Joint webchat with Conservative and Labour housing minister and shadow housing minister, MONDAY 2 MARCH 1pm x

To be so angry and sad at the running down of public libraries?

(116 Posts)
Squarepegina Wed 03-Sep-14 16:37:42

We are to be replaced with "integrated facilities" which means squashing assorted unrelated services into one place but having only one member of staff to man all the services. Result...demand for benefit sector takes all the available staff time and library service becomes a thing of the past.
I know that in lots of places libraries have closed altogether, but this is just a back door way of doing the same.
We provide family history help, information for children and homework club, run craft classes, provide local history help, public IT access, book group, as well as knowing and engaging with vulnerable and elderly people.
In one fell swoop our community will lose these services, it's so sad for future generations to not have this social public access point for information.

Kiffykaffycoffee Wed 03-Sep-14 17:49:33

I agree. Our library is still running but lots of places have closed theirs or made them so rubbish they're not worth going to. It's a shame. I love libraries.

Kiffykaffycoffee Wed 03-Sep-14 17:51:06

OP it sounds as though all those community initiatives are good things but they should be running as well as thr library not instead of.

WooWooOwl Wed 03-Sep-14 17:55:01

It is sad that there won't be as many libraries, but IMO they were a 'nice to have' not an essential. Other public services being so drastically underfunded concerns me much more than history help and craft classes.

CundtBake Wed 03-Sep-14 17:59:42

Waits for somebody to mention Brent

I do love libraries, but when people are finding alternatives and libraries aren't being used what else should be done? It's sad for the people who have a fondness for libraries as I do but I don't think libraries are a huge part of the community like they used to be (apparently)

Lots of stuff has been lost to the internet. It's just the way the world works

Preciousbane Wed 03-Sep-14 18:09:29

I worked in libraries for many years and they were in those days a real community hub naturally and without any kind of force or initiative. Lots of lonely older people would come along and sit and read the papers for a few hours. Children's story time for parents that also felt isolated was great.

There is just so much utter shite on the web along with the useful stuff. I am glad I left when I did, I didn't want to at the time but was relocating cities and ended up working in a far more miserable public sector post with plenty of aggro chucked in. Lots of my friends have been made redundant.

I will weep in solidarity with you op.

ChildrenOfTheDamned Wed 03-Sep-14 18:18:21

YANBU. One of my favourite pastimes as a teenager was going to our local library. I practically lived in there during the summer holidays. <geek alert> But, as CundtBake says, the world is changing and the demand for libraries isn't even half of what it was 10-20 years ago. It is a real shame that most libraries seem to be closing down though.

Although our central library has just had a massive revamp, which was well overdue. It looks fantastic now, mixing the old building with the new design. It's a shame more isn't being done to bring other libraries up to date.

HappyYoni Wed 03-Sep-14 18:21:07

You are very much not being unreasonable

Didiusfalco Wed 03-Sep-14 18:26:21

Our local library has closed, I feel really sad about it and feel its a loss to the community, unfortunately everything is stretched. I know some libraries are being kept open by volunteers but that doesnt help the professionals who are losing their jobs.

Squarepegina Wed 03-Sep-14 18:27:23

Thanks Precious, I do feel like weeping. Cundt we do use internet facilities and actually provide free access to lots of people who don't own a computer, And our numbers have increased, especially when the recession hit and readers weren't so able to pop a book in the trolley at Tesco. And Woo I am aware of underfunded other public services but I genuinely believe we are more than a nice to have facility. In addition to our obvious services we provide a safe environment for children with little parental involvement, we try and encourage parental involvement with rhyme time activities, we help access information for vulnerable adults and can be the only social contact for some elderly customers. These services are available in a naturally social cohesive setting at the library, not in a stigmatised special service deliverer. It's a much more inclusive way of attending to peoples needs and I honestly believe that as such it earns a place of high importance in a community as opposed to an optional nicety.

hazeyjane Wed 03-Sep-14 18:30:28

I was in our small local library today, as well as those of us choosing books there was

a rhyme time parents and babies group
a community nurse providing health info and blood pressure checks
all the computers were being used
a group of adults with learning disabilities with their carers doing a reading group.

That was in one morning the other stuff they run includes

a dyslexia 'clinic'
homework club
adult literacy group
over 60s book club
kids reading scheme

It is very sad that a resource that provides a service for so many is disappearing.

MarianneSolong Wed 03-Sep-14 18:30:57

I think the demand for libraries is greater than ever. Not everyone has a PC or printer at home, but an increasing number of services can only be accessed online. Job centres will demand that people do online job searches. Libraries have homework clubs and revision guides and test papers. Council neighbourhood offices have shut and many people need to consult someone face to face in order to find information. Visually impaired people have a particular need for audiobooks. There are many people with some sort of mental health difficulty who will use libraries as a drop-in place, just because they can go there without having to spend money, and be treated with courtesy and respect.

SeagullsAndSand Wed 03-Sep-14 18:37:32

Along with several of our local towns and villages our library has been reduced and the youth centre is being closed.Both were used a lot.

Meanwhile down the road our local city has had a multi million refit complete with all new brand new books.

Great if you can get there on the outrageously expensive £8 return bus or pay the extortionate petrol and parking.And they wonder why kids don't read enough.hmm

I'm sure the more wealthy kids will find a way to get in,not so sure about the poorer kids though.

