraries.
A core list of 22 libraries, including seven on the council’s original hit list, (BOTLEY LIBRARY IS ON THE 'CORE LIST' )would remain fully staffed in order to meet the council’s duty in law to provide a “comprehensive and efficient”library service.
A consultation on the new plan will last four months and no changes would be implemented until the start of the 2012-13 financial year next April.

Neil Clark, of Save Botley Library, said: “We wanted all along to keep Botley Library as a professionally run, fully-staffed public library, and I’m happy that it will be. “But as a group in solidarity with other libraries, we do not want to see any forced to take volunteers.”

He added: “We argued all the way through that the original plans were in complete breach of the council’s legal requirements, and now we feel vindicated.
“The whole thing has been really badly handled by the council.”

You can read the whole report here.

Also, another Oxford Mail report on the council's huge - and very welcome- U-turn can be read here.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Save Botley Library campaign update- election edition

Although Oxfordshire County Council announced in March that they had “torn-up” their proposals to end funding to 20 of the county’s libraries, this does not mean that Botley Library is safe from having its funding withdrawn. The Council are “rethinking” their library policy through a Public Consultation from mid-May until September, to determine how they can achieve the cost savings from the budget that was passed on 15th February. So the Save Botley Library Campaign continues and we will shortly let you know more about the Consultation and the events we will be having through the summer while this is running. Maximising the number of people completing the Consultation and telling the Council that we want Botley Library to remain open run by trained staff and librarians is essential to achieving this objective.

In the meantime we have the local council elections on Thursday 5th May and a number of the Save Botley Library Steering Group (Neil Clark, Ag MacKeith, Andrew Pritchard among others) will be standing for North Hinksey Parish Council seats. In addition our Vice-Chair, Neil Clark, will be standing as an Independent candidate in the election for the North Hinksey and Wytham Ward of the Vale of White Horse District Council. We thought it important to find out where each of the Vale DC candidates stands regarding funding for the library and the provision of space for it in the proposed Botley redevelopment so we have asked them all to reply to the following questions:

Do you support the campaign to keep Botley Library open, run by trained staff and librarians? If so, what form of support would you propose to provide to ensure that this objective is achieved?

If elected, what would you do to ensure that proposed redevelopment of the Botley shopping precinct includes provision to house the library, in a space that is at least as big as the existing facilities (and preferably larger)

We have received responses from the majority of candidates in the Ward, all of which indicate their support for keeping the library open and providing space for it in the Botley redevelopment. However we urge you to read the full text of the responses which we have published on our website. You may also wish to question candidates yourself to ensure that you are clear about their position on the Botley Library before you vote on the 5th.

Thanks to all your support we have helped to get Oxfordshire County Council to backtrack on the potential Library closure list published in November. We now need to prepare ourselves to make our opinions clear to OCC through the Public Consultation; which it is vital that we all complete if we are to Save Botley Library.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Botley library and the local elections (2)

Thursday 5th May is local elections day. Four members of the Save Botley Library steering committee, Neil Clark, Ag MacKeith, Andrew Pritchard, and Anissa Schlichting are standing for election to North Hinksey Parish Council. In addition Neil Clark is also standing as an Independent for election to the Vale of White Horse District Council. As we mentioned here yesterday, Save Botley Library Chair Mike Sage has written a letter to all six candidates in the Vale election asking for their view on library issues.

Below you can read Mike’s letter and the responses from the six candidates
(Eric Batts & Adam Hardiman (Conservative), Neil Clark (Independent) Andy Crick & Debbie Hallett (Lib Dem) and Grant Nightingale (Green Party).
15th April 2011

Dear Candidate

I am writing to you on behalf of the Save Botley Library Campaign as we are aware that you are standing as a candidate for the Vale of White Horse District Council in the forthcoming 5th May elections. We would like to understand your position on the potential withdrawal of funding from Botley Library by the County Council and the redevelopment of the area in which the library is currently housed.


Do you support the campaign to keep Botley Library open, run by trained staff and librarians? If so, what form of support would you propose to provide to ensure that this objective is achieved?

If elected, what would you do to ensure that proposed redevelopment of the Botley shopping precinct includes provision of space to house the library, that is at least as big as the existing facilities (and preferably larger)?

We would be grateful for your reply by return so that we can ensure that the supporters of our campaign across the Ward are aware of your position. Without this information they may draw the wrong conclusions about where you stand on the important issue of library provision as they cast their votes.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Sage

Chair, Save Botley Library Campaign


Adam Hardiman
50B Westminster Way
North Hinksey

Eric Batts
12 Brogden Close
North Hinksey

20 April 2011

Dear Mike Save Botley Library Campaign

Many thanks for your letter received yesterday. I am replying on behalf of myself and Eric Batts who also received a letter yesterday from you. As you might know we are both Conservative candidates for the forthcoming Vale of White Horse District elections.

Firstly, may I confirm that both of us wholeheartedly support the campaign to keep our Botley Library open run by trained staff and librarians.

