Think Harder, DMBC

An article from the Hounslow Chronicle details Hounslow Council’s u-turn on library closures:

After nearly 7,000 residents offered their views on what services they valued the most in the public budget consultation, Hounslow Council has announced it intends to minimise cuts to front-line services.

Unsuprisingly, the public response to keeping the borough’s libraries open was also positive, with 57 per cent wanting to keep all sites.

The council instead propose to save by deferring some book purchases. In the meantime a more specific library consultation is underway which will decide the longer term strategy.

Of the people involved in the Doncaster consultation, 96% said that they think it is “important that the council provides a library service”.  Almost half (48%) disagreed with the idea of fewer but higher standard libraries, and 58% disagreed with the idea of replacing static branches with mobile libraries.

Save Doncaster Libraries strongly urge Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council to take a leaf out of Hounslow’s book and consider the views and needs of Doncaster citizens. So far DMBC have only consulted 2,726 residents in an unrepresentative sample of the population, and refusing to take their opinions into consideration. Save Doncaster Libraries have heard the view of almost 10,000 residents – who strongly disagree with the proposals made by the council to dramatically reduce the library service by cutting over half the library branches, cutting 30-40 part-time staff posts, cutting archives, reducing the provision of PCs and internet access and failing to make plans for the long-term. These decisions run counter to the council’s aims to reduce the digital divide in Doncaster and increase literacy, educational attainment and employment, demonstrating a complete lack of joined-up thinking between council departments and an incompetent approach to library management.

DMBC is looking into running libraries with volunteers, which was strongly discouraged by Annie Mauger, the libraries expert who conducted an independent consultancy report of the council’s library services. She clearly states that “at the current time, library services are not fit” to be run using methods of alternative governance. The council has, of course, swept this recommendation along with many others, under the carpet and is ploughing ahead in its further destruction of a service which already “does not meet traditional government standards nor the new required core and local offer provisions” (Better Libraries, Better Lives, 2010).

Unsuprisingly, the public response to keeping the borough’s libraries open was also positive, with 57 per cent wanting to keep all sites.
The council instead propose to save by deferring some book purchases. In the meantime a more specific library consultation is underway which will decide the longer term strategy. 

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