Report from Lobby of Council Meeting and Library Demo

Yesterday, Birmingham City Council held it’s monthly meeting. Birmingham Against the Cuts was at the council house to lobby the council over reductions in library hours, and to hold a demonstration outside the library and continue to collect signatures.
Parents from the Save Charles House campaign were also at the meeting, where they found out that their campaign has been successful and Charles House will not close, which is fantastic news.

At the library, signatures were being collected thick and fast from members of the public and library users. Central Library has had its hours reduced, so it is now closing at 6pm, not 8pm, on weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays. Around Birmingham, local libraries are also having hours cut, with Handsworth Library (for instance) no longer opening on Fridays.
The central library hours reduction is being hidden under a claim that this is so that staff can catalogue books in preparation for the move to the new library in 18months time. However, surely all the costs of the move – including the cataloguing will have been accounted for in the cost of building the new library – and so this reduction in hours is simply a way to implement cuts in spending. What should be happening is that temporary staff should be hired from the new library budget to do the cataloguing whilst the permanent employees of the library continue to do their usual jobs, and citizens of Birmingham get to use the facilities after work – which for many people, especially those with children, is the only time they can access this service.

We will be collecting signatures for our petition to re-instate all library open hours throughout this month, to be presented to the council at their meeting in February. You can sign the petition online here, or print off a copy of it to get signatures on (return to Birmingham Against The Cuts, c/o BTUC, Friends of the Earth Warehouse, Adderley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham).

We will also be outside the library from 5pm-6:15pm on as many evenings as possible between now and the meeting in February – please contact us if you can help with this – we need volunteers, as there is no way we can cover it ourselves.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Report from Lobby of Council Meeting and Library Demo

  1. Terence Paget

    I agree with the expressions of concern as contained in the petition, but I really do consider there is a significant point which is being overlooked. Libraries are not merely repositories for books or, these days, a means of internet access – they are community centres.

    There are community centres for, generally, physical activities. Over the last decade at least (and probably longer), libraries have become community centres for arts, crafts, cerebral activities and community dialogue. To limit access to libraries by cutting hours amounts to nothing less than an attack on the local communities as such.

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