“The library I worked in from 2015 to December 2016 was ‘hubbed’ last October and my fully qualified librarian manager was forced into accepting ‘voluntary’ severance, as was my library assistant colleague.”
That’s what June* wrote to tell us after our story last week Reading between the lines, on the effects budget cuts are having on library services and jobs. she was just one of many of you got in touch to tell us what’s going on with your local library.
Several libraries in June’s area had been relocated to ‘council hubs’ which are predominantly housing and benefits advice offices.
“The council are promoting this change as a way of saving libraries,” she said. “However, library staff jobs are being lost.”
“Members of the public themselves were mystified as to why the library should be in this housing office – and some of my former library borrowers were very upset to see me in the same location as the place where they have to come to discuss their benefits difficulties.”
When the library June worked in until 2014 was closed temporarily, June and other staff warned managers that the books wouldn’t be safe if air wasn’t allowed to circulate.
“Despite their assurances,” she recalls, “they did nothing to protect the stock, which became damp and mouldy. 10,000 books were pulped.” The closure became permanent.
What’s happening in your area?
Use the map below to see how many libraries have closed in your area (data from the BBC in March 2016).
Paul Smith from Somerset told us about cuts to mobile libraries in his area: there were six mobile libraries and six drivers in 2017 – now there is just one of each left.
“Most qualified librarians have lost their jobs – there are just a small handful left,” he adds/
“Some qualified librarians are working as part-time or casual library assistants. All the specialist posts – information, children’s, local history, music and drama – have gone.”
Another member said: “Warrington has 11 libraries including the oldest public-funded lending library in the country and nine of them, including that particular library, are threatened with closure.”
Another told us: “My local library has closed. Council wants to turn it into a gym with some library service. Ridiculous idea. There are gyms all over the area.”
It’s not all bad though, one member said: “Luckily where we live all our Libraries have remained open and are staying well stocked and well used. Not without a fight though!”
*June is not her real name