Questions were asked about the status of the plan to privatise the new Library Of Birmingham which was agreed by the Labour Cabinet in December 2012. Bore failed to directly answer a question seeking the following committment ‘that the Library of Birmingham will remain publically run and publically owned for the forseeable future?’
The Council leader provided a fuller answer regarding the Library procurement process stating that it is no longer being progressed and the Library of Birmingham service will continue to be operated in-house.
But left the door firmly open by proposing
The creation of a strategic advisory board that will be concerned on setting the policy direction of the service, and a report on these matters to be brought to Cabinet at the end of this month.
The initial reaction from the Friends of the LoB campaign was that Sir Albert continues to play with words. A spokesperson from the campaign stated
The original procurement was a botched process and they tried to do too much in too short a period of time.
Bore has kept his options open by creating an Advisory Board which will create some political cover if it were to propose a further procurement for the Library. At no point did Bore commit to the future public character of the Library of Birmingham. Sir Albert is not to be trusted!
A second question on the impact of the cuts on access to computers and Wi-fi in the Community Libraries drew reference to the prospect of further forthcoming cuts to the Community Libraries in the answer from Cllr Ian Ward.
A report reviewing the Future operating model of the Community Libraries found that the Community Libraries have old PCs in need of replacement, and this disadvantages local library users seeking access to digitalized information provided by the Library of Birmingham.
Asked whether the Council will invest in improved computer facilities Cllr Ward said that while it would be a priority it has to be set against the significant Budget challenge faced by the Council.