Op yanbu.Tbh I have long thought this issue was worthy of a MN campaign.

phlebasconsidered Wed 03-Sep-14 18:40:26

Actually, public library use in many areas is increasing. Our local library showed a huge increase in use as people had LESS money to spend on books, music, films etc. Didn't stop Cambridgeshire downsizing it massively though. It's now a teeny space squished in with the local One Stop Shop, Council people and even the Police force!

Our local head librarian was incensed, and rightly so. We now have a teeny space to conduct our service, which used to hold meetings for community groups 9 for free), reading groups, Rhyme time, Story time and much more. Now they have'nt space to swing a cat, less money, and one, ONE staff member. Who now cannnot cope with the need. All those librarians that were apparently standing round were actually doing something. Answering enquiries, dealing with pensioners, the housebound, the partially sighted and blind readers, the job seekers, the homework clubs, the people who just wanted to KNOW something. I used our library every week, with my two kids and for me alone. Now their hours have been cut, I can't, because i'm at work. So it's a self fulfilling prophecy. Less use, let's cut it.

I remember the time I was doing home library delivery for a service in my library worker days, before I became a teacher. In one year I found no less than 3 pensioners in need of medical attention when we delivered their books and audio. Don't underestimate what the library service provides.

phlebasconsidered Wed 03-Sep-14 18:43:24

For many years I provided computer training for adults in a public library, for free. What is shocking is that now I am a teacher, in a rural area, 40% of my class of KS2 students do NOT have access to computers at home.

School access, school libraries, and public libraries are VITAL.

Nick Clegg, once, said school libraries are vital. Then he removed the statutory requirement of schools to provide them, or of councils to do so for schools. Twat.

amyhamster Wed 03-Sep-14 18:45:37

I agree

Not everyone can afford home computers, kindles, books from amazon , even newspapers

Libraries are one of the free services left

MarianneSolong Wed 03-Sep-14 18:46:48

I've emailed Mumsnet HQ about the suggestion that they campaign about/publicise this issue.

Squarepegina Wed 03-Sep-14 18:47:06

Seagulls this is why I posted my thread on Aibu....because I need to know I'm not a voice in the wilderness. The ramifications to community are huge and yet time and again I come up against the argument that in times of financial constraint a library is an easy chop because it's an unaffordable luxury.
As a profession we are sadly often by nature a meek lot but I am struggling to believe that more people don't see that what we offer is so important to the social fabric of a community.

SeagullsAndSand Wed 03-Sep-14 18:56:50

Brilliant!grin

Our hours are dire now for after school hours.Kids can't cycle or walk up on their own anymore as it's mostly shut.We've lost our kid's librarian and they don't refresh the books.On complaining that my dc had read most of them they said you can always order them.Yes I will but many kids with parents who don't read won't have parents to do so.There will be nothing there to entice them into reading should they manage to get into the damn building.

Ours were also planning to move out half the shelves for money making opportunities (there aren't loads anyway). They want volunteers as I think we're losing our cut hours librarian soon.I've put my name down but when I go back to work I won't be much use.

Meanwhile at the all singing and all dancing new city library the city kids are enjoying a Raspberry Pi room,Playstation for the teenagers,a new cafe with terrace,hoards of brand new books every time anything gets published,a massseeeeeve new children's library,quiet rooms........

Southeastdweller Wed 03-Sep-14 18:59:25

I'm amazed people are saying there's less demand. Here in London most of the computers are usually being used, the study spaces are are full in term times, I see dozens of people reading and kids doing homework. But I wish more people were loaning items as I think that aspect has decreased with dvd's bring so cheap to buy and kindle and charity shops being popular. Libraries are also good places for the disenfranchised to hang out in.

I'd be heartbroken if one day they're gone sad

Chattymummyhere Wed 03-Sep-14 19:15:55

Out local one is closed weekends and one midweek and the four days it is open are;

10am-2pm
11am-3pm
10am-4pm
11am-2pm

MarianneSolong Wed 03-Sep-14 19:44:11

I wonder if the world is divided between those who believe in community and those who don't.

I live in quite a mixed area and I very much like the fact that the library is used - perhaps in slightly different ways - by the most and the least affluent people in my suburb. Increasingly society feels divided with the privileged bagging certain schools, perhaps buying into private health care - and the underprivileged having to make do with the little that is left. (After all if they tried harder they wouldn't need community resources would they?) But in the library there is a kind of equality.

If you don't believe in community then yes, libraries are a luxury. Skilled people, shared resources, human company and helpfulness can be replaced by private, solitary consumption behind locked doors.

Squarepegina Wed 03-Sep-14 20:44:14

That's an interesting thought Marianne about community and equality. I suddenly feel not quite such a lone voice. ��

WooWooOwl Wed 03-Sep-14 20:49:00

I very much believe in community, but I still think libraries are a nice to have rather than an essential.

Many of the community type things they offer, like rhyme time groups for children etc, can be, and often are done in ways other than being provided by the library.

Our local library was pretty useless, it did run groups and I tried to get involved when my dc were small, but it just wasn't offering anything we couldn't do elsewhere more conveniently, and in a better way. The bigger town library is great, but I don't think the council would have been able to provide it if they were still having to provide the small local libraries as well.

Nodney Wed 03-Sep-14 20:51:46

You're not alone in thinking this Squarepegina. I think a campaign is very overdue

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now