6th August 2010
Dear Ms. Flint
Library Closures in Doncaster
Thank you for your letter dated 8th July 2010 regarding your constituent Lauren Smith…, in relation to Library Closures in Doncaster.
Due to the active national agenda around libraries, and the proposal to potentially close Bessacarr, Warmsworth and Wheatley Libraries, it was decided that we would commission an external expert in this field to complete a review of the service, and develop a resulting improvement plan. This work has now been completed and will be considered this week, as well as the intended actions moving forward.
Please be assured that Doncaster is working closely with the Museums, Libraries and Archive Service (MLA) to ensure the right process is followed in the improvement of the service, which has already started, and with regard to any rationalisation of the service. I am sure you will be aware that library closures cannot occur in isolation, and that the usage levels, community needs, condition of the accommodation and the strategy of the service moving forward must be taken into account.
Once the way forward has been agreed, we will make all stakeholders aware of the next steps.
I trust the above information is helpful.
Mayor of Doncaster
If what the Mayor says is to be believed, the consideration of the report occurred over two weeks ago, after a long period of sitting on the report which was submitted to the council in May. It is thought that library staff will hear about the council’s decisions on Wednesday. The council have not done anything to consult the public about the “improvement”, “rationalisation” or “next steps”, yet have already quietly reduced Saturday opening hours of all branch libraries – this contradicts assurances that the “right steps” will be taken.
The “way forward” cannot and should not be agreed without the involvement of the public, including library users, non-users and community groups.