Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
HARINGEY Council Cabinet is to discuss a reduction in (i.e set to slash) branch library opening hours by more than one third.
This cost saving comes at the same time as the identity re-branding continues to be rolled out, while the initial "one-off" set-up costs in September 2015 were a mere £86,000.
Co-incidentally, two giant Haringey-London logos feature inside the Marcus Garvey Library. Historically, cuts to the library service in Haringey seem to be made first to those that are the most accessible by the public, i.e. the branch libraries.
A Lettings Agency that was set up by the Council earlier in the year (Move 51° North) had haemorrhaged more than £406,000 by July and the costs (losses) may now have mounted to about three-quarters of a million pounds. So far, they've let 3 (three) properties. Here is their website.
The page for this Tuesday's Cabinet meeting is here, as is the link to the 476-page, 27-megabyte PDF document from which the attached information was extracted:
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Haringey Libraries have some of the longest opening hours in London,with branch libraries being open 58 hours over 6 days a week and the three large libraries open 62 hours over 7 days a week.
Once, these hours would have been touted as a virtue and something to be proud of. Here, it's suggested that this service to the public is somehow wasteful.
Reducing the number of hours branch libraries are open from 58 to 36 hrs per week will bring us closer to the level of service provided elsewhere.
Doubtless it will, but normally local authorities try to improve to higher-or best-practice. Closer-in-line to lower standards? An apology might have been more tactful and palatable. Here, a reduction in the level of service to residents is passed off as some kind of good or benefit.
Retaining a 7 days per week opening hours for our three main Libraries mitigates the impact of the reduction in the branches.
Not slashing hours at the larger libraries is passed off as a mitigating factor. Little use if one’s branch library is some distance from a big library.
Those who find it difficult to travel to one of the three main libraries when their local branch library is closed will feel a reduction in service.
Yes; generally, when a resident has to walk or travel more than a kilometre to a library, it is a significant disincentive to using a library at all. This tends to apply to the young, the old, the infirm, the disabled, the vulnerable and to mothers with young children.
However those who are truly housebound will be able to make use of the housebound library service. This could increase volume for the housebound service and increase costs in this area.
Yes, if the housebound service really does respond to take up the slack. Often, Council savings are much or partly vitiated by increased costs in other areas.
But what do we know about this proposal? How much it will save in year one - presumably this amount won't be spent in years 2 onwards either, but appears as zero in those years.
What is the pattern of usage in these branch libraries at present? Will the 36 hours cover 95% of the current usage? Do branch librarians sit there twiddling their thumbs for long empty hours? If so it might be a good deal.
Do the truly housebound get to libraries at present? One can only assume not. So is the knock on effect just something an officer put in to fill a gap?
What anyway is the purpose of libraries? In the 1930s the Boots Lending Library was a godsend for my mother. In the 50s and 60s I borrowed books from the municipal library. But now? Wood Green library is a really quite unpleasant place to visit. Its only purpose seems to be to vacate other municipal offices so that Haringey can realise its potential as a property developer. As a reader of books I am now a second class visitor to Hornsey library. If I can make my way past the racks of DVDs and the happy clappy singing infants I can still find a few books, though increasingly few. I read much more now on a Kindle simulator on my phone than anywhere else. I think this leaves me in a minority. A great many people no longer read at all, but prefer to watch videos, even of something so simple as a recipe.
The two library like purposes I see being fulfilled in Hornsey library are 1) the use of internet connected computer terminals, and 2) the quiet study room. Do the branch libraries serve these purposes?