FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM ( FOLOB ) SUBMISSION TO BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL REGARDING THE PROPOSED CUTS TO THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM (LOB ) IN THE BUDGET PROPOSALS FOR 2015-16. 1) INTRODUCTION
This submission must be seen in the context of the following :
i)The oral questions submitted during the budget consultation to the council both at full council & at the two consultation hearings
ii) The Facebook & twitter comments that have generated massive social media interest & can be accessed via a variety of sites & not least the BCC dedicated twitter site for this consultation #BrumBudget15
iii) The individual emails & twitter messages that Cllrs have received & not least the interaction of & by individual Cllrs to those messages.
iv) The massive press coverage of the cuts to the LoB. This has been local, regional & national. Recently the Times Newspaper featured a prominent letter deploring the proposed cuts to services.
v) The interest of the both ITN & BBC in this story. The local radio coverage All of the above should be taken into account along with the hard-copy petition we have generated. This has been signed by over 1,500 people and the on-line petition signed by over 2,500 people. Running alongside are the individual submissions we have seen & sent to local Ward Cllrs & the specific emails addressed to Cllr Penny Holbrook, Cllr Sir Albert Bore & Cllr Ian Ward. All of these submissions were passionate about the LoB.
Coupled with this was the large public meeting at the LoB (7 January) which attracted over 200 attendees who unanimously voiced their support for the LoB & called upon the BCC to reverse the cuts to the LoB. The proposed cuts to the LoB are not about efficiencies . They are about a straightforward cut to services. This is at heart of the proposal. It is on that specific topic we focus some of our representations.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE PROPOSED CUTS
i) Opening Hours Access to the LoB is to be massively reduced. This truncated service will deny the vast amount of working people access to the LoB. It is proposed that most evening opening will be curtailed. The LoB will open later in the day & close earlier. Those who do take the day off from work to access the library will have even less time to use it.
It is proposed that Sunday opening is stopped . This does not reflect the way that work has changed for so many people in recent times. Many people will be juggling work, family commitments & fail to find a time when the LoB will be open for them. Those few hours after work provide the opportunity for to study & gain further qualifications, and to access the internet to access the internet -only services that BCC increasingly offers.
So in this context we say that the opening hours & the connectivity & the staff expertise are central to the modern citizen’s ability properly to engage with not only their community but with the wider world. A failure to allow this would harm not just the individual but all of the community who will see a loss of skills, of aspiration & of economic development.
ii) Other Issues
In addition to the consequences of reduced hours, think of the following as central to why a library of this sort is vital –
- * a place where young people can study quietly & in safety *
- a place where the atmosphere is conducive to learning & widening experience of your community & the world. *
- an environment that is non-judgemental & allows you to learn at your pace & with like-minded people *
- an atmosphere where writers’ groups flourish & free expression is fostered *
- a children’s library that offers expertise & a child-friendly place for taking those first steps to reading & ultimately education *
- exhibition spaces where through the expertise of curators you learn about the LoB & its archival secrets * a set of experts who can point you in the right direction & will have time to give advice *
- a music library that allows your orchestra or choir to borrow scores that are outside the reach of other than professional groups. * above all a place to be warm, to think & to make friends.
This submission is about people. People who signed this petition & wanted us to know we should carry on & make this impassioned plea that these cuts are reversed.
Please acknowledge that the LoB is a jewel but set in the crown. We have it. We are proud of it. The nation admires & is envious of it. LoB is a key part of the citywide library service and all libraries whether the LoB or Community Libraries, are regarded as highly valued assets by the people of Birmingham.
Birmingham needs the LoB. The people of Birmingham, the users need it. We as a city need the users’ skills, their future expertise & their commitment to Birmingham if we are to flourish.
Closing the library for long periods of time is wrong. We know it and the users know it. The region knows it. It will make no economic sense in the long term.
Consultation is about listening. Please listen to these voices. They need to be heard. They need to know that their representatives will listen.
Real leadership is a willingness to change course and this is one where you must listen and restore this library to its rightful place as an emblematic sign that Birmingham is open for business, open for ideas & most definitely open – all of the time – for the future of the residents & their families in the future.
So we call upon Birmingham City Council to REVERSE your proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham & our Community Libraries. Invest in our city & our futures