Tagged: library service

Hartlepool library services under threat amid fresh cuts

The future of library services could be under threat as the service faces severe funding cuts.

The Government has cut Hartlepool Borough Council’s main revenue grant by £30m in recent years and since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent.

Despite this savings have been achieved without any direct impact on library opening hours or the branch library network.

But the Library Service now has to find further savings from 2016, and these cannot be achieved without reviewing the whole service, including front-line operations.

 Over the next three months the Library Service is consulting with users, staff, and other interested parties for views on ways of delivering services differently to make savings and also improvements.

Hartlepool has five libraries – the main Central Library in York Road plus the four smaller part-time branch libraries: Headland, Owton Manor, Throston Grange and Seaton Carew.

Among the aspects being looked at in the review are opening hours, whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities, potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role, possible further development of the libraries’ online services and the potential for the libraries to generate additional income.

David Worthington, Hartlepool Borough Council’s head of culture and information, said:

“Hartlepool has an excellent library service and we want to continue to maintain that, but in the light of the massive financial pressures which the council continues to face, we need to find even better, more cost-effective ways of working.

“At the same time, we also need to make sure that our libraries remain in the best position to meet people’s future needs and their changing requirements.

“We’re keen to hear people’s thoughts on some possible ways forward and we would also welcome other suggestions, so I very much hope as many people as possible will take part in the consultation.”

People can find out more and give their views by completing a Library Review Survey online HERE.

Consultation drop-in sessions will be held at all the libraries:

• Central Library, York Road Wednesday, March 25 from 10am-noon and Saturday, March 28 from 10am-noon:

• Owton Manor Library, Wynyard Road, Thursday, March 26 from 3pm-6pm;

• Headland Library, Middlegate Friday, March 27 from 3pm-6pm;

• Seaton Carew Library, Station Lane Tuesday, March 31 from 3pm-6pm;

• Throston Grange Library, Glamorgan Grove Wednesday, April 1 from 3pm-6pm.

People can also send written comments to: The Library Review, Hartlepool Central Library, 124 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE or email infodesk@hartlepool.gov.uk

The closing date is Saturday, May 23.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 25 Feb 2015

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Nine Sunderland Libraries To Be Closed

Despite grassroots protests,  including occupation of threatened buildings, by Hands Off Sunderland Libraries, nine libraries across Sunderland have been closed by the city council, in a bid to save 850,000 pounds.

The libraries affected are those at Doxford Park, Easington Lane, East Herrington, Fence Houses, Hendon, Monkwearmouth, Silksworth, Southwick and Washington Green.

Coun. John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, wellness  and culture:  “This is a very emotive subject and we recognise the strength of people’s  feelings.

“As I’ve said before, we probably wouldn’t have gone down this route if the council didn’t need to make 110 million pounds savings as a result of cuts from central government. The fact is the library service needs to save 850,000 pounds, so we have had to look at changing how we do things as budgets continue to be cut and resources become  ever more stretched.

“As councillors, we have to make difficult decisions . Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.

“But I firmly believe that the new library service will be much more flexible to fit in with people’s needs and will result in better services reaching more people  across a wider range of locations.”

Eh ? How does closing public services across a wide range of locations reach more people across those same locations ? I suspect the only flexibility resulting will be the closed service users, who’ll have to be a lot more flexible to find an open library.

How much will be saved really ? Has any account been taken of vacant buildings needing to be maintained, books and equipment to be mothballed, staff who lose their jobs ?

“Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.”  A nice attempt at emotional blackmail, but what exactly are libraries if not children and adult services ?

And should it be either/or anyway ?  We know only too well about the nature of the current national government, but Sunderland City Council is Labour controlled. Shouldn’t they – and other Labour controlled councils – be providing, you know, opposition ?  Getting together and going head-to-head with the government perhaps ? Making a moral stand ?

We’ve been promised years more austerity, whoever wins the next general election. Now the process has been started, which libraries will be next ?

As noted in no less an organ than Private Eye (#1349) –

Sunderland library chiefs have some handy advice on what can replace local libraries facing closure.

“Because of Facebook, because of gadgets, we dont need libraries the way we used to when I was 15,” Cllr Graeme Miller told a public meeting, which agreed proposals for the closure of nine libraries to save #850,000 a year.

Quite apart from how completely un-useful Facebook is for most homework, research or reading for pleasure, Sunderland is part of the UK region with the highest concentration of people off-line, with a recent survey finding only 42% of less well off people in the city had online access from any type of “gadget”, including computers, smart phones  and so on.

Quite.

Hands Off Sunderland Libraries on Facebook at –
https://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Hands-off-Sunderland-Libraries/615546618458212