Thursday, January 19, 2012

Charity to take over Bexley library... a price

THE SMALL LIBRARY in Bexley Village in south-east London is to be taken over and run by a charity, Greener Bexley, which will introduce charges for many services that are now free.
 Regular users are critical of this move, saying they already pay for it through their council tax and it will create a two-tier service and discourage young people from using the library. And many are wondering if this is the shape of things to come for other council services.
 Bexley Council has agreed the library will be managed by charity, Greener Bexley, through a community group called Bexley Village Community Library (BVCL), which will take over the library in spring, saving the council around £40,000 a year.
 It will continue to offer free membership of the library but people will also be able to pay for memberships that provide extra benefits, at annual rates of £24 or £75.
 All customers will pay to use the desktop IT facilities but wi-fi access will be free. BVCL will not loan CDs or DVDs, but instead it will sell them while encouraging their return after use so they can be re-sold.
 David Hinds, of Hill Crescent, Bexley, is a regular user of the library. The retired grandfather-of-three said: "The bare bones of the agreement seem to be not quite what I was anticipating at all. I think it's all fairly appalling. I feel it's introducing a two-tier system."
 BVCL will run the library independently of the council’s library network, though the council will supply some book stock on an annual basis and a part-time member of staff with experience of running a library.
 BVCL is planning to introduce three levels of membership to the library:
* Reader’s ticket – free membership and free loans of stock, with some limits to the numbers of items which can be borrowed. Due dates and fines will apply.
* Library member – a £24 annual fee will see people join as full members of the wider charity. Benefits will include being able to borrow a higher number of books, keeping books for an unlimited time, a free period of use on the public computers, discounts in the cafe and priority booking for events.
 * Gold membership – customers can join as a “patron” for a £75 annual subscription. Members would be making a donation to the running costs of the library and attracting additional funds to the charity through Gift Aid. BVCL will reinvest income earned through membership in new library stock.
 Meanwhile the public sector union Unison is campaigning to defend library services from closure or being hived off like Bexley Village Library.
 Unison, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), Voices for the Library, The Library Campaign, Campaign for the Book and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) last week announced they will hold a joint lobby of Parliament calling on politicians to protect vital library services.
 During the lobby, on 13th March, the campaigning group will highlight the importance of libraries in providing access to learning and as a vital lifeline for many communities. The lobby will take place at midday, on 13th March, at central Hall, Westminster.
 Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said: “Cutting libraries is not an easy solution for councils to save cash – it is a literacy time bomb for deprived communities.
 “Community groups are being held to ransom by Government plans to force them to take over the running of services, or lose them. These groups don’t have the time, skills and resources to take over the jobs of experienced library staff.”


Jonathan Rooks said...

As the chair of the community group which will take over Bexley Village Library I wanted to confirm your report that people will still be able to use the library for free. We will also have the Library open for nine more hours a week than it is currently under the Council's control.

The paid membership scheme allows people to keep books out for longer and avoid late return fines. We believe that there are a large number of people locally who don't make use of the library at the moment because of the limited opening hours on a Saturday.

Bexley village is largely a commuter village. We hope that we will be able to make the service accessible to them too.

Jonathan Rooks
Bexley Village Community Library

vesper said...

@Jonathan Rooks Chair Bexley Village Community Library (the Green Party's candidate for Bexley and Bromley GLA AM too)

I know you will do your best Jonathan but people are very concerned about what is happening to our libraries. Mary Honeyball MEP backed the SAVE LONDON LIBRARIES campaign that we started on Friends Reunited in January 2011, and this fb picture of Ed Miliband is evidence that this issue goes right to the very heart of our society

Your entry into the FORGE Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith fb debate has coincided with a co-ordinated attack on my informative wider ERITH WESTERN GATEWAY contributions and I have been threatened with being wiped out, and banned from contributing further.

The group leadership have done this best to silence me with their co-ordinated campaign of bullying which accounts for this post... @Karl Hebblewhite why did you remove this comment that you made at 4.44 pm before YOU welcomed MY fb friend Lorraine Larner to this page? i.e 'Again, this thread has nothing to do with FORGE but hopefully it will conclude your interactions with this fb page'... I have alerted Jonathan Rooks to the significance of this debate, which in my professional opinion was a co-ordinated attack designed to limit what we can or cannot say on FORGE, who are now in position to lead the way with regard to a design solution because any developer will almost certainly have to interact with the pressure group who influenced the final solution for the ERITH WESTERN GATEWAY planning brief. Terry Middleditch has sent me a message saying that all views should go through Joan McCarthy which I believe severely limits FREEDOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION. ROY HOBSON CInstCES 1990, Grad Dipl QS 1981 aka "Vesper".

In my opinion London Communists should join the FORGE fb page to counter the right wing bullying tactics I have exposed on this critical Thames Gateway City Challenge site.