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TOPIC: Library changes in prospect as part of cost-cutting measures

Library changes in prospect as part of cost-cutting measures
13 Nov 2014 17:24 #691

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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Enfield Council is consulting residents about proposals for a radical restructuring of its current library service. The changes are designed to reduce the costs of library services -  Enfield is having to contend with a cut of £80 million in the amount of funding it receives from central government - through greater concentration of resources, while at the same time providing library services across the borough and modernising the types of service that are available.

The consultation asks for opinions about various aspects of its planned strategy and then asks residents to state their preference for one of two alternative options, both of which would involve conversion of most of the borough's 17 libraries into "Community Libraries", which would have reduced library services and share their accommodation with other services and organisations, such as community groups.  However, no llbraries would close, as has happened in other London boroughs.

Both options would see Palmers Green Library becoming one of four "Flagship Libraries", the others being Enfield Town, Ordnance Road and Edmonton Green. Edmonton Green would be enlarged; Enfield Town and Ordnance Road are both new buildings and Palmers Green is currently being refurbished.

As well as modern library services, the Flagship Libraries would provide a range of advice and assistance services, such as help in job seeking, personal budgeting and business innovation. 

Under Option 1 the Flagship Libraries would be open seven days a week with extended hours, but all other libraries - including Winchmore Hill, Southgate Circus, Oakwood, Ridge Avenue and Bowes Road - would be downgraded to Community Libraries.

Under Option 2 Oakwood Library and Ponders End Library would not be downgraded and continue to offer "traditional library facilities". However, in order to make the same savings as under Option 1, the Flagship Libraries would open only six days a week without extended hours.

Option 2 would rely on volunteer staff to a much greater extent than at present - an increase from 60 to 200 is proposed, so it seems probable that it would involve redundancies among the borough's librarians and dilution of the amount of professional librarian expertise available to the public (unless many of the volunteers were retired librians).

From a Palmers Green-centric viewpoint, Option 1 would seem preferable, but people will have decide whether they are happy that the price of longer opening hours in Palmers Green would be reduced services for people living in Oakwood and Ponders End.  Bear in mind too that Palmers Green Library has hitherto been open only for five days a week.

A further proposal is to use volunteers to deliver books to the homes of people who are unable to travel to a library.  This would replace the current mobile library service (whether fully or only partially is unclear).

The Council website has more details of new services planned for the Flagship Libraries and some rather more sketchy informaton about how the Community Libraries would function.

Related links

Paper questionnaires are available in libraries.  The deadline for responding is 2nd January 2015.

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Library changes consultation: Deadline extended
03 Jan 2015 23:41 #692

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The deadline for responding to the public consultation about proposed changes to libaries in Enfield has been extended to 6 February 2015. For details of the proposals see www.pgweb.uk/newsmobile/117-council-services/621-library-changes-in-prospect-as-part-of-cost-cutting-measures.

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