Overview & Scrutiny (Round Two), Mystery Volunteers and the Silent Death of our Library Service

We have a lot of news this week:

  • The library review consultation outcome and plan has been called into Overview and Scrutiny by the Labour group for a second time. The committee will meet on 1oth November (documents will be uploaded to here). It is believed that the Labour group do not believe the Equalities Impact Assessment was conducted appropriately and the review does not consider aspects such as deprivation in areas such as Carcroft and Denaby – the two areas which would be the first to lose their libraries (the closure date for these was set for 1st November – the call-in has delayed the closure). Supporters of the campaign to save our libraries are invited to meet at 9am outside the Mansion House. The Mayor, Cabinet and Julie Grant (Assistant Director of Customer Services and ICT) are keen to press ahead with these half-planned proposals, despite the availability of alternatives and the risk that failed community-run libraries will lead to the council being in breach of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
  • Local residents in Sprotbrough fear that the future for their library is bleak. They have sent the following email to library managers, the Mayor and his Cabinet:
    “We, Sprotbrough Library Action Group, are concerned that the press release and resulting newspaper articles on Doncaster Council’s intentions for the future of Sprotbrough Library do not appear to correctly reflect the situation in regard to Sprotbrough Library.  They gave the impression that a community group is ready to provide a library service from an alternative venue, and to recruit and manage volunteers to staff the library.   We, S.L.A.G., have never had any intention of providing a library service from any other venue than the present library building – we are not aware of any suitable alternative sites, and certainly feel that neither St Edmund’s Community Hall nor St Mary’s Stable is a suitable alternative.    Our focus has been throughout on the retention and enhancement of the present purpose-built Sprotbrough Library.   We made this clear to DMBC Head of Libraries before the Cabinet Meeting, and had been led to understand that the report going to the Cabinet would be altered accordingly, which it wasn’t.   Furthermore we are not in a position to recruit and manage volunteers.   Nor are we aware of any other community group inSprotbrough ready to provide a library service from an alternative venue.   We are concerned that the Cabinet decision as its stands means thatSprotbrough Library is now likely to close.  The Library is the only DMBC leisure facility within the Sprotbrough Ward and serves not justSprotbrough but also the outlying villages beyond. We hope that this will be taken into account during the Overview and Scrutiny.”
  • Similarly, the future of Bessacarr Library is shaky too – the editor of The Bessacarr and Cantley Journal, Geoff Bennett, stated: “Nobody seems to have much idea what they (DMBC) are proposing, but the suggestion seems to be that the library should be housed somewhere else, and run by volunteers. We have yet to find anyone who thinks that moving the library makes any sense. We’ll let you know what is happening if anyone ever gets round to telling the general public.” Save Doncaster Libraries wonder how many of the stated community run groups that the Library Report refers to actually exist. When the public read the DMBC report or read the account in the local papers they assume that these groups are already in place. From our experience this is not the case. We are not convinced that any groups have expressed an interest in running libraries – this is not because libraries are not wanted or needed – the outcome of consultations has already shown that people think libraries are important – but because, as we have repeatedly stated, Doncaster communities are in no position to run libraries. It is grossly unfair to demand that they do so and will result in the silent death of our library service.
  • Cantley residents are concerned that plans are being discussed to close down the borough’s busiest and most successful library and relocate it within the old Sycamore School building, as part of a larger community centre. This is not part of the present library review and may be a worrying sign of future cuts to the service.
  • Delegates from the Doncaster campaign went to London last weekend to share their experiences and learn from library campaigners around the country. We are helping to co-ordinate a march in London to take place in February 2012 – if you’d like to help with planning, please let The Library Campaign know. There are several blog posts about the campaign conference available here.
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2 Responses to Overview & Scrutiny (Round Two), Mystery Volunteers and the Silent Death of our Library Service

  1. Pingback: ‘Silent death’ of Doncaster library service | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  2. Tig says:

    I was talking to someone who works for a local disability charity today. They had 3 volunteers booked in to help them today. None turned up with no explanation…………

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