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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?

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