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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Croydon spends £40K on library consultant

The Croydon Advertiser has covered the news that £40K is being spent on a consultant to oversee the outsourcing of all Croydon libraries. You can read the full article here. 

We encourage you to read the comments, including those of the campaign group:
“Anyone who wants more details can follow @SaveCroydonLibs @SaveSanderstead on twitter, the blog and website 
We need to ask ourselves why is Croydon Council so shy to share any details of their plans. The council only consulted on six libraries, ignored the "do nothing" option and admit it was mainly the users of only those libraries who responded. They have denied residents the breakdown on 412 responses they say informed their decision and are outsourcing the whole network without consulting users of the other libraries. 
There is also the plight of Upper Norwood Library @SaveUNlibrary and the announcement that New Addington Library will close and move to a yet unknown part of the cramped accommodation within the CALAT centre.”
and the detailed response by Cllr Timothy Godfrey:
“Basically Croydon Conservatives have lost control of the budget. The Library budget is approx £8million a year. They run 12 libraries and one central library for this. Upper Norwood Library, run jointly with Lambeth costs £400,000 a year (it is far larger than a branch library) with £200,000 being contributed by Croydon. 
Given how popular all the Croydon libraries are, with residents keen to get involved and support their local library, this is a golden opportunity to devolve the running of the libraries to local library panels. Keep the staff on Croydon payroll. Devolve the library budget, just like the government did over 15 years ago to schools (LMS) and you could end up with big savings and involve the community in setting priorities, and help to grow library use. 
Based on the costs of the much larger Upper Norwood Library, a budget saving of at least £1.8million could be made. Here is the maths:
Croydon branch libraries 12 x £400,000 = £4.8millionCroydon Central Library and home book service = £1.2millionUpper Norwood Library Contribution = £200,000Total budget requirement = £6.2millionBudget surplus: £1.8million
Instead of spending £40,000 on an expensive consultant, the Council should work with the local community to release a new era in community run libraries.  
I have set these plans out at full council and have written about this on my blog ( You can read the post in full here I have also has an article published on this on the website of the national Co-operative party (
The Tory Council ignore these positive suggestions because they are only interested in selling our libraries off in one contract and not working with local Croydon communities."
The comments left clearly demonstrate that local residents view the council's plan as ludicrous.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

MyVoice in Croydon Libraries!

The MyVoiceUK project, led by young people aged 11-19, has been running in Croydon for a little over a year now.  We only found out about it recently, but regularly attend the monthly meeting at Ashburton Library to organise library events, promote the use of local libraries and… eat pizza!

Last month we hosted a celebration of all the MyVoice UK work in Croydon so far, with a guest appearance of the Rap Poet Chris Syrus and LoveLife6958, who had worked with the MyVoice group in Croydon before we joined.

We also showed a video to summarise the work and events that had been organised by the MyVoice group in the last year, and interviewed some of the young people who participated in the running of the events. 

The Mayor of Croydon was unable to attend but the Deputy Mayor and his wife attended to show their support for the project. 
Unfortunately Liz Rose, the librarian who organises the MyVoice group, was ill on the day and unable to attend. I think she will be proud of what we achieved and we look forward to sharing our photos and videos with her.

Although the MyVoice project is not well advertised in Croydon, full details are on the Reading Agency site (where we discovered it!).

It is certainly a great opportunity for young people to get more involved in their libraries, and we personally feel that it is just a nice thing to do with your time. Hopefully the MyVoice group at Ashburton will soon be able to set up what some other MyVoice groups have done by setting up our own Twitter account, Tumblr site and Facebook page to better advertise what we do and what is on offer in our great Croydon Libraries!  Liz Rose, the librarian in charge of this project at Ashburton, is currently looking into this.

We would highly recommend trying it out at Ashburton Library. The next planning session will be held on Saturday 21st April from 2.00pm to approximately 3.00pm, although it can run on much longer.  It is good fun and a great constructive thing to be doing with spare time!

To find out more or to get involved, get in touch with Ashburton Library’s Liz Rose by calling her on 020 8726 6900 or emailing her at

We hope to see you there!

Amber and Poppy

You can find Croydon MyVoice on the Reading Agency site at 
You can follow the Reading Agency MyVoice project on Facebook at
and on Twitter @myvoiceUK and @readingagency