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.