If elected to the Vale the actions we shall take will include:
Meet with the Save the Botley Library Campaign for a full briefing, with regular meetings scheduled thereafter.

Meet with the OCC Cabinet Member for Libraries to establish their latest situation
Meet with Nicola Blackwood the Conservative MP with whom Eric and I already have a close rapport. She is also an ardent supporter of the campaign so the synergy resulting from Conservative Councillors working with a Conservative MP and a Conservative controlled County Council is evident and compelling.

Research which grants could be made available from the Vale. If the Conservatives take control there will clearly be an enhanced motivation for this.
Examine which external grants could be made available. North Hinksey Parish Council has considerable expertise in getting external funding (over £220,000 in the last four years). Some of this generic expertise could surely be put to use for the benefit of the library. Look into the feasibility of housing the Library temporarily in the vacant (Video) shop in the shopping centre together with the adjacent shop which will probably soon be vacated. As Vale councillors we will be good position to facilitate-this - since the Vale owns the shops.

In the longer term ensure that the Vale provides excellent space for the library, perhaps co-located with a new Parish Hall, in connection with the Vale's current re-development proposals.

We are in an excellent position to achieve this. Eric has been for many years on the North Hinksey Parish planning development committee and, if elected, plans to join the Vale Planning Committee so he can use his expert knowledge to ensure that the Botley Library gets the best possible deal. My background includes the Project Management of multi-million pound schemes which will also be put to good use if the
development goes ahead.

Finally, both Eric and I live in North Hinksey so have personal motivation for the success of the Campaign.

Yours sincerely

Adam Hardiman and Eric Batts


(by email- Neil Clark to Mike Sage)

Hi Mike,
Here's the answers:

1. Yes, absolutely. I think that privatisation/outsourcing of our library service is a very real danger- the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Keith Mitchell, has described the talks that the council has had with the American firm LSSI, as 'positive'. I totally oppose privatisation of our libraries, and the transformation of what should be a public service into a commercial, profit-making enterprise. I also totally oppose making our excellent trained library staff redundant and replacing them with unpaid volunteers. I was a founder member of the Save Botley Campaign and I am the Vice-Chair and the Press Spokesperson of the group. We`ve had great success in getting the County Council to change its original line, but the battle is not over yet, and I - together with my colleagues in the Save Botley Library campaign-will be doing all we can to keep our much-loved library open as a council-run library, staffed by trained librarians.

2. The main reason why I am standing election to the Vale is that, in their press release in February, announcing the redevelopment of West Way, the Vale made no mention of provision of a new library. They seemed to take it as a foregone conclusion that Botley Library would be closing. That angered me and made me determined to try and get elected to the Vale so I could fight the case for Botley Library from within the council. If elected, I will make myself a total nuisance until we get a written guarantee that in any new development of West Way, we will have a new library which is at least as big as the current one. I am not tied to any party and my independence means I will be able to battle 100% for Botley library and for the interests of local people. My very good links with the press will help publicise the campaign for our library, in any new development of West Way.
Independent candidate

Andy Crick
Liberal Democrat candidate, North Hinksey and Wytham
Fieldtown House, 43a Lower End, Leafield, OX29 9QH
twitter: @henleyld
20th April 2011

Dear Mike

Thanks for your letter. As you will be aware, I am a strong supporter of the 'save the libraries' campaign and I attended the demonstration at the Sheldonian Theatre on 2nd April. My support is based on my regular use of Botley Library and my conviction that libraries are an important resource for the communities they serve, not just repositories for books. Indeed, I blogged on this very point a few days ago at www.andycrick.org.uk.

To answer your specific questions:

1. I fully support the campaign to keep Botley Library open, run by trained staff and librarians. I intend to offer any support I can, from actively calling for the library to stay open, to working with County Councillor Janet Godden, to make it absolutely clear to the County Council that Botley Library is a popular, well used local amenity which must not close.

2. If I am elected I shall work with the Executive members and officers on the Vale, who will be responsible for agreeing and overseeing any new development to ensure that there remains a library of the same size in the heart of Botley. I would like to see a larger library but I believe that will be a largely operational decision for the department in Oxford which is responsible for libraries. Once again, I will work closely with Cllr Janet Godden to make representations to the County Council for a larger library and I will seek the views of residents on this matter.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further clarification on my position and please invite your supporters to contact me if they wish to discuss this further.


Andy Crick

Debby Hallett
Liberal Democrat candidate, North Hinksey and Wytham

Dear Mike,

Thank you for asking me the questions. I’m happy to take the time to reflect and reply. I hope it's OK that I'm using email over snail mail. If you'd like a proper paper letter, please let me know.

You ask: Do I support the campaign to keep Botley Library open, run by trained staff and librarians? If so, what form of support would you propose to provide to ensure that this objective is achieved?

