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.