Update 10th November, ‘no Liverpool Libraries to close’
After several months of consultation with us all, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced this morning that no Liverpool Libraries will now close. Some will shorten their hours and it seems that seven out of the threatened eleven will now be run by ‘partners’ (still to be announced who these are). So very good news or a positive spin being put on a situation of continuing uncertainty and financial fragility?
Well obviously we’ll all be watching very carefully. But for now, well a limited library is still a library, can still expand back to full services one day. Whereas closed libraries would be gone forever.
Here’s what Joe Anderson said.
So, well done so far City of Liverpool. By which I mean everyone. Parents, children, protestors, potential partners, politicians and particularly the City Libraries staff who have been running most of the consultations and so borne the brunt of our concerns. Well done all. Now let’s sort out the details.
Update, 15th August, Eleven Liverpool City Libraries set to close
The Proposal outlined below was approved at the City Council Cabinet meeting this morning. There will now be a period of further consultation to see what might be possible by working with community groups and other potential partners for the eleven of Liverpool’s libraries now threatened with closure.
Unless these efforts can be successful, as things stand there will be no public libraries in the North of Liverpool between Central Library and Norris Green. As you’ll see below this gives me particular concern. The loss of any libraries is deeply injurious to the City, but to have such a vast area with no local service gives me great concern for the futures of all children, claimants and the less mobile in Kensington, Breckfield, Everton, Vauxhall, Walton, Kirkdale, Anfield, Fazakerley and West Derby. Surely as a City we can sort something out here?
I’ve heard from a City Councillor that there is to be a special meeting about the issue on 10th September but don’t yet have an agenda for this. Will update as soon as I have but suspect it may be the meeting of the Cultural Select Committee called for by the Green Party and the Lib Dems, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.
Full Liverpool Echo report including a statement by Mayor Joe Anderson here.
Well the news is in and the news isn’t good. On 15th August a proposal will go to the meeting of Liverpool City Council in the Town Hall to close eleven of our nineteen libraries.
Liverpool Central Library
Before I list those threatened and those to stay, a bit of context from when I attended one of the public consultation events back in May. I wrote then:
“Liverpool gets 76% of its funding from Central Government. And they’re going to cut this by half by 2016/17.
Therefore the City Council has been forced to decide to cut its mandatory services, including libraries, by 25%. And its discretionary services, like sports and culture, by 50%. In the case of libraries this will mean an annual budget of £10m being reduced by £2.5m.
The Council has been running a survey (which I’ve written about before) to gather facts and opinions about what might be done. And have run five open meetings around the libraries, of which this is the last. They tell us they’ve had 3,500 surveys completed and have also been gathering thoughts and ideas from these meetings.
Later in the year the council will decide what to do.
And I found the meeting almost unbearably sad. We talked all the way around the kind of things that could happen. About not automatically closing the less well used libraries in less well off areas. I even brought up the possibility of a bit of philanthropic help to see us through until we can elect a better government. But it was pointed out that though philanthropic money can still sometimes be found to build things, it never pays the costs of running them.
I talked particularly about the children as I did on my post about the survey, as did others. And the fact that no one in the room wanted to see a ‘Big Society’ approach where volunteers take over the jobs of paid staff. We didn’t come up with any easy answers, nor did I feel this was all empty talk about decisions already taken. I felt I was in a discussion with people who are as passionate about libraries as I am.”