I support the campaign unequivocally. It probably goes without saying that I am dismayed at the Conservative-led County Council’s decisions to stop many front-line services (but I’ll say it anyway). It’s preposterous to propose that our library can be run just as effectively by volunteers as by trained librarians, and it’s short-sighted to make budget savings by cutting a service that promotes literacy, research and community cohesion, all of which are of longer-term benefit to individuals and the larger society. If you cut, say, 10% of management costs or staffing levels when times are tough, it’s pretty easy to ramp them back up when things improve. A closed library will never re-open.

Yes, the government cut the county’s funding, therefore the council had to make savings. But the council’s job is to protect front-line services and to find the savings in other places. The Liberal Democrat-led Vale of White Horse Council has done exactly that: frozen the council tax, which resulted in a net loss to the district coffers (due to government’s cuts), and made savings through merged management and services with other councils, all to preserve front-line services. You won’t find a Lib-Dem-led council anywhere that has closed libraries.

If elected, I’d propose we do three things to ensure our library stays open:
1. Work with residents to plan and implement a strategy of pressure to save our library services. Your results so far have demonstrated that applying pressure is effective. (Well done, by the way!)
2. Work with others to find alternative funding strategies for libraries. As a new candidate, I’m not completely familiar with how influence works between councils, and how a councillor in the Vale can influence the County Council. But I see other counties doing it differently and getting a better result.
3. Fight to get the county to quantify the costs and benefits of a well-run library system. A systematic approach to this would benefit the library battle, but also might provide a proving ground for techniques to quantify other services that aren’t intended to be run for profit. 
How would you like to see your councillor support the fight to keep the library?

You ask: If elected, what would I do to ensure that proposed redevelopment of Botley shopping precinct includes provision of space to house the library, that is at least as big as the existing facilities (and preferably larger)?

The Vale councillors would seem to be well-placed to ensure our library is included in the redevelopment plans, as Abingdon have done with their town centre redevelopment. Again, since I’m a new candidate, I have a lot to learn about how decisions are made: What sort of research is undertaken into options, and what qualifying criteria are used to define “success”?

Recent rumblings have led me to think that the process of decision-making about the redevelopment is well under way. But I am on the outside of this at the moment, and your organisation probably knows more about it than I do. I’ve seen no information, no notices of consultation, no overview of the overall objectives of such a redevelopment.

At the moment, I see a few things lacking:
1. Communication from the Vale to the residents
2. Opportunity for input from the community as to what is wanted and needed
3. Visibility into what options are being considered and what and how decisions are being made
If elected, I will do what I can to improve on that.

What ideas do you and the supporters of your campaign have about what I could do as a Vale councillor to ensure a library is included in the redevelopment plan?

Thanks for this opportunity. I'd be interested to hear back from anyone with ideas.      


Debby Hallett
01865 240031

From: Grant Nightingale (grant@nightingale.tc) Sent: 27 April 2011 20:49:11 To: Save Botley Library Campaign (savebotleylibrary@hotmail.co.uk)

Dear Mike

Thank you for your letter of 15 April (attached), and please accept my apologies for
the delay in answering. In answer:

I agree with Save Botley Library's key aims, to keep the library under
council control, and managed by trained librarians. I would also
consider innovations which do not conflict with these aims. I would be
supportive of community-based or social-entrepreneurial approaches to
limited additional funding. Oxfordshire Green Party County Councillors have
already proposed an amendment to the County Council's budget which would provide the
full amount needed to keep all Oxfordshire libraries open. They also wish to
help create Friends groups in each community and recommend an annual festival
with Read-ins, children’s activities and fund-raising.

Regarding the redevelopment of Botley shopping precinct, I believe the Library
should be retained on site, and maintained during the development. I
would lobby the Vale and developers to ensure a suitable home for the
Library throughout.

Many thanks for your interest


Friday, 29 April 2011

Botley library and the local elections

Thursday 5th May is local elections day and four members of the Save Botley Library Steering Group (Neil Clark, Ag MacKeith, Andrew Pritchard and Anissa Schlichting), will be standing for North Hinksey Parish Council seats. These candidates, who have given up many hours of their spare time to campaign for our library, are 100% committed to keeping Botley library open as a council-owned library run by trained, paid staff.

In addition our Vice-Chair and Press Spokesperson, Neil Clark, is standing as an Independent candidate in the election for the North Hinksey and Wytham Ward of the Vale of White Horse District Council.

Mike Sage, Chair of Save Botley Library, has written a letter to all the candidates for the Vale election asking for their views on the library issue. The letter and the candidates’ responses will be published here shortly.

Remember, the question to ask any candidates who comes knocking on your door is: ‘Do you support Botley library staying open as a council-owned (ie non privatised) library staffed by paid, trained librarians (ie not by unpaid volunteers)'? It’s very easy for candidates to say they ‘support’ Botley library-(who after all is going to say that they don’t ’support’ Botley library), but they need to make it absolutely clear what that ‘support’ means.

With Oxfordshire County Council having been in talks with the American firm LSSI, about them taking over our library service, the threat of privatisation/outsourcing is very real.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

"Charge for parking outside County Hall and save libraries"

This report by Rhianne Pope appears in the Oxford Mail.

