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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Stop the privatisation of UK Public Libraries: LSSI's written evidence to the Culture, Media and ...

Well worth a read.

Stop the privatisation of UK Public Libraries: LSSI's written evidence to the Culture, Media and ...: Reading this you could mistakenly believe th...

LSSI indicated an interest in #Croydon Libraries.

There is a wealth of information on privatisation, including more on LSSI at

Friday, 3 February 2012

Croydon under fire for National Libraries Day

The Bookseller carries an article which mentions Croydon and its response to promoting National Libraries Day, which will be marked by libraries around the country, holding hundreds of special events. The full Bookseller article is here.
The Bookseller points out that some councils have come under fire for failing to schedule any special events for the day. Kent was the first authority to come under criticism, now followed by Croydon. We previously covered the Croydon story here.   
Again we have an unidentified spokesperson for the council making statements on behalf of the council, refuting the claims of Elizabeth Ash, a Croydon library campaigner, who spoke on behalf of the Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. The nameless official claimed that there were,

"a number of events taking place under the National Library Day banner this Saturday, including an author reading by Monica Carly and a Manga workshop by Chie Kutsuwada. Other events include Rhymetime and Storytime in several libraries." 
The campaign group sought to clarify the situation over the past month. The facts are:
  •  residents across the borough reported they could find no information about any special events going on locally.
  •  residents' enquiries to staff were met with the response they knew nothing of National Libraries Day, even as late as yesterday, just two days before National Libraries Day.
  •  a resident who emailed an enquiry, some weeks back, when she could get no information in branch, still awaits a response.
  • There is still no reference to National Libraries Day in any library or on the council website.
  • The activities that the council claim are being run under the National Libraries Day banner are regular activities, run in any case. A look at the council's website will confirm this. There is no reference to National Libraries Day against these events either. In fact, if you compare this weekend with next, there are far more activities running next weekend than this.
  • Manga workshops are part of the work undertaken by the MyVoice project in Croydonfunded by the Reading Agency, and have been running for some time.
  • Cllr Sara Bashford, although taking up valuable time at this week's council meeting, regaling us with her tale of a long overdue book being returned, made no mention of National Libraries Day. She also made not even the most fleeting reference to National Libraries Day in her Cabinet member bulletin or in any of the written questions or her verbal responses given to a number of supplementary questions asked.

The only activity that might just be considered as an 'additional' event this weekend is the author, Monica Carly, reading from her second novel, The Golden Thread.  A search of the on line catalogue shows that only three of her books are held in Croydon Libraries.

Residents have also noticed that recent author events have offered the opportunity to purchase the books being promoted. Here is just one example.
And a search of the catalogue shows not a single copy of this book is held in any Croydon library.

As one resident remarked,
"It's hardly promoting the use of our libraries, is it!"  
If Croydon are planning to celebrate National Libraries Day tomorrow it highlights the colossal lack of effort that has been put into promoting the day or the events they purport to be running under the National Libraries Day banner. Even the staff themselves were unaware.  Quite shocking when you consider the effort going into National Libraries Day activities and their promotion elsewhere. 

Is it any wonder, given the evidence, that residents and campaigners doubt the word of yet again another nameless, faceless council spokesperson?

Upper Norwood Library celebrates National Libraries Day

Whilst Croydon seem a little more than reticent to promote their libraries and the book borrowing on the day Upper Norwood Library are clearly promoting National Libraries Day. There will certainly be enough to do with all the special events on offer. Just take a look here!

The Upper Norwood Library Campaign will have a stalls inside and outside the library. A petition will be available for anyone who has not already signed.

We have covered the plight of Upper Norwood before. Click here for details.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Transparency and Accountability -The faceless, nameless Croydon spokesman speaks

Croydon library users have grown increasingly concerned about books being boxed up across the borough as no one has seen anything quite like it before.  Previously, any unwanted books have been put on public display for sale.

Croydon Council is aware of the concerns and have contributed comments to an article on the Croydon Advertiser website,  Croydon Council denies book sales mean closures. At the point of posting the website is down so we reproduce the article below. 

So let’s examine the facts.

The Advertiser reports that concerns, or as they put it, ‘rumours’, “have reached a crescendo in recent weeks after library users noticed books being sent away from libraries."

As a campaign group we are not aware of any library users being concerned about books leaving library premises, just a genuine concern about the visible effects of this unprecedented cull of book stock.

The Advertiser claims that a spokesman for the council stated  that the library service has simply changed the way it handles unneeded stock. This unidentified council officer claims that instead of trying to sell unused and tatty books to library users, libraries sell their books to company Revival Books, which recycles or donates the books.

We think this story again demonstrated the Advertiser’s unwavering trust that what they are told by the council is completely true and warrants no further investigation.

Here’s what Revival Books themselves claim to do. You can find Revival Books here:, and we quote,
“We seek to find a second life for as many of the books as possible and we sell these in retail outlets or on the Internet.  Working with a paper recycling partner we recycle any books we do not use and these books are pulped for on-going use.”
So Revival Books do not, as the Advertiser claims to have been told by this faceless, nameless council spokesperson, just recycle or donate the books that they collect.  Where is the economic sense in that? Their prime motive is to sell off, for profit, any book stock they can through a network of retail outlets and on the internet. And if you click here you can see a list of all those currently for sale.

It’s not just the new practice of boxing up stock that is concerning residents, it is the sheer scale of the exercise that is causing alarm, evidenced by the appearance of rows of empty shelves in some branches and the complete removal of carousels, previously packed full of paperbacks, in at least one library. 

The Advertiser goes on to report that this faceless, nameless spokesperson claimed that,
 “the new approach generates money and means none of the books has to go to landfill.”
Surely this is a terrible admission that the council have been dumping all their excess books in landfill sites whilst expecting residents to recycle. Did the reporter not think to question this?

The faceless, nameless council spokesman goes on to offer,
"There aren't going to be any closures. There are clearly some people out there who are deliberately trying to raise concerns by getting library users needlessly worried about non-existent library closure plans."
Croydon Library Campaigners were first to break this story and we know residents have made direct contact with the Advertiser to pass information to them.  Why is it that the Advertiser declines to speak with the residents and campaigners highlighting these issues and swallows completely the clearly flawed offerings of a council spokesperson who is clearly unwilling even to be identified?

Let’s not forget either that it was the Advertiser who broke the story of New Addington Library closing, which we have already covered here How can the same paper print something that directly contradicts their own exclusive about the New Addington closure?

The Advertiser is also the same paper to report positive progress on Upper Norwood Joint Library, which we covered here. Given the evidence it seems this is anything but the case.

And we also put our questions to Cllr Bashford, where we covered the issue of the concerns on the massive cull of book stock, which we reproduce again here:

Certainly the book stock being removed is not being replaced with anything like a similar volume of new stock.  No wonder residents and campaigners are concerned, and rightly so. 

If the council really wishes to allay residents’ fears wouldn't the easiest option be to give residents clear and correct information?  

No wonder this council spokesperson wished to remain nameless. Shouldn't this coyness to be named, coupled with all the glaring flaws in what he had to offer, have given rise to caution before the Advertiser went on to print yet more incorrect information?  We certainly think so.