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Saturday, 28 May 2011

National Libraries Day announced

The following is taken directly from the Voices for the Library website.  You can access the website here.

A national day to celebrate libraries has been launched and Voices for the Library are proud to support it. National Libraries Day will take place in early February 2012. It will be the finale to a week of events that will celebrate libraries and librarians, and highlight the importance of reading.

Children’s author and libraries campaigner Alan Gibbons announced the launch:
“We are delighted to launch National Libraries Day, a week of events in early February leading to a day of celebration of reading, libraries and librarians around the United Kingdom. A reading child is a successful child. A child who goes to the library is twice as likely to be a good reader and that child becomes a literate adult, a lifelong reader. There are 320 million visits a year to our libraries but we can make them even more popular.
We see National Libraries Day as a positive day of celebration to promote the whole culture of reading for pleasure, information and engagement whether you read your traditional books or on your laptop or e-reader. It is time to make reading a universal culture. We want people to go to their local school or public library and use their School Library Service. Use it. Join it. Love it.”
A group of leading literacy, reading, library and education organisations, including Voices for the Library, met at the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals and agreed to support the day. 

Planning is at an early stage but National Libraries Day activities will include encouraging people to join and use their library, and providing promotional materials and support so local communities can run events such as read-ins, poetry sessions and parties across the country. It is hoped that all sorts of libraries across the country will get involved including public libraries, in schools, colleges and Universities.

“National Libraries Day follows the tremendously successful Save Our Libraries Day, which took place on the 5th February.” said Annie Mauger, CILIP’s Chief Executive, “Save Our Libraries Day was successful because individuals and communities that deeply care about their libraries got out there and made a noise. People love libraries; National Libraries Day will be an amazing opportunity to show how deeply they care.”

You can find  Voices for the Library website here,   on Facebook here at Voices for the Libraries or follow them on Twitter at @UKpling

You might also like to follow us on twitter at  @SandersteadLCG and @SaveSanderstead

Our website also has a wealth of information at 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Adult Learners' Week in Croydon libraries...Shhhh!

Adult Learners' Week activities, taking place in Croydon libraries this week, have not been promoted by the Council.

There are no details in the local press, nor publicity via the Council's 'Your Croydon' publication, the latest 'Your Croydon' email newsletter or even via the otherwise very active @yourcroydon twitter account. Nor is it easy to find on line on  Croydon Council's website.

Yet it seems that the Council are able to publicise just one event they are running under the banner of Adult Learners' Week; a session on conflict resolution in the workplace. This has been tweeted by Your Croydon and the whole raft of events being run on Business Support initiatives, of which this session is part,  has been emailed direct to some library users. It seems there are avenues to publicise events, should the Council wish to do so.

Adult Learners' Week, or as Croydon refer to it, Adult Learners Week, (perhaps, we suspect, as a result of a drive by Sara Bashford to eradicate unnecessary pesky apostrophes) isn't listed under the easily identifiable Libraries link on the home page nor are any of the activities listed under the main Events tab.

The whole week of events could easily pass unnoticed unless you happen to spot a poster in your local library, should you happen to visit this week, should it be open on a day convenient to you.

But why the reticence to advertise?

Could it be, perhaps, that the Council is concerned that having lost so many staff (23 in fact, so far) in the unannounced 'internal reshuffle', undertaken before a Libraries 'reprieve' was announced, they might well be a little pushed to host any events if residents were alerted and actually chose to attend?

Or could it be that the Council is seeking to hid yet another sham;  by listing events already going on in libraries such as Rock and Rhyme (under 5's), Wiggle and Jiggle (under 5's), Baby Rhymetime (under 5's), Storytime (under 5's), Knit and Natter (for adults) under the guise of special events for Adult Learners' Week?

Or is it just that little effort or time had gone into planning or delivering anything special for Croydon for this international event, celebrating its 20th successful year in 2011.

To save you the trouble of searching on the council's website to access the programme for the week you can find it here.

Do the activities on offer in Croydon ring true with the aims of Adult Learners' Week? Here are just a few of the sound bites from the main Adult Learners' Week site, from adults truly engaged in and inspired by well targeted, planned and delivered activities for adults.
"I was broken and had nothing, but I now have ambition and dreams"
 "My confidence has grown and I feel I have a real opportunity to achieve my goals."
 "You only get one chance at life, so I don’t intend to waste it." 
" I never knew learning could be this adventurous, fun and enjoyable."

So be quick!  Grab your places!

That is, if you can muster any interest in the  programme on offer.

