Growing threat of a two-tier library service in Birmingham

library privatisation godzillaYesterday’s Cabinet meeting saw the appointment of Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader, and the Tory Leader Cllr Mike Whitby as the Council representatives to the Strategic Management Board to direct the development of the new Library of Birmingham.

The only dissension came from opposition Councillor, Paul Tilsley, who proposed that the Board be increased from eleven to twelve to allow the inclusion of an elected Library user. This was rejected by Sir Albert Bore on the grounds that Cllr Ward holds a library ticket and can represent Library users.

Councillor’s Ward and Whitby join the select ranks of the Strategic Board which includes five members of the Development Trust who were appointed for their business expertise. Birmingham UNISON has pointed out ‘that none of the proposed board members have a library background or hold a library degree.’

The other issue at Cabinet was the movement of responsibility for the Library of Birmingham from the Local Services to the Development and Culture Directorate.

This leaves a complicated situation where the Community Libraries remain in a separate directorate and under the political responsibility of the District Committees in which they are geographically located. While the Library of Birmingham has strategic citywide functions for the Community Libraries.

To remedy this problem Cllr Holbrook requested that Chairs of the District Committee are involved in the Service Level Agreement for the Library of Birmingham.

This separation of the new Library and Rep as prestige projects, represents a further threat of a growing divide between the Community Libraries and the new Library, and the development of an inferior two tier level of service.

Senior Library Managers have been recently criticised by UNISON in a letter sent to Councillor’s for overloooking the disruptive impact of the implementation of a new Library software system for the new LoB on the Community Librarires.

The Friends of the Library of Birmingham is campaigning for our new Library of Birmingham as a public service and public space.

We can be found on Twitter and on Facebook

We will be meeting on Thursday 1st August at 7pm in the Cafe area of the ICC.


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One response to “Growing threat of a two-tier library service in Birmingham

  1. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Growing threat of a two-tier library service in Birmingham

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