MINUTES OF PLANNING MEETING 3 SEPTEMBER 2018
Present : Mary Wilkins (Acting Chair); Graham Childs; Philippa Hands; Stephen King;
Stuart Richardson; Martin Sullivan (Secretary)
Apologies: Ann Gallagher; Lynn Gregory; Janet Moir; Naomi Paul; Sarah Teversham;
Philippa Webster; Bob Whitehead (Chair)
1 MINUTES OF MEETING of 2 JULY – Agreed as accurate
2 WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
2.1 The group discussed what its next steps should be to secure its core aim : to change the BCC Cabinet’s policy on the funding of the library service by restoring it to its previous level. We had achieved as much as we could towards this aim but there were many obstacles to making the final step, despite the evidence of strong public support. Points raised included :
- i) the possibility that the new Ward Forums, which could be in operation by April 2019, could provide a vehicle to press our case
- ii) the BCC localism initiative proposed involvement in the local implementation of policies developed by BCC committees without any community participation in decision-making at strategic level. Parts of it seemed to draw on David Cameron’s Big Society initiative, aimed at moving volunteers into work previously undertaken by paid public sector employees
iii) The data on library use forwarded by Richard Hatcher showed the following figures for the percentage of the population of the West Midlands making at least one visit to a library in a year (figures are to the year ending in June): 2006 : 48%; 2017 : 34%; 2018 : 31%. In other words, 69% of the WM population never visited a library
- iv) we should have closer involvement with Birmingham Against The Cuts
- v) no libraries had been closed but they had been hollowed out and conditions had deteriorated for staff and users. There were rumours that BCC was contemplating closures because of the high costs of necessary repairs and refurbishments.
- vi) we needed people to manage our presence on social media
vii) we should be organised in such a way that we could react strongly and speedily to major events such as library closures or other cuts
2.2 Agreed: to put the following package of proposals to the AGM in November:
- i) to use the new Ward Forums, and any citywide bodies which might be formed, to pursue our case. We should publicise meeting dates and brief supporters to attend and to raise specific issues
- ii) closer involvement with BATC – send reports and a representative to BATC meetings
iii) consider meeting every two months instead of monthly
- iv) greater involvement with trades unions, starting with affiliations
- v) using the new Ward Forums and any other new bodies in the BCC structure /cont.
- vi) activating our social media
vii) continuing the regular meetings with BCC
3 COMMUNITY LIBRARIES
- i) Sutton Coldfield – our forecast of the consequences of the installation of a café and children’s play area were accurate – the noise level is high, deterring many users- it is now mainly used for PCs and by parents and children; it is not really operating as a library. No evidence that café and play users have any interest in the library. There is still no sign of a tenant for the second floor.
- ii) Stirchley – the establishment of a volunteer network highlighted BCC’s negligence in failing to produce a revised policy on library volunteers,
iii) Bartley Green – the secrecy in which the long-delayed establishment of a community centre in this tiny library was alarming. Our concern was that the library would be squeezed into a corner and that the role of volunteers would involve duties currently undertaken by paid staff.
- iv) Erdington – becoming more of a DWP centre than a library, the area of which had been moved to one side to accommodate this. There were similar issues re DWP in other libraries
- v) Aston – there were issues about staffing levels and other matters re this library
- vi) Birchfield – there had been an assault at this library, which had been reported to the police. There was verbal abuse at many libraries, especially during the lunch hour when services were reduced.
vii) volunteerism – Unison officers were taking up this issue on a number of fronts with BCC
4 OTHER ITEMS
- i) future of regular meetings with BCC: Agreed – to continue with these as they gave a useful means of direct contact with BCC when we needed to raise issues
- ii) AGM: 5.30 p.m. on Monday 5 November. A draft annual report would be put to our October meeting
iii) interview with South Birmingham Radio – Bob Whitehead did an interview and phone-in on 27 July on the issue of West Heath Library (BCC’s promise to rebuild this library after its demolition had been broken, and the plan to install a library area in Oddingley Hall had been repeatedly delayed).
iv) affiliations – we should seek more, starting with the Trades Council.
- v) finance report – the bank balance is £324.45
- vi) nursery closure protest at BCC meeting at 11 p.m. on Tuesday 11 September – a library speaker would be welcome at this rally
5 FUTURE MEETINGS 2018-2019 (all on Mondays at 5.30 p.m.)
|1 Oct||5 Nov AGM||3 Dec||7 Jan||4 Feb|
|4 March||1 April||13 May||3 June||1 July|
5 September 2018
FoLoB AGM November 2016. Reports & Minutes.
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARIES OF BIRMINGHAM
|SAVE ASTON LIBRARY!|
Aston Library is due to close on 31 March 2017, as part of a package of cuts to the community libraries proposed by Birmingham City Council (BCC). The consultation period for the package ends on 31 January, so if you object to losing this library, you need to take action soon.
The building which BCC rents for Aston Library is up for sale. Rather than find another location in Aston, BCC prefers to close it on the grounds that Birchfield Library is ‘only’ a 20 minute walk away (that’s a 40 minute round trip), and so would be a reasonable replacement for Aston Library. Are you happy with this?