That is, if you can actually find out when the event is running as many of the times are not listed.

And of course if the event isn't cancelled, without notice, as has been the case this week.

Croydon 'Proud to Serve', apparently.  And as Sara Bashford has assured us, regarding the loss of 23 highly qualified library staff even before any official cuts have been decided:
“It’s going to affect the libraries, but I don’t actually think people will see a huge difference."
 Well, that's reassuring, isn't it?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ed Vaizey via Number 10

Yesterday Lewisham library campaigners led a demonstration outside DCMS. They had rallied campaigners from Brent, Camden, Croydon, Lambeth and others from outside London to attend, but Ed Vaizey failed to meet with them as requested.

Campaigners and library supporters will not be deterred. Ask that the minister intervene, using his powers under the Public  Libraries and Museums Act1964, to prevent the destruction of the public library service.

But how?

  • Go here
  • Select Contact the Prime Minister's Office from the drop down menu and hit GO.

                                                    You have 1000 characters.

                                          Make sure you have your say!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Fight Back - the Challenge to Ed Vaizey

Library campaigners united against cuts to libraries!  If anyone in Croydon wishes to support this event please get in touch with us. 
You can reach us at
Check out our website at

Thus far we have coralled library users from Lewisham, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Lambeth and some from outside London, to challenge Ed Vaizey, minister at the DCMS, for not using his powers under the 1964 Public Libraries Act to prevent the desecration of one of the fundamentals of a decent Society.
We meet on Wednesday 18th May 2011, at noon, adjacent to the DCMS building, to lobby that particular ministry and its ministers. It is time they came out of the bunker. How happy they are to meet consultants, businessmen, publishers - I could go on - but meet with your average library user? Give me a break! We just pay and use! Why would he consider us relevant?
If your library is at risk, or may be at risk, come along and let him know this is criminal. He is actually happy to break the law.
Patricia Richardson
Minutes Secretary of Libraries for Life for London
Secretary of Users and Friends of Manor House Library

Post from 

Monday, 9 May 2011

Bigger, stronger society in Croydon? A resident's view

So the council wants to grow a bigger, stronger society in Croydon and make it an enterprising city where local people work together in partnership with the State to achieve lasting improvements for all communities.  At the heart of this bigger, stronger society will be local people feeling empowered to have greater control over their lives and the choices they make.

How can Croydon be bigger and stronger and more enterprising when our libraries are under threat? Where access to knowledge, information, cultural development, social interaction, books and a community lifeline is being eroded? Not forgetting the fall in literacy standards which will follow and destruction of invaluable links between local libraries and community groups such as schools and nurseries.

In particular, councillors have been pushing for community-run libraries and none more quite vociferously than in Sanderstead, where a volunteer model has been favoured over the present professionally-run service since December and the outset of the libraries consultation. Councillors say they are looking at other options, but at a recent council meeting, they would not give details of the other options being explored.

How can the state and communities work together when information is clearly not being shared? When it is obvious that local views are not being listened to, and when it is quite evident that our priorities are not their priorities?  

The results of the libraries consultation speak for themselves.  Libraries are used, wanted and needed by all the community and provide a comprehensive, efficient and reliable service to all. They act as the hubs of the community and in areas like Sanderstead even serve as the only public building. 

At this point in time, running so fervently with the volunteer model without giving details of other options being explored is not empowering the community.  I want to see Croydon grow and be strong, for this generation and the next. This won’t happen with deceit and suppressing information. 

Sanderstead resident's letter, published in the local Croydon papers

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Where have all the Librarians gone?

Despite repeated assurances from Councillor Sara Bashford regarding the 'genuine' nature of the consultation, and that no decision has yet been taken on the fate of our libraries there is cause for concern. A growing number of Croydon residents are already seeing a real and measurable change in the service on offer in our libraries.

As there has been huge public outcry over any proposed loss of service, it would seem reasonable that, if there was any change to our libraries, residents would be advised. Yet it seems that an 'internal reshuffle' has been undertaken quietly, just weeks after the Libraries consultation, without reference to or even notifying residents.  This has resulted in a loss in staff numbers and qualified librarians. 

At Sanderstead, we have lost access to the advice and guidance of our last remaining highly qualified and much respected librarian. We understand we are not the only branch left without a qualified librarian on hand.

We know at Sanderstead the staff are working particularly hard now with only two staff on duty at any one time, or just one on occasion. It seems this is also the case in several other Croydon libraries.

Sanderstead is now served by a stream of very occasional staff, several of whom only appear once a week. 

There is now even less time available to help any resident requiring assistance or advice.

