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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Carillion's Curse - part 2

Keeping track of the situation, some two and a half months on...

It is fair to say that modest progress has been made since the previous post reporting the state of Croydon Central Library back at the end of May.

You ARE now welcome to Croydon Central Library

Gone is the unwelcoming closed entrance shutter that was in place for so many months, 

even if somewhat reluctantly opened....

thanks to the efforts of the lead for Libraries, Cllr Timothy Godfrey.

Sadly though, library users are still so conditioned to going in the exit, the exit is the main entrance for most, even months later.

Lighting, surroundings and outlook

The lighting was dim on all floors months ago, and still is.

Previously some of the seating was in a poor state and, at times, oddly placed.

Now the issue of oddly placed furniture appears to have been remedied but the furniture remains in a poor state with threadbare seating still apparent.

Months ago there was a partly dismantled shelving unit, complete with metal shelving protruding beyond wooden side of unit. 
The metal jutting out at child eye level was not even masked until weeks later.

Months on though, the piece of metal has been removed, perhaps as a result of a library user pointing this out to the person doing a health and safety inspection.

Quite what purpose the remaining structure serves nobody knows. It's still there.


Previously there were signs everywhere, advising of the systems in place, not to move chairs and tables, where to go when stations on different floors were unstaffed and that staff were no longer able to help on matters such as booking PCs.  There was odd signage too, referring to not plugging in lap tops at points where no sockets existed and not moving chairs from an area with no chairs.

Signs are inconsistently formatted - different colours, fonts and styles - giving an unloved and unprofessional feel to the place.

Other than the removal of some of the notices and colour coding that had been put in place by hastily and poorly applied thick coloured tape across corners of tables to denote study and non study tables, little has changed.


And after

Some signs on tables still remain. Where removed, the cleaning contractors have not even managed to clean the sellotape marks off the tables, leaving grubby marks on surfaces.


Promoting what's on offer

Sadly there is little change here. Shelves are often untidy and trolleys are stacked with unprocessed returns.

Displays are still dismal and the same as those on show months before.

The leaflet racks are often virtually empty.

The Twitter account @CroydonLibs still fails to engage with library users or to promote events.

And notable changes

for the better....
New IT and access to floors is now in working order
At least most, if not all, of the PCs are now in working order, which is a welcome change. Gone are the out of order signs on PCs, on the lifts and the escalator.

Magazines and papers are now readily available on shelves that lay bare before.

Uncertain future, sustainability or effect
Maps are also readily available.

Whether or not they are still available in branch libraries has not been explored though.

Staffing was increased, on occasion, after the previous post went up late May, but quickly dropped to previous levels.

At no time in the past few months have we seen, or anyone we've spoken to seen, staff on level 2 or on the ground floor in the children's library. Signs to direct library users are permanently in place and regular library users know the system well.

Staff are tied to work stations (presumably due to shortage of staffing), rarely on the floor engaging with library users or dealing with stock on shelves and trolleys. Queues at desks are often evident.

Ever reducing stock
It is of concern that the stock is reducing even further. The proliferation of hazard-taped spots, empty shelving and bare unworn flooring where shelving once stood is ever more apparent.

So what exactly is Croydon getting for their money from Carillion?

 Not a great deal.

Let's hope the damage can be reversed by the new Labour administration.

Croydon Labour continue to promise a public meeting.

To be fair to Croydon Labour it is early days for the new administration. Nevertheless it is clear that Croydon libraries need urgent action and support.

Liaison with the lead on libraries, Cllr Timothy Godfrey and hid deputy Cllr Oliver Lewis has been sought, with an offer of support. A meeting with the Leader. Cllr Tony Newman, has been held, with promise of more engagement with the campaign.

The new administration is making positive noises about keeping their election pledge to bring Croydon Libraries back in house.

Let's hope this aim is realised.  It is the only point that has raised serious spontaneous applause at two public meetings in Croydon recently.