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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

New Addington Library - Seeing through the spin.

The latest news is that New Addington have a new library, according to Cllr Pollard. The "news" was produced in both local papers. The Croydon Advertiser article didn't even make the online listings but is reproduced below.

Strikingly similar? They would be, as the text of both is lifted, almost word for word, from the council's own press release.

So, now to the truth.

What New Addington actually has is a co-located facility, including a library over two floors.

This was achieved by drastically reducing the adult education space in the old CALAT (Adult learning) building, now renamed the New Addington Centre, and locating the library in a shared space, along with other services.

The children have lost access to a secure enclosed garden area off their part of the library in the old library.

The children's area may be larger in the new setting, if you disregard the loss of the garden space, but both articles fail to mention the close proximity to the IT suite used by adults who look on to the children's area, unlike the librarians who have no station in the children's area and are situated at the counter by the main revolving doors, out of sight and ear shot of the children's section.  In the old library the staff were stationed in the centre and were fully accessible to the children using the library.

There was just one PC in the children's section of the new facility when it opened last week and not all PCs were in working order, something this library has in common with many other Croydon libraries.

The article reports,

"There will be a new stock of books as well as DVDs and talking books.
Following a public consultation more historical, crime and adventure novels were purchased."
Indeed there are new books but considering, how low the stock was run down in the original library, it is little wonder.  Take a look.

The before:

A purpose built library with easy access, surrounded by green space, set well back from the road, with ample parking and next door to the leisure centre.

with row upon row of empty shelving before closure ...

Note the seating area at the end,  just one of many dotted around the old library building.

And, the new co-located facility

With some newly purchased books, but hardly brimming with books and, if you take a closer look, the selection is not that great either.

The new books stand out a mile, although many of the older tattier books have been weeded out.

 Front on presentation of books, propped up without support, to fill the space.

And still full rows of empty shelving as book stock is not sufficient to fill the new low level displays in the new facility, that replaced the heigh units in the old library.

And to show how limited the stock is, here is the choice of titles by local children's author, Jean Ure. One new, one old.  Hmmm....Which to pick?

The adult books are housed upstairs, accessed via a lift.

The biggest plus though was that the library was well-staffed and, as always the staff went out of their way to greet visitors, help library users find items they required and to offer help and information.

And quite what the selection of new books was based, who knows.  If it was the survey undertaken some serious questions need to be asked. The survey was apparently available online and hard copy yet the report produced on the outcome is rather scant on detail, particularly number of respondents.

You might like to note, for instance, that the largest number of responses received to any question posed was just 57 adults, who responded to the question regarding which services are important to them.

And, even more stark is the figure for those who responded on behalf of younger library users. Just FOUR, or perhaps just THREE who attend activities responded.

With such a small response rate the other details and percentages are almost meaningless.

Did the council really replenish the now dire book stock that has been run down across the whole network on the thoughts and views of no more than 50 or so individuals? You can access the survey document here.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

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