It has not been possible to speak with the new manager either; a manager who has been in place for over a month now but yet to be spotted at Sanderstead by residents keen to meet with her.

The hoard of volunteers, apparently chomping at the bit to help, hasn't materialised to offer a hand either. Residents are little surprised by this as the community remain firm that volunteers cannot replace a professionally run library service and have always questioned whether these volunteers actually exist.

Continuity and value of knowing the community
So much for providing time for staff to build up a real rapport with the community served; so much for continuity. It seems Croydon place little value in engaging with and knowing or meeting the needs of the community it serves. Despite the dedication and commitment of the staff we have, the reduction in staff and the lack of a qualified librarian on hand inevitably leads to a lesser service.

It is little consolation to Sanderstead residents that we have just learnt of the promise of a share of a qualified librarian who will be available to us just one day per month, her first day being today.

Even the popular and often over-subscribed children's activities are no longer run by a qualified librarian other than the monthly Teen Writing Group running today.

Will Croydon put this right?
There is nothing like the professional library service offered by qualified librarians and staff who really know their library users; their interests, frailties and foibles. This was the message Croydon residents gave to the council in the libraries consultation, a message we are told was heard and would be taken into account.

It beggars belief that Croydon are eroding the standard of our library service, even before any further cuts are contemplated through decisions taken on the libraries consultation.

After all the problems and criticism that Croydon has faced with the 'genuine' consultations, including consultations on Arts and Heritage, and the parking consultation, we would hope that residents can trust that Croydon will do the right thing now when it comes to making a decision on libraries.

Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

But next time you are in your local library, do take a look around and see if things have changed, as ours has.

It is up to Croydon residents to pull together, to open their eyes, to start asking questions and  uncover the truth about what is really happening in Croydon libraries. Let's see the true spirit of  "The Big Society" in action, where residents unite to support within and across communities, get to the root of the truth and work together to ensure the Council takes full account of what residents want, value and are entitled to - a comprehensive and efficient library service, one run with professionally qualified staff.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Call to Croydon Library Campaigners

Sanderstead Library Campaign Group (SLCG) have formed in order to have our voice heard on the Libraries issue affecting Croydon. We are a group of concerned residents who have campaigned over the months to advertise the plight of Croydon libraries, Sanderstead Library in particular.

We have already made strong links with several other groups and Residents' Associations who are campaigning on behalf of their libraries but are seeking to further these links. We would welcome hearing from any other groups or individuals campaigning or affected by this issue to share ideas and information.

The libraries under threat are Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Norbury, Sanderstead, Shirley and South Norwood.

Find us, further information and contact details at

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Save Sanderstead Library Campaign Group launched!

Sanderstead residents have joined forces, campaigning to keep their much loved and well used local library open and, importantly, run by qualified librarians.

Residents are aware and concerned that Sanderstead Residents' Association and the local Sanderstead ward councillors have pushed for a community library, run with volunteers, from very early on in the consultation process.

Despite repeated requests and local outcry there has been no support from Sanderstead Residents' Association to champion the views of local residents, nor any reasonable dialogue with the campaigners and residents. Yet the association purports to speak on behalf of Sanderstead residents. This is at odds with other areas of the borough where Residents' Associations are fully supporting the communities that they serve.

We have recently lost our qualified librarians in the internal reshuffle, even before any decision on the Libraries consultation is taken. Many local residents are still unaware of this. The new manager that Croydon put in place about a month ago is yet to make an appearance at our library to meet with the local community.

None of this bodes well for Sanderstead.

So, as advised by the Council here, reproduced below, we are formalising our campaign group as we DO want our views heard on this very important local issue. As they advise:

"If you would like to make your views heard there are a number of ways to do so. You can:
  • attend your local neighbourhood partnership where local residents can ask questions and give their opinions
  • visit talk2croydon to find out what all the local public services are doing to involve local communities in making decisions
  • start your own campaign about an issue you care about
  • get involved in deciding the future look of Croydon by registering on our planning consultation portal
  • if asked, take part in one of our surveys or in the TalkAbout Croydon Panel.
We really do value the time and effort you make to tell us what you think."

We hope that, by formalising our campaign group, the Council and the Sanderstead Residents' Association will  now engage with us productively on the future of our library.

We are committed to speaking out for our community; a community that wants not only to keep our library open but to claw back the professional library service that the Council seems intent on eroding.

If you wish to support or join our campaign please get in touch via our website, by posting here or by sending an email to

Further information is available at

You may also like to follow us on twitter at @SaveSanderstead and @SandersteadLCG