Monday, 26 January 2015

We can save our libraries!

This blog normally focuses on trivial things like cake and dresses but I'm so angry as I type this. I've got tears in my eyes and I'm frustrated. I work in the library sector and although academic libraries where I work are not under threat I feel the need to stick up for my colleagues in the public sector where I started my career.

What do people imagine staff in libraries do all day? Sit down and read? Shush people?

During my time in public libraries I helped people apply for jobs, access their family history and was the only point of contact an elderly, lonely person had all week. I helped negelected children with their homework, found accommodation for the homeless and helped people to educate themselves who came from deprived backgrounds with little opportunities. Highly trained and dedicated staff should not be replaced with volunteers. There are no examples of community run libraries offering the same service as those staffed by professionals.

I'm shocked by the proposed changes to Cardiff Public Libraries and I'm going to ask for your help.


Cardiff’s public library service is being dismantled. The Central library, voted one of the top six libraries in the world, is now going through a second year of budget cuts. Last year they lost the top floor and a quarter of their staff, and closed one day a week. Next year it could become a “Super Hub” and lose even more floorspace when Marland House, the housing benefit and council tax centre, moves into the building. Hundreds of books have already been removed and library staff have been warned not to talk about the cuts on social media.

Meanwhile up to seven community libraries in Cathays, Radyr, Rhiwbina, Rhydypennau, Roath, Rumney and Whitchurch will stop receiving any council funding at all. The plan is to 'hand buildings over to the community' by making trained staff redundant and replacing them with volunteers. If these “community groups” cannot be found to take over they will have to close completely.

Libraries are more than a place to store books – they are the only free space where residents can meet in the winter, and a vital place for elderly, disabled and unemployed people to access computers and to search for work. Our right to participate in cultural life is essential for a democracy, and if we don't put up a fight for these libraries now we won't get another chance.

Be part of history. Defend our library service in our capital city. Make the council provide a comprehensive service as the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act demands: Save our libraries!

Called by Cardiff County UNISON & Cardiff People's Assembly


Head to the event facebook group for more information.

Gemma
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4 comments:

  1. I've been following this and it's upsetting. Also, I think it's actually quite offensive to say that volunteers can do the same role.

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  2. A friend works at one of the libraries in question so I too have been following this closely and signing petitions and made sure I told the council my thoughts! The sad thing is that community groups just will not be able to afford to run the libraries - if they take over, I give them a year before they have to close. Many of the libraries are from 1900 ish and need extensive repairs and maintenance. So, so sad. See you at the 'read-in'! X

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  3. I'm afraid to say that yes, that's exactly what people believe librarians do all day. Most people don't visit libraries often enough to understand the range of facilities on offer and so feel absolutely that volunteers can shelve some books and keep the peace. If that's all it were then they'd probably be right.
    Some education needs to happen.

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  4. Aw Gemma I hope you're ok I know how much libraries mean to you.

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