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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yes, I know I'm always banging on about them, but i felt compelled to repost this contribution to a discussion forum to which i am subscribed for work purposes. It concerns the impact of PL closures on elderly people in rural Gloucestershire and the official response:

"We in Gloucestershire have spent over two years trying to urge Gloucestershire County Council to apply some good sense to their provision of library services. Many, many times we have been shocked by what we have seen and heard coming from an authority that fails to understand the importance of libraries.

We didn't think it could get much worse but today we were shown an email received by a lady who was losing access to the library service, as a result of the cuts, from the "Library Service Manager".

Despite the "restructured" mobile library bus driving through her rural village, Gloucestershire County Council have decided they will not allow it to stop there. The village in question has no other facilities as they have all been shut down over the years. When the lady appealed to Gloucestershire County Council to rethink the axing of her and her elderly neighbours mobile library or to provide a suitable alternative the Library Service Manager replied with

"You might want to set up a mini library of your own, using books that were left over from the village fete"

and then proceeded to tell her that

"I do not think that any further email correspondence on this matter is required"

It saddened me greatly to see a professional librarian suggest that the left-overs from a book jumble would make a suitable alternative to a properly and professionally managed library service. A once excellent library service is been reduced to a shelf of discarded book-jumble in a village hall

Utterly, utterly depressing. This is not a profession I recognize anymore.

Johanna Anderson
Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries "


XRV thoughts, please...
 

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Wing Commander
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Make a formal complaint to the council under its complaint's procedure and copy the Local Government Ombudsman. Write to councillors direct. Write to local MP. Write to Eric Pickles.


Or were you looking for a more XRV solution? - buy a Kindle:D
 
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It saddens me to think that we have to cut public services but in the current climate and the need to cut costs then certain things just have to go and if there is a choice between books in a van and people getting their bins emptied and roads maintained then the books in a van gets it.

I'd like to think in an ideal world we could keep everything but in reality the councils have to build budgets based on allocated funds and I'm sure that although the overall costs for the mobile library service aren't too great they are probably still expensive compared to other services that a greater number of people actually use and benefit from.

I for one haven't been into a library for a good number of years (not that I'm for one minute taking the line that because I don't personally use something it should be closed) but I also suspect that's the same for most people. With the internet and 24 hour telly there seems little demand for printed books these days and the kindle is king.

Why don't you find out from the council how many actual people used to use this mobile library in that particular village on a weekly basis. Not just drift in for a chat and to keep warm but who actually took out books. If the numbers are commercially viable them it gives you good ammo for restoring the service. If the numbers are poor then at least you can understand their logic.

Suggest they start up a kindle service for people impacted by the change.
 

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I am surprised they didn't suggest they get with the 21at century and all buy kindles.

The state of public services in the country is a joke all round. Higher tax, less service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Well, I have to disagree with much of what has been said. Whilst of course some kind of cost-benefit analysis has to be made, kindles are not the answer to the loss of public libraries. For elderly people, libraries can be a lifeline - and the social element IS important, as it is well-proven that loneliness and isolation leads to ill health - arguably a much more expensive cost to the public purse. And I know from my own parents - both well-educated, intelligent folk in their eighties - that they can no longer cope with technology and the fast rate at which it all changes. I have struggled to help them with it (and continue to do so) but despite my own professional training as a librarian, I am unable to bring them up to a level of competence. Libraries can act as an intermediary between people and technology, with trained personnel to help folk navigate their way through a morass of information. And Boris admits that he has not been into a library recently - I think he would find that they are very much changed places these days, and have worked hard to provide a space relevent to the 21st century. As far as cost is concerned, I recognise that the public purse is not a bottomless pit, but this letter to Westminster Council puts the cost into perspective:

The Staff in Westminster have written and publicised this open letter to their local councillors.