COUNCILLORS could raise more than £170,000 a year and keep eight libraries open if they gave up free parking at County Hall, claims a library campaigner.

Mark McArthur-Christie, who says that if the County Council charged for the spaces outside County Hall they would raise £170,000 per year.

Neil Clark, from the Save Botley Library campaign, said: “Everyone else has to pay for parking so why not the council?  “We do not think any frontline services need to be cut.
“We should look at councillors’ parking and their salaries before we look at cutting anything else. We shouldn’t be even discussing this.”
He added: “This is another example of the council being ‘do as we say and not as we do’. It is a real them and us attitude.”
“Instead of looking at themselves and how they could raise money, they are instead cutting services.”

Council spokesman Gemma Watts said: “The council has not considered this. However, it is working hard to keep Oxfordshire’s libraries open.”

She added: “A full consultation will begin in May.”

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Oxfordshire County Council in semi u-turn on libraries

The BBC reports:

Plans to cut funding to a specific number of libraries in Oxfordshire have been "torn up", according to council leader Keith Mitchell.

In November, the conservative-led administration said money for nearly half of the public libraries could be axed under budget cuts.

But now Mr Mitchell has said: "We've got a little bit more money so we take a little bit more time."

You can read the Oxford Times report on this story here. 

While the news that the council has torn up its closure plans is undoubtedly welcome, the battle to keep our libraries open as council-run, professionally staffed libraries, is not over yet.

Keith Mitchell is still talking about the possibility of  'volunteers' running libraries and he says that privatisating the library network (the council has been in talks with the American company LSSI), remains an option.
Still, his tone is rather different to the one he adopted on the libraries issue back in November. Could it be that there are local elections coming up, by any chance?!!

Save Botley Library’s Neil Clark can be heard talking about the council’s semi-U- turn, on Radio Oxford’s Drive Time programme here. The interview with Neil starts at around 1 hour 7 minutes into the programme. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Don't Privatise Our Libraries

This article by Save Botley Library’s Neil Clark, appears on the Guardian Comment is Free website.

"Save our libraries" has been one of the slogans of 2011, as local residents fight to preserve much-loved community assets against the government's cutbacks. But there's another threat hanging over Britain's public library service: that of privatisation. The idea of privatised libraries would have been unthinkable in the mixed economy and genuinely progressive 1960s and 70s, but it shows how far down the road marked "neo-liberal extremism" we have travelled since 1979, that they're now very much on the agenda.

You can read the whole article here.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Campaigners back library innovations, so long as libraries stay in council control

Chris Buratta in the Oxford Mail reports:

CAMPAIGNERS fighting library funding cuts in Oxfordshire have welcomed a move by councillors to look at an innovative London project which kept branches open.

Senior members of Oxfordshire County Council are due to visit Hillingdon, in the west of London, later this month to find out how the authority overhauled its library service, as revealed in Monday’s Oxford Mail. 
The 19 campaign groups fighting to save libraries across Oxfordshire have formed an alliance and most have vowed not to apply for county council cash to help run branches with volunteers.

They want them to remain open as part of the council’s library network and say they would welcome any innovations that help to achieve that goal.

Neil Clark,of the Save Botley Library campaign, said: “As long as it stays in council control, we’re open to these ideas.”  Mr Clark said from a personal perspective he did not like the idea of coffee bars in libraries but said that compromises should be explored if they could halt the threat of closures.

He said: “It’s not necessarily what we’re campaigning for.  “We’re fighting library closures and the breaking-up of the network.  “But we’re open to looking at innovation within the library system.”

You can read the whole report here.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Oxfordshire Library campaigners will not apply for Big Society money

The Herald reports

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”.

Oxfordshire County Council has voted to cut £2m from the library service’s annual budget over four years. It wants to stop funding 20 branches across Oxfordshire, but has set aside £600,000 to help volunteers run their own community libraries.

However, campaigners at all of Oxford’s threatened libraries — Blackbird Leys, Botley, Headington, Littlemore, Old Marston, and Summertown — have said they will not apply for the cash.

Read the whole article here.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Library campaigners mount legal challenges to closures

The Guardian reports:

Pressure is building on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over library closures, with the mounting of two new legal challenges.

Campaign for the Book, the pro-library campaign body run by author Alan Gibbons, has launched a judicial review case through solicitors, arguing that the culture secretary has failed to comply with his legal duty to superintend local authorities in their provision of proper library services to their residents.

You can read the full article by Benedicte Page here.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The County Council's own report: Elderly at risk of greater isolation due to library cuts

The Oxford Times reports:

Oxfordshire County Council's decision to withdraw funding from 20 libraries could increase the risk of isolation among the county’s elderly.

This is the conclusion in a report by the county council’s own officers.

The warning is contained in an assessment of the impact of £119m of county council spending cuts that were approved last week.

The council is required by law to carry out and publish these assessments. In their assessment of the impact of withdrawing funding for 20 of the county’s 43 libraries council officers say: “There is a great risk that the loss of suburban and rural libraries could contribute towards a greater isolation for older people.”

