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Friday, 21 September 2012

Did you take the six book challenge?

We posted previously to ask whether residents were inspired by the Six Book Challenge, running in Croydon libraries until the end of September. We based the post on an article in the Croydon Guardian, which quoted Cllr Tim Pollard promoting the scheme,
"With the weather we are having this summer a lot of people may find themselves looking for things to do indoors, so a few visits to a local library might be just the way to stay out of the rain."
You can read the Croydon Guardian article here.

We were interested to know whether residents were motivated by the scheme.

We've summarised some of the comments received here, which you can read in full on the link above.

Tracie said,
Such a shame about the decrease in book stock and poor selection of books. This surely must affect take up of what should otherwise be a very good scheme to get people reading and to promote libraries. The scheme's cash prize is not a motivator for me, but more the chance to read from a variety, may I even say vast selection of well-selected and even new book titles. I do hope it can still be a success though and if so, it might even go as far as to incentivise the council to reconsider their book cull and start replenishing book stocks instead. Particularly if enough people comment on the lack of and variety of books.
Stephanie added,
I hate the decrease in books and so does my kid. I believe, really, really believe in libraries - but the emphasis on words written on paper does seem to be decreasing. Does this mean we need libraries less? Looking in my house at the amount of space taken up by old videos we don't watch much, DVDs we don't watch much, CDs we don't listen to much, I don't think so! It's way more cost-effective to have them for a while, then give them back for someone else. Simples. 
I like cash, but not as much as a decent range of books. I think the two libraries I use most often ( Sanderstead and Selsdon) try their damnedest to offer a good service, with many activities aimed at drawing in the kids - presumably in the hope of getting their parents as well - and mostly succeed in spite of seldom seeming to have a lot that is new. Sanderstead in particular is starved of much, not even opening a full week anymore, so I can't always go there. I can't see the point in empty shelves: they just show that the council want to close it and just haven't got there yet. 
I took part in the six book challenge. It took me two visits, mostly because I forgot about it for a while. Normally, it would take me one. I didn't think it was too much for most though. Perhaps it needed smaller steps for some? I know people who haven't read a whole book since they left school - I might find them hard to relate to on this point, but I think setting them a target of six books might be unrealistic. I don't think it need be anything wildly expensive: money is always welcome, but I was happy with what was on offer. Perhaps after one book, you get a bookmark, three books, you get a pen and six books the DVD rental? That'd work for me! Running it more than once in the year might also be a good thing, as the child-free might take most of the summer to notice the campaign...
David @davcv commented,
I had to ask at the Central Library to join the "Six Book Summer Challenge", which I only knew about from an earlier tweet from: @SaveCroydonLibs, the bookmarks were not on display in the library and someone had to "go and find them".
I have not bothered getting my bookmark stamped for several reasons:
1) I put my books in the returned bin. Why queue up to return books just to get a stamp. If the library staff were encouraging participation they would ask you when you took books out if you were doing the challenge and give you stamps for your returns. They can see your history when they swipe your card. 
2) There is a condition that one book must be fiction and one non fiction. If the intention is to encourage reading what does it matter what is read. 
3) Only two stamps per visit, seems again to be a completely pointless rule. So someone gets six books out, reads and returns them three weeks later in what way does this show less interest in reading than going once a week for two books. Chances are when you return your books you will take some more out. 
4) Not particularly interested in DVD hire or prize draw myself, but if this is recognised to be an encouragement then why not make it a truly unlimited offer subject to fair usage. Give a stamp for every book and allow multiple entries (not specified whether this is permitted). Many commercial DVD rental companies offer free tempters of up to a year to retain brand loyalty. 
A little more thought and marketing would probably have made this something people wanted to participate in. My personal opinion is that only existing library users would bother with this scheme at all. 
And the comment on the original article by Elizabeth reflects on last year's experience,
Oh dear! Many had such high hopes, when Cllr Bashford was replaced by Cllr Pollard in the recent reshuffle, that we might get better representation, information and transparency. Seems though that Cllr Pollard is intent on glossing over the issues, as Cllr Bashford did so well. Is this Croydon council policy? 
I read all last Summer but my bookmark was only stamped once. Hard pushed staff were too busy coping with the short-staffed library to promote this scheme and residents did not want to add to the burden of their workload.
The children's summer reading scheme was even worse and the true impact of this will surely show this year. Although many signed up, a large number rarely if ever returned because of the chaos, including cancelled events due to lack of volunteers.Will people turn up this year? Many doubt it. 
The opportunity to volunteer has already been widened from 16 - 25 year olds to just 16+ years in order to attract more volunteers. With only a month to go it is difficult to envisage how enhanced CRB checks will be obtained and training given. Many suspect neither will take place as there is no mention of either on application form or information leaflet. 
Perhaps the Croydon Guardian could put these points to Cllr Pollard as no one from the council is engaging with residents or library campaigners.

So, what is your experience?

Do YOU have a view on Croydon's 
Six Book Challenge? 

We'd love to hear from you too!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Have what little say you can on New Addington Library

The closure of the purpose-built New Addington library is not negotiable, according to sources. The decision was taken without any consultation with library users and local residents.The closure of the library, which many suspect is to make way for a Tesco store or similar, is being pitched to the public as a relocation.

The library will be moved into the nearby CALAT (Adult Education) building, joining CALAT, Job Centre Plus and The Little Stars Nursery, who currently occupy the space. In addition to adding library services the centre will also provide housing and council enquiry services and will be renamed The New Addington Hub.  That's an awful lot to pack into an already well-occupied and well-used space!

The move has been delayed several times, originally announced by Cllr Sara Bashford back in January 2012, via the local press when she struggled to come up with feasible responses to the obvious questions a move like this raised, such as exactly where would the library space be allocated within the building and she was unable to give any reassurances regarding book stock. Admitting she simply did not know what space the library might be able to occupy seems a very inadequate level of detail on which to base such a major decision.

Since then there has been an extensive cull of books in preparation for the move, leaving row upon row of empty shelves and top shelves 'filled' with books displayed, front on, to help fill the void. The valuable courses run at the CALAT Centre have been cut also, as has much of their teaching space, in order to accommodate the new hub.

The latest news though is that a consultation has been launched to find out what library users value, and copies are available in the library yet a press release regarding this is yet to be released.

The consultation is pretty basic. The council are not asking what impact this new arrangement might have on you, the resident, but then it is very difficult to say with such scant information.

If you wish to have what little say the council will permit you to make, you can find the adults' and the children's consultation documents on line here:

The closing date is 21 October, 2012 - a Sunday when not one of Croydon libraries is open to receive your response and Royal Mail will not be delivering.

Unfortunately the hard copies, only just hitting libraries this week, already muddy the waters as they are clearly printed with the closing date of 30th September. No doubt residents will be delighted to learn that that Cllr Tim Pollard, who replaced Cllr 'Booktoken' Bashford as lead in the area of libraries, is carrying on the Croydon tradition of flawed library consultations.