Demonstrate for the Library of Birmingham (and the wider library service) Saturday 13 June

The Friends of the Library of Birmingham has decided to call a demonstration on Saturday June 13th. It will be to oppose the drastic cuts to the LoB in terms of its opening hours, staff cuts and restrictions on the services it has been offering. It will assemble at the Waterstones book shop at the bottom of New Street at 12 noon and then march up New Street for a rally at the Council House at 1pm.

 The “Friends” group has decided to take this course of action for several reasons.

 Firstly, the consultation exercise over the 2015 Council budget showed massive support for the LoB, far and away more than for any other area of service (50% of all respondents, compared to 29% for adult social services, and a massive 78% rejecting any cut to this one-and-a-half-year-old library). The results of the consultation were ignored and the cuts went through.

 Secondly, the “Friends” are very alarmed, as are the many LoB users, at the results of this year’s cuts;

  • A massive reduction of hours – closed on Sundays, no admission before 11 am in the week, no late nights.
  • No new books to be bought; no business and IT advice; limited access to study space and PCs.
  • No community outreach: no story times for children; no schools events or holiday activities.
  • 90 staff to be made redundant.
  • Limited access to the internationally important City and photography archives and special collections, including the Vanley Burke Archive.

 Thirdly, even greater cuts are planned for next year. The question has to be asked; will the LoB even be viable with another savaging of its budget? Will we be faced with the loss of this major cultural centre (and tourist attraction!) which cost £189 to build? It would be the ultimate absurdity; paying £12 million per year for 40 years to finance a library which no-one could use!

 The Friends of the Library of Birmingham is calling upon all library users, whether from the LoB or community libraries, all trades unionists who wish to oppose the huge job losses, and all concerned citizens, to unite at this demonstration on June 13th.

Bob Whitehead

from Communites Against the Cuts website

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