The report on libraries is dated January 17, 2011, and was considered by councillors before they approved the county’s budget last week.

Friday, 25 February 2011

‘Library closures will cause isolation’

The Henley Standard reports:

COUNCIL chiefs planning to close almost half of Oxfordshire’s public libraries admit the move would cut off rural communities.
Documents seen by the Standard state the proposals would “not fully address socio-economic need” and “not fully address rural isolation”.

The papers were obtained with a Freedom of Information request made by the Friends of Sonning Common library, one of three in South Oxfordshire facing closure if their funding is withdrawn.

Of course it's not just in rural areas where library closures would cause isolation. In Botley, our much-loved library is a community hub, our area's only non-denominational community asset.  A place where people go not just to exchange books, but to read the newspapers, go on the computers and have a friendly chat with the librarians. The closure of Botley library would be a massive loss to our community, leading to increased social isolation in our area. This is why the Save Botley Library campaign- and the thousands of local residents whom we represent- are so opposed to the county council's proposals.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Dr Diana Sanders: Council leader’s argument is ‘pathetic’

This report on another embarrassing ‘foot in mouth’ incident from Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell, appears in the Oxford Mail.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Library campaigners say No to Privatised libraries!

The Oxford Mail reports:

LIBRARY campaigners criticised county council talks with a US firm which claims it can save at least some of the 20 branches under threat.

Councillors voted through £2m-a-year cuts to the library service on Tuesday, but negotiations are still going on with outsourcing company Library Systems and Service (LSSI).

But groups opposing council cuts said outsourcing would destroy the library service.

Jonathan Hood, chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library, said campaigners had been contacted by Californian activists opposed to LSSI taking over libraries in the state.
The American campaigners claim outsourcing to LSSI had led to declines in service and resources, charges for inter-library loans, and worse terms and conditions for staff.

Mr Hood said: “We are concerned at the fact the council is even talking to LSSI.
“At the moment, Summertown Library is a community resource where people go to meet or just sit in the garden.
“These are not going to be things LSSI would be keen to fund.
“Under an outsourcing firm, it may remain an efficient system for borrowing books, but libraries are far more than that.”

Neil Clark, of Save Botley Library, said: “The whole ethos of the library service would change if a private company ran it to make profits rather than as a public service.
“Outsourcing would mean losing branches and the end of the library service as we know it.”

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Save Botley Library Campaign's speech to Oxfordshire County Council

This speech was delivered by Mike Sage, chair of the The Save Botley Library campaign, to Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday 15th February 2011.

I’m sure that you will be pleased to hear that I do not plan to use the short time that I have been given to list all of the many reasons why Botley – and the other 19 Libraries under threat of closure – should remain open, run by trained staff and librarians.

No Library Campaign is asking for libraries to be maintained by making additional cuts in other services. We are however calling upon the Council to be innovative in finding additional sources of funding for Libraries, either from central Government or from elsewhere, to add to those recently announced.

This will allow Botley and all of the other Oxfordshire Libraries to remain open, as part of an integrated network, run by trained staff and librarians providing the library service that Oxfordshire deserves.
The Save Botley Library Campaign does not support a two tier library system for Oxfordshire with 23 professionally run, Council managed, integrated libraries and a further 20 isolated, volunteer run book clubs.

We understand that if the proposed Library funding cuts are passed in the Budget today then there will be a 12 week public consultation process. If this occurs then we seek that this process be independent and transparent so that it truly reflects the views of the citizens of Oxfordshire and does not become a self justification for the proposals that have already been made.

What I have come here for is to ask on behalf of the users of Botley Library who I represent and for all library users across County, is that you do what you were elected to do - represent your constituents and rethink your plans for Oxfordshire’s libraries in order to find ways of keeping them all open.
  Nor does it support the wholesale outsourcing of Libraries to the private sector, whose profit driven motives would not guarantee the long term future for any of the existing facilities.

From the public reaction which you have seen across the County you must clearly understand that the residents reject the proposals which you have made for Oxfordshire Libraries. In Botley alone over 3500 people have to date signed a petition to keep their Library open, run by trained staff and librarians. In addition we have today delivered to Councillor Mitchell around 225 letters of protest from the residents of Botley and the surrounding area.

As intelligent people you understand that a library is more than just a place for lending out books. In Botley it is part of the local community and provides the only non-denominational place where people of all ages, socio-economic groups and political persuasions can come together. It is a place where people are welcomed to an environment staffed by professionally trained local people, who after many years of working there have extensive knowledge of the area and provide a wide range of services to assist people to access the information and entertainment that they need.

I’m sure that you are also well aware that the library is used by local primary schools during lesson time, which are part of the schools Community Cohesion role, an essential requirement for OFSTED grading. It is also an important out of school learning environment for children of all ages, including providing a safe place for teenagers to do their homework and computers for those who do not have access at home to do on-line research.

I know that you actually do understand why the “hub” system that has been proposed for Oxfordshire libraries will not provide a suitable ease and affordability of access for the elderly, the disabled and parents with small children, to name but a few.

