Campaigners call for an end to the digital divide in the City’s Libraries

july friends of library meetingCampaigners have called on Birmingham City Council to take urgent action to address the digital divide in the city’s community libraries in the two months before the opening of the new Library of Birmingham.

A recent Council review of the Future Operating model for local libraries committee has shown that the Community Libraries have old PCs in need of replacement, and further, that this disadvantages local library users seeking access to digitalized information provided by the Library of Birmingham.

The report says:

many of the wider community benefits from LoB will be delivered digitally but the ability of community libraries to benefit is restricted by old PCs and lack of wi-fi in 30+ of the 39 community libraries

The report offers a sanguine assessment of the impact of the cuts to local library services:

The imminent opening of the Library of Birmingham offers opportunities city wide to take advantage of the wider community benefits that LoB will deliver but it comes at a point when Community Libraries are least able to respond to the offer.

( source: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy/Pages/AgendaDetail.aspx?AgendaID%3d73225 )

The Library campaigners are proposing to ask questions about the digital divide at the July Council meeting.

The Friends of the Library of Birmingham group is to meet on Thursday 4th July 2013 to set up a campaign to oppose the privatisation of the running of the new library and for better access for library services at a time of increasing cuts.

The campaign is concerned about the disparity in services between the prestigious new Library of Birmingham and the cuts imposed in the community libraries with the imposition of the Future Operating Model which has seen massive cuts in staffing and a 10% cut on opening hours.

The campaign has received endorsement from Joel Lane, a Birmingham-based novelist, poet and journalist. Lane expressed concern about the future direction of the library service in Birmingham:

As the austerity-driven closure and downsizing of our district branch libraries accelerates, depriving children and adults of free access to books, the new Central Library is being held up as proof of Birmingham City Council’s commitment to the city’s literary heritage and the principle of public access to literature, information and learning.

The prospect of the new Central Library being franchised out to a private company that will run it for profit, keeping the parts that generate most revenue and ditching the rest is sickening – and and for this privatisation to come from a Labour council is beyond belief.

The Friends of the Library of Birmingham launch meeting will take place on Thursday 4th July 2013 at 7.30pm
Please note change of venue: the function room of the Old Royal Pub on Church Street (off Colmore Row). See here for directions: http://www.theoldroyalbirmingham.co.uk/findus/

Everyone committed to keeping the City’s Library service as a public service is welcome!

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One response to “Campaigners call for an end to the digital divide in the City’s Libraries

  1. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Campaigners call for an end to the digital divide in the City’s Libraries

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