Monday, 21 March 2011

North Area Committee and public meeting dates

Residents will have the chance to discuss plans for Arbury Court and Milton Road libraries at a city council meeting this week.

Cambridge City Council's North Area Committee will be talking about the plans, which are being developed by Cambridgeshire County Council, at its meeting on Thursday, 24 March at Manor Community College. The debate is part of the meeting's 'community forum', meaning residents will have the chance to add their voices to the debate. The main meeting is due to start at 7.30pm.

Meanwhile the county council has scheduled a series of public meetings on its proposals over the next few months, including the following dates:
  • Cambridge Central Library: Monday, 28 March, 7.30-9.30pm
  • Orchard Park Community Centre, Cambridge: Wednesday, 4 May, 7.30-9.30pm
Details of all the planned public meetings, including those to discuss the 13 libraries currently under review, are available on the council website.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Petition to Save Cambridgeshire Libraries

A new petition has been launched to stand up for Cambridgeshire's library service. The text of the online petition reads:

"We the undersigned call upon Cambridgeshire County Council to reject proposals to close libraries or to replace the existing professional service with a reduced service run by volunteers. We believe that libraries are a vital part of the community."

If you live, work or own a business in Cambridgeshire, please sign the petition and pass the link on.

Legislation review - have your say

Is the legal protection for libraries under threat?

While people up and down the country are campaigning to protect library services, central Government has launched a review of legal duties that 'may create unnecessary burdens' on local authorities - including the duty to provide a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service. The public can comment on the review, and it's vital that we let the Government know that legal protection for libraries is essential.

Currently, the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 says public libraries are a statutory service. Local authorities have a duty to provide libraries and promote them, and may not charge people to use a library or to borrow books. Where changes to a library service could be illegal, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a duty to step in.

But this week the Government launched a review of 1,294 statutory duties placed on local government, asking the public to tell them which legal duties are 'burdensome or no longer needed'. Among the hundreds of duties under review are three relating to library provision:
  1. The duty to provide information and facilities for the inspection of library premises, stocks, records, as the Secretary of State requires (reference number DCMS_026)
  2. The duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service (reference number DCMS_027)
  3. Supplemental provisions as to transfers of officers, assets and liabilities (this provides, for example, continuity of employment for transferring employees) (reference number DCMS_028)
The consultation closes on April 25, and you can comment using this online survey. The survey asks you to quote the reference numbers of each duty you wish to comment on (see above for these). We'd urge people to take part in the consultation and let the Government know why libraries need to be protected.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Save Cambridgeshire Libraries campaign

While our Friends group has been campaigning for the future of Arbury Court library, people across the county have been galvanised by the library service review and are standing up for services all over Cambridgeshire. Now anyone interested in showing their support for Cambridgeshire's library service as a whole can stay up to date by joining the new Save Cambridgeshire Libraries group over on Facebook. The page also includes a report of last week's meeting at Rock Road Library in Cambridge.

Arbury's branch is just one of 25 community branches in the county - not counting hub libraries and the mobile library service that is relied on by so many in rural communities. It goes without saying that the closure of any one of those libraries would have an impact on those that remain open - and even if all libraries stay open, cuts of £3.2m mean anyone who uses the library service in the county is likely to see a change.

We'd encourage anyone to join the group - and for fans of Facebook, you can also stay up to date with the latest news from FOAL at our own page.