Sitting here in Oxford and the seat of learning which it represents, I’m sure you will not want to be remembered as the Dr Beechings of the County’s libraries – those who dealt an unrecoverable death blow to 20 of Oxfordshire’s libraries.
                                                                            Thank You.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Conservatives vote for destruction of Oxfordshire's public library service

The Conservative-dominated Oxfordshire county council voted today to pass the Conservative cabinet's budget, which provides for £2m cuts to our library service and the withdrawal of funding for 20 of our libraries- including Botley.

Does this mean that our battle to Save Botley Library is over?  Far from it. There now follows a two month period of consulation. During that time, we will be redoubling our efforts to Save Botley library and to exert maximum pressure on the county council cabinet to change their mind. Those county councillors who shamefully voted for the budget today, ignoring the views of their constituents, need to be made aware that if they don't change their policy, they are likely to face challenges by anti-cuts and library campaigners at the next local elections. Considering that most only got elected on a very small turnout, they would be very vulnerable to being unseated by independent candidates, campaigning on popular local issues and not taking their cue from No 10 Downing Street.

We're told that the issue of library closures are not 'political', but the fact is that it is the Conservatives who are the ones who are threatening our library service. And the Conservative Party in Oxfordshire (and that includes Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon), must understand that they will pay a very heavy price at the next elections unless they change their approach and start listening to people.

UPDATE: It's not just the Conservative County Council which is threatening the future of our much loved library. It's the Lib Dem controlled Vale of White Horse District Council, too:

The Oxford Mail reports:

A TWO-ACRE site has been put up for sale to create a new shopping quarter in Botley.

Vale of White Horse District Council
wants to sell a site next to West Way Shopping Centre to tempt developers and major retailers to help regenerate the area.  The plot is currently home to Botley Baptist Church, Seacourt Hall and Botley Library

The Vale's own press release states:

At this preliminary stage it is intended that Botley Baptist Church will be relocated off-site in suitable alternative premises. It is expected that the reprovision of Seacourt Hall will be included as part of the agreement to develop the site. 

Botley public library, which is part of the existing site, not owned by the Vale, is currently designated for closure by Oxfordshire County Council,

So no word, at this stage anyway, that 'reprovision of Botley Library will be included as part of the agreement to develop the site'.

The Vale of White Horse District Council seems to think  that the closure of Botley Library is a fait accompli. We'll show them about that!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Local schoolchildren show their love for Botley library on St Valentine's Day!

This morning, the Save Botley Library campaign took along the many wonderful St Valentine's Day cards,  that local schoolchildren had designed, to County Hall in Oxford. We also brought along our Petition To Save Botley Library Book- the number of signatures is now heading towards 4,000!

The tv cameras and press were there, and you can watch a report of the events on the BBC South Today programme which follows tonight's main 6 0'clock news on BBC1.

This afternoon, local children and Save Botley Library campaigners handed in Valentine's Cards to the staff at Botley Library, to show how much they love them.

Tomorrow is the day that Oxfordshire County Council sets the budget, so do try and come along for the lobby of the council at 8.30am!


Friday, 11 February 2011

A great week for our campaign!

Well, what a week it has been for the Save Botley Library campaign!

On Saturday, we had the wonderfully successful Read-In, featuring Philip Pullman and Julia Golding.

The Read-Ins were hugely successful not just in Botley, but around the county, and lo and behold a couple of days after this tremendous show of support for our threatened public libraries, the county council finds it has a bit more cash after all!

Wednesday's Oxford Mail reported:

A one-off pot of £450,000 has been created to fund services that residents want to escape the axe, based on consultations to be held in the summer.

The report quoted Save Botley Library’s Neil Clark who said: “We are not interested in privatisation by a US multi-national or volunteer groups. We want them to reverse the policy, end of story.”

Then yesterday, we learnt that another £300,000 has been found!

The Oxford Mail reported:

MORE cash has been promised for Oxfordshire’s threatened libraries after County Hall netted its second Government windfall of the week.

The new money that the county council has found is of course nowhere near enough, but it is a step in the right direction and a sign that our campaign is working.

In the lead up to Tuesday’s important budget vote we must do all we can to put pressure on county councillors to vote against the Conservative cabinet's budget proposals and protect the future of Oxfordshire’s council-run library service!

So please carry on with your letter-writing and emails to council leader Keith Mitchell and Nicola Blackwood MP, and other councillors who may be planning to vote for the budget. (some useful addresses can be found here). And do try and attend tomorrow's big march in Oxford against the county council's planned cuts, organised by the Anti-Cuts Alliance, which starts at Manzil Way, Cowley at 11.30am.

You can hear Neil Clark of Save Botley Library campaign speaking on Radio Oxford's Phil Gayle Breakfast Show here (the feature on libraries comes in at 23.30 minutes into the programme). Later on, at about 45 minutes into the programme, you can hear another Save Botley Library campaigner, Gawain Little, make the case against cuts to local services.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Love Song for my Local Library by Julia Golding

Published here, by kind permission of the author, is the poem specially written by Julia Golding for her Read-In at Botley Library on Saturday. Many thanks Julia for your lovely poem and for your support on Saturday!

