Having taken a break from blogging for a while, I' returning with a rant about library cuts. Although much in the news last year,but less so this, yet they are still going on.
What makes local councillors think that closing a local branch library in a city suburb a good idea? The library was built 80 years ago, at a time when the local area was being developed, including the street in which my home is situated. It also has a fairly large council housing estate very near to it, a secondary school just up the road, a primary school near as well. It is just across the road from the university campus, and about 3 minutes walk from the university library. It was suggested some years ago that this branch be closed and the local residents use the university library. That is not an option for most of the users of the public library, as the university library has totally different collections of books to the public library, nor does it provide the services which are provided by the public library, such as rhyme times for toddlers and pre-school children, events for school-age children, computers free of charge for all who wish to access them to use the internet, to search for a job, help with their homework, and so on. The university library is set up to provide academic resources for its students and staff, not for the educational, information and recreational needs of the general public.
Currently the branch is staffed by unqualified, but trained staff, supervised by qualified librarians based in the central library. I spent 18 years of my career as a qualified Chartered librarian in branch libraries in the city, but there are now no full-time qualified librarians based in branches within the city. The city council has recently held a consultation on its proposed plans for the library service, plans which include the possible closure of 5 branches within the city, unless volunteers or some other organisation can come forward with sustainable proposals to run them. Four of these branches are situated in areas of some deprivation and where schools are not all of the highest standards.
There is an excellent description of the problems which can arise with the use of volunteers in a publicly funded service here: https://deefinch.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/the-truth-about-volunteers.