Tag Archives: Libraries

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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Filed under Birmingham City Council

Council protest over Library privatisation

Protesters and bannersCampaigners from the Friends of the Library of Birmingham unfurled banners at the July Council meeting when Sir Albert Bore rose to answer a question from the member of the public. The Council meeting was temporarily halted while the protest took place.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council

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.

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Our People’s Palace is not for profit!

£188m of our money has been invested in building our new city Library. Yet Sir Albert and his Labour Cabinet have started a privatisation process that could allow a private profit making company to take over the running of the new Library and other Library services in the city. Any profit would be paid for by Birmingham Council tax payers.

Join us to support the new Library of Birmingham as a public non-commercial cultural space which remains a publically owned and publically run service.

Get involved in forming a Friends of the Library of Birmingham group; Join us when we meet on 4th July to found the group.

7.30pm on Thursday 4th July 2013
At: Lecture Room 2 at the Birmingham Conservatoire
Paradise Place, Fletchers Walk, Birmingham, B3

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Filed under Events

Stirchley Library Protest Report

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

Bob Whitehead

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Filed under Events, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Library Hours Reduction Petition Now Online

Handsworth Library Petition hand-in

At Last!!! Our Petition against Cuts in Library Provision & Opening Hours is online from today at the Birmingham City Council Website

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.


Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, petition

Libraries Petition And Campaign

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.


Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, petition