You were my first pick-‘n-mix
A box of delights
A place to be a brave explorer
Maker of mistakes – at no cost.
Ant and Bee, Baba Papa
Marmalade sandwiches with a lost bear.
You were my first wardrobe
Containing my ballet shoes
My necklace of raindrops
And a worn calico print dress on the prairie.
You were my first suitcase
packed ready to see the world,
Taking me down the bright stream
Into a midnight garden
And to the house called Green Knowe.
You were my first Valentine’s card
An introduction to suitable (and unsuitable) boys
Dickon, the lad with earthy hands
Gilbert, undeterred by a girl who dyed her hair green
Eustace Scrubb who travelled a magic sea seeking
The British Consul.
If you go, there will be no secret garden for my children
Moonfleet beach will empty of smugglers
The Last Unicorn will be but a rumour.
Will we let the curtain swish
closed on our library?
Shut the way through the woods?
We want to encourage a hobbit of reading
Leave everything just so
A never-ending story…

Monday, 7 February 2011

Hundreds join forces against threat of library closures!

TOP authors and hundreds of people across Oxfordshire sent a clear message to County Hall on Saturday: Hands off our libraries!

You can read the whole of the Oxford Mail’s report on Saturday’s Save Our Libraries Day here.

Above is a picture of award-winning writers Philip Pullman and Julia Golding who took part in the hugely successful Read-In at Botley Library on Saturday.

Many thanks again  to everyone who gave their support and who made the day such a great success!


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Botley Library Read-In is a huge success!

Yesterday’s Read-In was a huge success, attracting both local and national media coverage!

Thank you to everyone who attended and who gave their support!

A full report with photographs will be posted shortly, but in the meantime, you can read about the Read-In  in the Guardian here, (scroll down to read reporter Hannah Freeman's comments at 11.28am and 11.43am (Hannah also posts a lovely picture of our Fountain of Knowledge!),
and in the Sunday Telegraph here.

There's a great report by Vanessa Thorpe in The Observer too.

Philip Pullman, who spoke publicly against the cuts last month, attended a reading at the threatened Botley Library, close to his home in the Oxfordshire village of Cumnor. The small building is not the kind of library usually associated with the university town. There are no dreaming spires here. Inside at 2.30pm yesterday , six users, of ages ranging from 11 to 68, were busy taking out books or using the computer terminals. A 56-year-old academic from Cumnor said she was "outraged… It is a mixed community here, as it should be. Much more real town than gown. This library is for people who don't have books at home. It is a matter of social justice."

The success of yesterday's Save our Libraries Day, and the great local and national publicity it received, will I hope, not go unnoticed by Oxfordshire County Councillors and Oxford West MP Nicola Blackwood.

There is no public support for Oxfordshire County Council's proposals to withdraw funding for 20 libraries in the county and we hope that after yesterday's great show of support for the libraries campaign, they will reconsider their position.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Authors Philip Pullman and Julia Golding to read in Botley library on Saturday!

Author Philp Pullman, whose speech at Oxford Town Hall two weeks ago in defence of Oxfordshire's threatened libraries has become an internet sensation (and was also published in the Guardian newspaper), will take part in a Read-In at Botley Library tomorrow (Saturday) at 11.am.

The Save Botley Library campaign are also delighted that the popular children's author Julia Golding will also be reading at our library, at 11.30am.

Other activites include petition signing, the creation of a Fountain of Knowledge, a reading by local school children of poems they have wrtten and face painting for children.

Come along and join in the fun and show your support for our much-loved library!

Tomorrow's event is co-organised by Save the Botley Library campaign and the Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Petition to save Botley library gathers 400 signatures

Ben Wilkinson of the Oxford Mail writes:

CAMPAIGNERS are aiming to collect 2,000 signatures to fight plans to close their library.

And the supporters of the campaign to save Botley Library, in Oxford, are already a fifth of the way towards their target after signing up 400 readers and shoppers on Saturday.

Oxfordshire County Council  wants to remove funding from 20 of the county’s 43 libraries to save £2m over four years. It has called on charities and volunteers to run libraries instead with some council cash support.

But those battling the cuts in Botley have vowed to knock on every door in the area, and present the signatures to county Council leader Keith Mitchell.

Conservative Mr Mitchell has said petitions would “not be effective” as the council does not have enough cash to keep the libraries open. But campaigner organiser Neil Clark said opponents of the move would carry on regardless.

He said: “Mr Mitchell said there is no point in doing petitions. We are going to show him what democracy is about. “It is not a waste of time and we are going to get as many signatures as we can.” 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Oxford Mail report on Saturday's petition signing and letter writing event

A full report (and photographs) of our very successful day of petition signing and letter writing appears in today's (Tuesday's) Oxford Mail. Unfortunately the report is not yet available on line, but a copy of the article will be posted later.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Save Botley Library Campaign to be featured on today's BBC tv News!

