Question to Birmingham City Council from Birmingham Libraries Campaigns
In an article in last week’s Birmingham Mail there was a report about the theft of lead from the roof of Bloomsbury library in Nechells. The article also reported an anonymous library worker who stated ‘We were told the library was closing down for good and that staff would be transferred to other libraries.’ Bloomsbury Library is in a ward of high deprivation and literacy need. Can you please clarify what the library workers were told by Library managers about the future of the library and confirm when Bloomsbury library will be repaired and re-opened?
Response – Cllr Yvonne Mosquito, Executive Member for Local Services, Ladywood District
The library service is a priority for all the Elected Members in Ladywood Constituency, and specifically for my Ward colleagues in Nechells as we understand that libraries offer a gateway into a different perspective of the world.
Sadly, Bloomsbury Library has been closed to the public primarily because the heating system has broken down and cannot be easily repaired, and the library roof has been in need of renovation for some years. In 2010 capital money was identified for repairs but before work could start the resources were reallocated to other projects by the previous Administration.
Since then, the building has suffered from repeated water damage, and this has affected the electrics, soft furnishings, and internal ceilings, causing the closure of the public toilets and the lift. As a temporary measure, tarpaulins were put in place last year to protect the worst areas of the roof, but further damage was then caused by the theft of lead from the roof.
All the local councillors are very well aware of the levels of deprivation in the area, and the value of this service to the community, and for that reason I have instructed officers to look at providing an alternative service from another site in the area. In the meantime, the Mobile Library service will allow local residents to continue to borrow books; and of course they are free to use any of the city’s other libraries including the Library of Birmingham, or our nearest neighbouring libraries (Small Heath; Ward End; Aston).
No decisions have yet been made about the future of Bloomsbury Library but it cannot be re-opened in its present condition, and no capital resources have been identified to fund repairs. Staff are aware of the position and are being redeployed in other libraries within the District on a temporary basis. They have been told that there is a possibility of a service running from Nechells Green Community Centre in the interim (a service has run from there in the past) and the assumption is that the staff would transfer to that site – and they will also work from the mobile library when it calls in the area.
19th November 2013