|Copyright COVEN 2011|
He first explained that due to government spending cuts the council as a whole had to make unpleasant decisions and his department alone had to find savings of £3,000,000. When looking around for the best way to achieve this it was noted that some local libraries had become under used, very run down and would be difficult and expensive to refurbish but cuts had to be made in this area and that is why the consultation had begun to find out what residents thought.
We raised with him our concerns about, amongst other things, the quality of the consultation which we felt did not make it sufficiently plain that cuts were planned. It appeared, certainly at first, as if we were being offered mobile library provision and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was as well as, and not instead, of a permanent library. Cllr Ogilvie agreed that others has raised similar concerns about the quality and clarity of the consultation and took our points on board.
Next we raised the fact that though our library is only open 17 hours per week use is not consistent over that period. We suggested perhaps targeting the opening hours to times of high usage might be more efficient and would allow for some reduction in hours without removing a permanent library from the area.
The actual building itself is a real problem. We do not have a real library, only 1 room in a sports hall, it is extremely cramped and only available when the hall is not in use. The library is very difficult to find and has no spare space were exhibitions or events could be held. We feel that this is certainly one of the factors holding back its development. It has been suggested, we understand, that space could be made available in either the refurbished Richmond Hill Community Centre for the computers - which would be available for all not just library patrons - or that a community space, including a library, might be incorporated into the Richmond Hill Primary School development. We certainly think that both these ideas as worthy of serious consideration.
We stressed to him that there is a real need in this area not only for the facilities that a permanent building could provide in terms of computer access and books but also the valuable resource a library building here could be. We would like to set up book clubs to encourage both parents and children to try new books, to explore reading or researching into items local groups across the city could bring to the library, as happens elsewhere in the city, this is especially important in an area like ours were educational attainment is below the city average but at the moment there is simply not the physical space for such ideas to by tried out.
Our area is poorly resourced in many ways, and though we know some other areas of the city are similarly disadvantaged our large number of constantly fluctuating residents makes a meeting space a real necessity. With the schools here getting more and more crowded and home Internet access less common in this area than some other parts of the city it would meet many needs on many levels.
We can see that some residents, particularly the elderly or infirm, might really benefit from a mobile library service which comes to them given the difficulty of reaching the present library but if the opening hours of the library were more strictly targeted to the busiest times we feel that the unused library time could be provided by targeted mobile libraries in specific areas.
Cllr Ogilvie listened to our representations and confirmed that no final decision has yet been taken. He promised to feed our concerns back to his committee and we will keep you informed of any developments as we hear about them.