The Coalition that runs Birmingham City Council (or rather, is running it into the ground), has decided to slash the library service opening hours. One of the libraries affected is in Stirchley. It is now proposed to close it on Fridays as well as on Wednesdays.
So, Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts turned up on Thursday evening to let the staff, library users and local people know that there are people around who do not think that nothing can be done to stop such “cultural vandalism” (to use Councillor Dawkin’s description of the decision to move the Bournville School of Art out of Bournville).
As usual, people were keen to sign the petition and passing motorists were keen to honk in support.
Then, lo and behold, who should turn up but Councillor Dawkins himself! He announced that the decision to close it for an extra day was his, and that he had done it to the library in order to save it! Now, there is not much you can say to chop-logic like that, but, put it this way, there was an exchange of views. He was then at pains to say that with coming investment it would re-open for five days several years into the future. Jam tomorrow, eh!
But he did not seem too keen to talk about other massive cuts imposed on the people of Birmingham by his ConDem coalition. That it seems, was nothing to do with him.
It is about time that there was an effective challenge to the Bournville Tory Councillors at the ballot box as well as on the streets. That is something that Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts has considered most attentively in recent months
At Last!!! Our Petition against Cuts in Library Provision & Opening Hours is online from today at the Birmingham City Council Website
Handsworth Library Petition hand-in
Please get as many people as possible to sign up
We also want to hand in some signatures to the Council Meeting on Tue Jan 10th so please print off the attached paper petition & return urgently to BATC c/o Birmingham Trades Union Council, 54 – 57 Allison Street Digbeth B5 5TH
Bring to Birmingham Against the Cuts Meeting Monday 9th January 6.30pm.
Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Building 46 Priory Queensway. B4 7NN
We will be collecting signatures outside the library tomorrow and Thursday from 5:30pm-6:30pm, please come and join us.
We are planning to hold a demonstration on Tue 10th January from 5.00 to 6.30pm, some of us will go into the full council meeting as well/afterwards.
On Monday, Birmingham Central Library changed it’s opening times, closing at 6pm (instead of 8pm) on weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays. The library will now open at 10am.
The council have claimed this is in preperation for the move to the new library, but that is 18 months away, and surely the costs of the move should have been accounted for in the cost of the new library? We think this is a way to make cuts in the library budget.
Libraries around Birmingham are facing cuts, with shorter opening times, or fewer qualified librarians working in them.
These are an important community resource, offering books, learning resources, spaces for people to study and do homework, internet access and many other important services.
We oppose the shortening of library times and the deskilling of the service and will be campaigning on this.
Hall Green Library Supporters have been fighting for Hall Green library to keep its opening hours since we found out about the consultation re restructuring cynically and secretively started in Augus. They have a facebook group here
Handsworth Against the Cuts have been campaigning over the Friday closure of Handsworth Library.
We will be picketing at the central library as often as possible until Christmas, from 5:30pm-6:30pm, collecting signatures for a petition about the libraries.
You can download the petition here.
Please go along if you can – post here or on our facebook page and let people know when you can spare some time. With the German Markets on, this area is very busy. In one hour on Tuesday, 48 signatures were collected, and there is clearly a lot of support for the library. A few people turned up after 6pm to return books, or use the library to study.
We are planning to hold a demonstration on Monday 10th January, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, after which we will go to the full council meeting that is being held that day.
Come along to this demonstration, and we will plan a campaign to keep all the libraries across the city open for the amount of time needed by their users, and properly staffed so they can serve our communities properly.
The petition calling for restored opening hours at Handsworth Library will be handed in by Councillor Waseem Zaffar at the Council meeting on Tuesday 6th December. Initiated by Handsworth Against the Cuts, the petition has gathered a magnificent 860 signatures thanks to the many residents and community activists who got involved. At a meeting on Saturday 26th November, residents pointed out that the library is used by people of all ages and backgrounds – by those who need to use the computers, by schoolchildren doing projects, and by elders of the community who enjoy the safe and sociable atmosphere.
Recent reports have revealed that cuts are happening to library services across the city – and these were never subject to consultation. Handsworth Against the Cuts will continue to push for proper opening hours for our own library, but not at the expense of others. We need to campaign to keep both our central and community libraries open for business.
John Dolan, the former head of Birmingham Libraries, attacked the council’s library cuts programme in a open letter published in the Birmingham Post.
The Birmingham Post sets out cuts planned for Birmingham Libraries.This comes out one day before the last Council public consultation meeting on its budget plans. There was no mention of libraries in list of cuts up for public consultation. In all the public papers the words ‘library’ or ‘libraries’ are not used anywhere.
This is actually about dismantling the service through the back door while pretending to fix the front door. Birmingham has already dismissed most of the senior and middle management.
You should read the whole letter – it was also published on Voices for the Library
It comprises a comprehensive analysis of the way in which Birmingham City Council is seeking to dismantle an important service for the community. Handsworth Library will not open on Fridays, and many other libraries are also restricting their opening hours – We have been told the Central Library will now close at 6pm each day, making it difficult for anyone who works to use the service.
Aside from lending books, audio books and often music and films, libraries also offer internet access, often in communities that have low access rates. For someone who is unemployed, having access to the internet is vital to help find work or training opportunities.
Handsworth Against the Cuts is already campaigning about library cuts in that area, so if you want to be involved with that, get in touch with them. If your local library is facing cuts and you want to fight that and the library cuts in general, let us know, or come to our next open planning meeting on Monday 12th December. (let us know you are coming so it gets on the agenda).