Not the C-Word! Library Closures “Nonsense”

In February this year, the Museums Libraries and Archives Council told Doncaster Council that they shouldn’t use the word ‘closure’ when talking about the cuts in funding and, well…closing libraries. Instead, the council has tried very hard to avoid the word ‘closure’, and has instead commented on the libraries that will ‘remain’ when the council no longer funds the 14 libraries it has picked (essentially out of a hat) to cease funding.

Mayor Davies should be congratulated for his continued avoidance of the c-word, and also his avoidance of the issue when it came to answering the question posed to him by Look North last night:

Christa Ackroyd (interviewer): “Ok well some might argue that you’re cutting say youth services, provision of youth clubs, even libraries, which could keep some of the youngsters entertained, off the streets. Is that wise?”

Peter Davies (Mayor): “Er well we’re not doing that,  first of all we’re not cutting youth services, in fact I’ve kept a youth inclusion project open in Carcroft, and I’m opening another one in the east of the town in either Stainforth or Hatfield, er and we er put some more money into one at Denaby, there’s no cuts to essential services – as far as the library’s concerned, you’ve been fed the usual nonsense from the protesters, we’re trying to keep all the libraries open, er but er again not er without the cost that’s been there before. We’re trying to use money wisely and to keep services going.

There are cuts to essential sevices – libraries are an essential – and statutory – service. You can listen to a response to the Mayor’s comments from one of the Save Doncaster Libraries group on BBC Radio Sheffield here.

All the playing with semantics in the world won’t change the fact that the council has said that in March 2012, if communities aren’t running libraries for themselves, they’re losing their libraries. These libraries will be closed. It couldn’t be simpler. Or more unjust.

The library service is looking at alternative ways of keeping the threatened libraries open, but has been set an impossible task by the Mayor and his Cabinet, which has been hugely flawed at every step in the process so far. The libraries cost less than 1% of the council’s budget and have been cut substantially for the past several years. We’ll say it again, simply and clearly for the Mayor, lest he think we’re talking nonsense:

The library service is very cheap. There’s nothing left to cut. Don’t cut the library budget.

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2 Responses to Not the C-Word! Library Closures “Nonsense”

  1. Jim O'Neil says:

    READ THIS FOLKS:

    Public libraries are protected by law
    walkyouhome1 | 16/08/2011 at 2:24 pm | Tags: cuts, law, public libraries and museums act 1964 | Categories: Update | URL: http://wp.me/pZDQu-gi

    Originally posted on the Voices for the Library blog.

    This letter is reproduced with permission from Mr. Francis Bennion, a retired barrister and active writer and academic, who drafted the Bill which later became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, the law which makes public libraries a statutory service. It is in response to the article written by Caitlin Moran, which is reproduced with her permission here.

    I read Caitlin Moran’s account of the debt she owes her threatened public library as the only alma mater she has ever had (The Times Magazine, 13 August 2011) with particular sympathy. Nearly half a century ago I was struggling to draft appropriately the Bill that became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. I was instructed to draw a reasonable line between the requirements of the public and the limited resources of local authorities. The Act is still operative. Various attempts to enforce it by judicial review are pending.

    The Act says a local authority which is a library authority must “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons . . . whose residence or place of work is within the library area of the authority or who are undergoing full-time education within that area”. Its stock of “books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials”, must be “sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children”.

    [Under this provision a severe reduction now in the public library facilities which were being provided by a particular library authority two or three years ago is likely to be unlawful. This is because there is a presumption that the earlier provision did not exceed what was required under the Act.]

    The Act also says that the Government must “superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales, and . . . secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities”.

    It does not appear that the statutory duties I have mentioned are being adequately fulfilled at present. The Act does not contain any provision for reduction of the duties because of a need for “cuts”.[1]

    ——————————————————————————–

    [1] Published in The Times 16 August 2011. The important passage in square brackets was omitted.

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