Monday, 28 February 2011

Two public meetings this week - Rock Road and Milton Road

Two public meetings at Cambridge libraries this week will give users a chance discuss ways of safeguarding the future of their branches. Friends of Rock Road Library will host a meeting at their branch on Wednesday, 2 March while Chesterton Community Association will hold a meeting about the future of Milton Road Library on Friday, 4 March.

Rock Road Library, Rock Rd
Wednesday 2 March

St Andrew's Hall, St Andrew's Rd, Chesterton
Friday 4 March
doors open 7.15pm 
meeting from 7.45-9.15pm

Those wishing to attend on Friday should email to help them cater for expected numbers. If you have a particular question or point you want to raise, please send it in advance to the same address.

As we've previously reported, both branches are on a list of 13 currently under review by Cambridgeshire County Council. Ideas being explored include joining with other services to become 'multi-agency community hubs', or becoming volunteer-run Library Access Points. The council says some libraries could close 'if sufficient savings cannot be found'.

Although Arbury Court Library is not on the list of branches currently under review, we remain concerned about the impact of the planned cuts and changes on the library service as a whole. We urge anyone concerned about the future of these branches to attend these meetings.

Public meeting at Rock Road Library: March 2

Users of Rock Road Library in Cambridge will have the chance to discuss the planned library cuts at a public meeting at the branch this week. The meeting will focus on those using the Rock Road branch, but everyone is welcome. 
The details are as follows (from Friends of Rock Road Library):
"There will be a meeting on Wednesday, 2 March at Rock Road Library, to discuss the planned cuts and possible changes in the library service. The aim will also be to work out what we can do to help safeguard the future of Rock Road Library and keep our local library going.
"The meeting will be from 7.30-9pm and will be attended by Councillors Tariq Sadiq (Coleridge Ward, Labour, County Councillor) and Geoff Heathcock (Queen Edith's Ward , Liberal Democrat, County Councillor). We have also invited Christine May, who is Acting Head of Libraries, Archives and Information, Cambridgeshire County Council, and who was very informative at the meeting we held back in August 2010."

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Update: council go-ahead for library cuts

At a full county council meeting on 15 February, councillors agreed to push forward with plans to drastically alter the way library services in Cambridgeshire are run, slashing £3.2m from the budget for libraries. More details are available on Cambridgeshire County Council's website, but the four main changes agreed are:
  1. Creating a charitable trust to take over the running of the service by April 2012.
  2. Cutting staff numbers, with library branches working together in 'clusters' and bringing in more self-service machines.
  3. Finding more volunteers, and encouraging communities to help manage and run the library service.
  4. 'Changing library infrastructure': some libraries could become volunteer-run Library Access Points or multi-agency 'community hubs'. Some libraries could close 'if sufficient savings cannot be found'. Libraries are under review at this stage are:
    • Bar Hill
    • Buckden
    • Comberton
    • Cottenham
    • Great Shelford
    • Linton
    • Milton Road, Cambridge
    • Rock Road, Cambridge
    • Sawston
    • Sawtry
    • Warboys
    • Willingham
    • Yaxley
FOAL is concerned about the impact these changes could have on the quality of the county's library service as a whole, and particularly concerned about the impact on Arbury Court Library if other branches close.

The council is promising communities will have the chance to give their views on the plans at a series of public meetings in March, April and May. We will post more detail about these meetings as soon as we know more.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Library users show they have plenty of heart

We had a fantastic response to the 'Love your library' intiative, with plenty of children and adults marking Valentine’s Day by writing messages of support for Arbury Court Library on paper hearts.

You can see a selection of the messages people left on our Facebook page:

One user wrote: “I love books and reading and this library is so handy, with friendly staff and a good range of books.” Another said: “This library is special.”

Library staff described the response as ‘hugely positive’. One staff member told FOAL: “Every second person who comes through the door asks us about the future of the library and shows concern.”

The ‘Love your library’ initiative was the brainchild of Barbara Bueltmann, secretary of FOAL. She said: “I thought Valentine's day was a good opportunity to give the community a chance to express how much they appreciate Arbury Court Library, so I made some hearts and left them at the counter.
“You can see from the messages how much the library is valued as a communal space offering well managed access to information of all sorts. Someone calls it a 'life saver'. There is much concern about the future of the professionally-run library service – not just the Arbury Court branch.

“I am angry about the cuts that were agreed to in this week’s county council meeting. I think the cuts are hitting the wrong people worst – people at the lower end of society. I wish to live in a society that allows all to have access to information and education, and do not agree with the current Government strategy to cut public services in the way they plan to.  That is why I became active with FOAL, and we will keep making noise about this.”

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Show your love for the library on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, but forget old clich├ęs like flowers and chocolates - this week we're asking you to show your love for Arbury Court Library with a simple paper heart.

You can express your feelings for the branch by helping yourself to a heart, and adding your name and a message explaining why you love the library. If you're feeling creative, why not draw a picture or decorate it too?

Blank hearts can be picked up from the counter until Tuesday, February 15, after which they will be collected and made into a chain. We'll try to post some of the best messages on the website.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Read-In success - Save Our Libraries day

We had an amazing turnout at Arbury Court Library's Read-In today as part of the national 'Save Our Libraries’ day.

Children and pensioners were among the dozens of library users who held an hour-long Read-In to demonstrate just how much the branch means to them. The event was also attended by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert. Plenty of books were checked out, and it was great to see so many people enjoying their local library - meanwhile the wonderful staff (who no volunteer could adequately replace) were very gracious about us descending on them for an hour.

During the day, people across the UK took part in similar actions in response to cuts and closures facing library services up and down the country. Other actions included a reading flashmob in Cambridge’s city centre, organised by library users angry about proposed cuts of £3.2m in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire County Council plans could see the county’s library service transferred to a trust, with fewer staff and an increased use of volunteers at branches.

At the same time, 13 of the county’s 25 community libraries are ‘under review’, and although Arbury Court is not among them, we are anxious about the impact these changes could have on library users across the city and county. We are pledging to oppose any reduction of library facilities or services.

Arbury Court Library is a vital facility for its community, as are all branch libraries across the county, providing access for all to essential resources and knowledgeable, trained staff. Any reduction in that service would be a disaster for residents, and we're delighted that so many of them turned out today to make their voices heard.

The library is always busy, but today it was absolutely buzzing. Thanks to all who came out to show their support!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Save Our Libraries Day: Feb 5

This Saturday, Feb 5, is national Save Our Libraries Day, when people all over the country will be descending on their local branches to show just how much their libraries mean to them. The day is designed to raise awareness about cuts and closures facing library services up and down the UK.

Two events are planned in Cambridge, including our own family-friendly Read-In at Arbury Court Library from 2-3pm. You can show your support for this fantastic facility by showing up, borrowing a book and reading with other library users.

Earlier in the day in central Cambridge, shoppers in and around the Grand Arcade will be treated to a reading flashmob from 11am. Details of this child-friendly action can be found on the event's Facebook page.

If you're not already a library member, why not take the time to join on Saturday?