25 October 2011

Book club - A cry for help

Here is a tweet that Robert Rams tweeted from his councillor twitter account ( he has a separate one for himself )

Cllr Robert Rams

There are two sides to every discussion - here is a different view on the library debate.

Liberal whingers are wrong – we should shut our libraries

You can read the whole article on-line and I will give you a quick precis here ( vent your spleen in the comment box! ):-

60% of the population have not been into a library in years.
Only 20% go to the library at least once a month.
Middle-class liberals are trying to keep libraries open for the less fortunate, not for themselves.
Google has replaced the reference library.
We live in an information rich society.
Most homes have fast computers & whizzy mobile phones.
130,000 new books were published in 2009 in the UK ( i.e. a library cannot stock them all )
330m books were purchased in the UK ( book shops are disappearing faster than libraries )
Virtually every kid has a desk at home.
Libraries at secondary schools are uniformly good.
Libraries are needed less.

Mr Mustard does not agree with most of the article although it is true that he tends to buy his books rather than visit the library ( it is very impersonal with the computerised booking in and out system - Mr Mustard prefers to talk to people )

Now Mr Mustard couldn't understand what point Robert Rams was making, so he tweeted, as follows:

Which side are you on. Keeping libraries or closing them?

and back came the answer:

as i have done in Barnet, keeping them open where possible, building new ones, spending more on books and securing their future
So Cllr. Robert Rams tweets a link to an article that recommends closing libraries and then says he is in favour of keeping them open, building new ones and spending more on books and securing their future.
Let us take this a section at a time. 
Keeping them open where possible. Now Mr Mustard seems to recall that there is a library review document ( link here ) which Rams presented to some deadly boring council meeting and what did it say about keeping them open
Was he referring to Hampstead Garden Suburb library? It won't be down to the council if this building stays open but testament to the public service ethos of local residents i.e. in spite of Barnet Council not because of them.
Was he referring to Friern Barnet Library? This is also under threat of closure. 
No good news then at present in the keeping them open section. How about "building new ones".
A new library is planned for the Brent Cross redevelopment. As that is a 20 year plan it's a bit early to consider these other than fine words in a report. 
A new library in Grahame Park. The building of that area is also going to take years and the payments due from the developer were recently deferred so the wait for this will also be years. 
So no new libraries then at present.
Oh, Mr Mustard nearly forgot the Arts Depot. A building already fully fitted out and without the spare space free into which to put a library any larger than a telephone box. The Arts Depot simply can't fit a library into their building. A fortune was spent on consultants during the construction which proved this.
Let's not forget the Garden Suburb Institute who were supposedly going to offer a self service facility for Hampstead Garden Suburb's former library users. except that the Institute needs to concentrate on its core activities and hadn't been fully consulted so that doesn't seem to have gone anywhere. 
The new library shelf is bare then.
Spending more on books. Now this is a great one. The library strategy does foresee £10,000 extra spent on books but also envisages an overall cut of £1,105,000. Well of course the cuts will arrive but not necessarily the extra book spend as these are budget figures which can easily be changed along the way. 
What is £10,000 spread across 300,000 residents? it is 3p per resident. That is about a page of a book each.
There is nothing that ensures the future of libraries in the strategic review. A new review could change things at the drop of a hat.
So Cllr Rams leaves one confused. He probably needs this book:
and this one
as Mr Mustard thinks that Robert Ram's heart really isn't in closing libraries but he doesn't want to step out of the cabinet, he can only tweet his discomfort.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Dear oh dear: good post Mr Mustard: the whole library farce laid bare.

    Oh and Cllr Rams: what is wrong with middle class people trying to help those in less fortunate economic circumstances than themselves? I realise altruism is a difficult concept for some Tories but actually, a concern for the well being of others is usually regarded as a virtue and not something to be sneered at.


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