One of the points made to us frequently during this consultation is that for many, the location of a community library is as important as the facilities it offers. Aston Library – described by BCC in its report as ‘well used’ – is embedded in the community it serves. People can walk to it from their homes, parents are happy to let their children walk to it to browse and do homework, it is not too far for many elderly people and some people with disabilities. This would not be the case if the nearest library was Birchfield. There is no benefit in providing a ‘better’ library for a community if it is not within manageable reach of many of its residents.
We have suggested that instead of putting Birchfield in the most highly resourced Tier 1, BCC should find another location for a library in Aston and fund them both at Tier 2 level.
What can you do to try to keep a library in Aston open?
- contact your councillors and ask them to speak up for Aston in the council and with their party colleagues. Your councillors are :
- Cllr Muhammad Afzal – email@example.com Cllr Ziaul Islam – firstname.lastname@example.org Cllr Nagina Kauser – email@example.com
- get signatures for our petition from your community
- receive our newsletters by sending us your e-address (contact details overleaf)
- look at our website and Facebook site and follow us on Twitter DO ALL THIS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! ONCE A LIBRARY HAS GONE, YOU WILL NEVER GET IT BACK
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM
PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 2016
TIME TO END THE RUN-DOWN OF THE LIBRARY SERVICE
‘We have done the best we can to protect the city library service; the cuts could have been worse’, is the view of the Council leadership, and ‘the problem is caused by the huge cuts to the Birmingham rate support grant from central government, causing acute financial difficulties for the council’.
The Friends of the Library of Birmingham are well aware of the year-on-year assault on Birmingham’s local government finance. However, we cannot accept that this new cut of £1.9 million to the city community libraries is justified and we are calling for it to be rejected. After all, this is a relatively small amount compared to the size of the council budget.
Alongside the big cuts to the new Library of Birmingham, which has seen a hundred of its staff being sacked and the loss of a whole floor, another important aspect of the cultural life of the city is being wound down with these new attacks on the community libraries.
Twenty four full-time-equivalent library staff posts are projected to be lost, two libraries are set for closure and the opening hours of many others are set to be restricted, with reduced staffing, often in smaller and shared accommodation. A number are set to be run by community groups and volunteers. A vital public space for literature, learning and study is to be further restricted.
This is unacceptable and has to be resisted. The Friends of the Library of Birmingham will support library users, staff and trade unionists who wish to oppose this new onslaught.
We have campaigned tirelessly against the attacks on the city library service for several years now, organising public meetings, outdoor rallies, demonstrations, street stalls, petitions, responses to consultation (only to be ignored), press appearances, questions to Council meetings, letters and lobbying. All of this has identified overwhelming support for preserving our library service. It cannot be right that at every turn this overwhelming evidence of public support is met with rejection.
We aim to see library buildings re-furbished, new books being bought and a modern flourishing library service be developed, complemented by an appropriate number of specialist librarians. This will not happen without serious campaigning and resistance. We have provided an example of what can be done and we now call on the city council to adopt a similar spirit. A good start could be made by them saying that the forthcoming consultation over the future of the city library service will proceed without the new cut of £1.9 million hanging over its head.
Friends of the Library of Birmingham Website: https://birminghamlibrariescampaigns.wordpress.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofthelob Twitter: @FoLob_
BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL PLANS FOR COMMUNITY LIBRARIES OCTOBER 2016
1) THE FOUR TIERS – plus closures
TIER 1 [19 LIBRARIES] – MAIN LIBRARIES – open 35 hpw, probably still in current buildings, doing some non-library tasks e.g. benefits verification. Volunteers to be involved. May have partner agencies in same space
|Balsall Heath||Harborne||Quinton||Ward End|
|Birchfield||Kings Heath||Shard End||Weoley Castle|
|Erdington||Kings Norton||Small Heath||Yardley Wood|
|Hall Green||Mere Green||South Yardley|
TIER 2 [10 LIBRARIES] – COMMUNITY LIBRARIES – open 21 hpw. May remain in current locations. Partners sought
|Druids Heath||Perry Common||Stirchley|
TIER 3 [6 LIBRARIES] – SUPPORTED COMMUNITY LIBRARIES – run by community groups and volunteers, possibly from their own premises. Uncertain future if no partners forthcoming
|Bartley Green||Glebe Farm||Selly Oak|
|Bloomsbury||Kents Moat||West Heath|
TIER 4 [1 LIBRARY] – COMMUNITY INITIATED LIBRARY SERVICES – local groups providing some library services. One currently, expressions of interest from other groups sought
CLOSURES [ 2 LIBRARIES]
- i) the total planned cut is c. £1.9m, including 24 job losses.
- ii) self-service terminals will be used across the piece at a cost of £834,000. A system called ‘openplus’ – essentially unstaffed libraries – will be piloted. As the council’s report states: ‘Customers should be encouraged to undertake routine and less complex tasks’
iii) there is no commitment to structure Birmingham’s libraries – The Library of Birmingham and the community libraries – as a unified service headed by a professional librarian with senior status in the council’s top management team, in line with common practice across the UK. iv) a £1 fee will be charged for reserving a book Friends of The Library of Birmingham October 2016
Programme for the #Rally4LoB
Downloadable here Rally4LoBprogramme
#Rally4LoB – Public rally for the Libraries of Birmingham
Download the leaflet here:
Our leaflet on the cuts to the Library can be downloaded below. Please print and copy.
Our current petition for the cuts to the Library of Birmingham to be reversed
Our petition can be downloaded here: LoB Petition