Many thanks to everyone who helped with yesterday’s extremely successful petition signing and letter writing event in Botley. And many thanks to everyone who signed our petition and who signed/wrote letters to Cllr Keith Mitchell and Nicola Blackwood MP.

A report on yesterday’s activities will be broadcast on the ‘South Today’ programme following today’s (Sunday’s) BBC1 News Bulletin at 5.30pm.

Our campaign also featured as the lead story on yesterday morning’s Radio Oxford News Bulletins.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Petition signing and letter writing in Botley this Saturday!

The Save Botley Library campaign will be holding a petition signing and letter writing event in Seacourt Hall and the Pagoda in Botley precint on Saturday (29th January), from 9am-1pm. The letters, expressing opposition to the county council's plans to cease funding for Botley- and 19 other Oxfordshire libraries, will be addressed to County Council leader Keith Mitchell, and local MP Nicola Blackwood.

Come along and join the fight to save our library!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Philip Pullman: Leave Our Libraries Alone

On 20th January, best-selling author and local resident Philip Pullman addressed a packed meeting in Oxford Town Hall called by the Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance to defend our county's threatened libraries. Here is an extract from his truly inspirational speech. And you can read a full account of the meeting here, including the contribution made by Save Botley Library spokesperson Neil Clark.

You don’t need me to give you the facts. Everyone here is aware of the situation. The government, in the Dickensian person of Mr Eric Pickles, has cut the money it gives to local government, and passed on the responsibility for making the savings to local authorities. Some of them have responded enthusiastically, some less so; some have decided to protect their library service, others have hacked into theirs like the fanatical Bishop Theophilus in the year 391 laying waste to the Library of Alexandria and its hundreds of thousands of books of learning and scholarship.

Here in Oxfordshire we are threatened with the closure of 20 out of our 43 public libraries. Mr Keith Mitchell, the leader of the county council, said in the Oxford Times last week that the cuts are inevitable, and invites us to suggest what we would do instead. What would we cut? Would we sacrifice care for the elderly? Or would youth services feel the axe?

I don’t think we should accept his invitation. It’s not our job to cut services. It’s his job to protect them.

Nor do I think we should respond to the fatuous idea that libraries can stay open if they’re staffed by volunteers. What patronising nonsense. Does he think the job of a librarian is so simple, so empty of content, that anyone can step up and do it for a thank-you and a cup of tea? Does he think that all a librarian does is to tidy the shelves? And who are these volunteers? Who are these people whose lives are so empty, whose time spreads out in front of them like the limitless steppes of central Asia, who have no families to look after, no jobs to do, no responsibilities of any sort, and yet are so wealthy that they can commit hours of their time every week to working for nothing?

You can read the whole of Philip Pullman‘s inspirational speech here.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Oxfordshire County Council has proposed that 20 libraries in the county including Botley Library, will close unless volunteers step forward to run them. On 13th January around 400 people attended the Parish Council Meeting in St Peter and Paul Church in Botley regarding this closure.

After the meeting the Save the Botley Library campaign was formed.

The Save Botley Library campaign has been set up to fight against proposals to either close Botley Library or for it to be transferred to the responsibility of the local community. The campaign opposes both of these options and seeks to ensure that the Botley library remains an active part of the Oxfordshire Library group, staffed by professional librarians.

If Botley library were to close, the nearest library to Botley would be the Oxford Central library, meaning either a bus journey or car trip, making the library visit a significantly longer process.

The Council proposal total ignores the role of Botley Library as part of our community, which is much more than the issuing of books. This is borne out by the fact that the number of visits to the library exceed to number of books issue. The professional librarians at Botley provide advice not only through books in the reference library, but also for those who do not have access to the Internet and e-mail at home. The library provides the only facility to book time on computers in Botley, which the council made much of at the time of introduction. It is also the only place in Botley to hire DVDs and to make photocopies. The library is also used by local Primary Schools during lesson time, a facility highly valued by the school and pupils alike. The suggestion from the Council that improvements in school libraries make up for this is vacuous.
Please join our campaign to help ensure that this much-loved community facility remains open and staffed by professional librarians.

If we all work together we can win!


1. Join our campaign. Get in touch with us by emailing savebotleylibrary@hotmail.co.uk


In the first instance, you can contact the following to express your opposition to the County Council‘s policy on libraries. A letter has much more impact than an email, but an email is better than nothing! (In any case, it will be helpful if you can copy your email/letter to this address: (savebotleylibrary@hotmail.co.uk)
To the County Council:

Cllr Keith Mitchell,
Leader of Oxfordshire County Council,
County Hall,
Oxford OX1 1ND
Email: keith.mitchell@oxfordshire.gov.uk
and  leader@oxfordshire.gov.uk

John Jackson, Director for Social and Community Services
Social and Community Services,
County Hall,
New Road,
Oxford, OX1 1ND
Email: john.jackson@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Our local MP:

Nicola Blackwood MP
House of Commons,

3. Sign both the paper petition and the online petition to Save Botley library. (the petition expires on 27th January).