No Strategic Thinking on Libraries; Viewpoint

Article excerpt

An open letter from John Dolan, former Head of Libraries at Birmingham City Council, to Coun Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and Coun Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture The Birmingham Post sets out cuts planned for Birmingham Libraries. (, November 11) This comes out one day before the last Council public consultation meeting on its budget plans.

There was no mention of libraries in the list of cuts up for public consultation.

In all the public papers the words "library" or "libraries" are not used anywhere.

This is actually about dismantling the service through the back door while pretending to fix the front door. Birmingham has already dismissed most of the senior and middle management. * Previous cuts: What is the financial value of cuts and savings already made this financial year? Managers and staff? Bookfund? Other resources? The closed Children's Mobile Library? The closed Schools Library Service? Maintenance budgets? Training budgets? Reduced hours? Libraries closed "for repair"? * Investment: What is being invested in library buildings, their maintenance, on re-opening libraries closed "for repair"? How many libraries already require repairs over say, pounds 50,000? How much will be spent on self-service machines? What's the timescale? Who will be charged with installing them and training staff? * People: Why does this report not say that, already, nearly all senior and middle management have been made redundant, that the majority of librarians are being made redundant? Why are you deliberately getting rid of librarian skills? How will you provide library services of any quality? * Volunteers: You talk of using volunteers.

What skills will they need? What will be their responsibilities? Who will manage volunteers? How will they be trained? Will they be able to do information searches, tell stories to children, advise on reading, assist with homework, show people how to use the computer, plan and run summer reading/ literacy programmes? Will they have access to my personal information? * Bookstart: Who will distribute the Government-funded "Bookstart" books for babies as the Bookstart librarian has been made redundant? * Income: Where's the business plan for leasing rooms? …