To the Councillors of Westminster,

Westminster Libraries currently uses less than 1% of the council’s overall budget. We have 11 libraries, an archives service, a reference library, a music library, a home library service and the largest online database for a...ny public library service in the UK. We provide books, DVDs & CDs, Internet access, CV building workshops, Under 5s sessions, class visits, language and computer courses, community groups and workshops and engage teenagers through projects like Fast Forward which has taken over from the connexions career Services: We promote health, community and citizenship and provide a free space to work, socialise and study for residents and visitors.

We now have Parking, Council tax, Rescard, Housing and OneStop services incorporated into our day-to-day duties with no additional funding as a service or as employees; In fact we’ve provided all these services at this low cost whilst going through 5 years of cuts that has already closed libraries, reduced our budget and decimated our staff levels each and every year.

When employment goes down, our workload goes up, and as homelessness increases and incomes plummet, our footfall increases. Year-on-year we’ve risen to the challenge of providing all these services for that ever shrinking less than 1% of the council’s budget.
 

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Lulu, the kindle remark was a facetious one. What I meant was I am surprised some brainless councillor hasn't suggested it already. I for one think libraries are a necessity. My kids are 16 & 13 now and up until we moved to Spain 3 years ago, they were still using our local library regularly.

Sure we have budgets and we have to stick to them. What upsets me is how the money is spent and how much we are asked to give.
 

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Yes we have all been brainwashed into thinking we can't afford anything.
I'm not a Library user, but undestand the value of 'real' public services.
To save money, our village Post Office was shut and we were told to travel 3 miles to the next one.
Within a month they could afford to throw billions of pounds at the banks.
We live in a society driven by money, and taxes.
Little of which comes back to the public.
One idiot in power can do a lot of damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, I've not ever used the fire service or the air ambulance (thankfully), or the school system (for many years, at least), or social services (except for my parents) etc etc but I'm grateful that they exist and want to see them well funded. Meanwhile we see the big corporations "avoid" tax legally, and billions paid in bank bonuses. To me, public libraries can serve as a means of social mobility and a lifeline for many folk.
 

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This is what I don't understand:

All political parties seem the think it vital that old people should not use their savings - usually saved in the form of their home - to pay for their long-term care. Politicians are running around trying to find a way for the taxpayer to fund long-term care for people who have amassed a fortune in property so that that fortune can be protected and passed on, tax-free, as inheritance to their kids (who presumably do not want to use the money to look after their parents either, even though their parents probably spent every penny they had at the time on those very same kids).

In order the fund this inheritance bonanza we must cut public services - the services that affect the poorest, the people without huge property wealth.

I don't understand this at all. If you save for a rainy day, when it rains you spend your savings. If you build up wealth over the your working life, it makes perfect sense to spend it looking after yourself in old age.

If you amass a £500,000 home and then spend 25 years in a care home and live until you are 100, I don't see why you should have the vast majority of that £500,000 protected to pass on to your kids. Surely you saved it just so that you could pay for your own care in old age?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lulu, the kindle remark was a facetious one. What I meant was I am surprised some brainless councillor hasn't suggested it already. I for one think libraries are a necessity. My kids are 16 & 13 now and up until we moved to Spain 3 years ago, they were still using our local library regularly.

Sure we have budgets and we have to stick to them. What upsets me is how the money is spent and how much we are asked to give.
Sorry Nick, i was obviously in rant mode and took it literally (I've been exposed to too many similar remarks recently...). Off my high horse now (before it gets turned into quality burgers). :D
 

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All these things are really good and as I said just because I don't use a library doesn't for one minute mean I want to see them closed. I'm a firm believer in public service but we just have to be realistic.

Fixed libraries do seem to provide lots of additional services these days. The one I pass in Edinburgh has a sign out side for coffee so it's clearly diverging. The problem is all these additional services are not seen as core business and in a councillors eyes you could just as easily get a coffee at Starbucks, pay your parking by post and hang around reading magazines and keep warm in Tesco.

Libraries exist to be a wonderful archive of books and to provide the general public access to the archive anything else is just gravy and not core. As long as people attempt to justify the existence of libraries on these additional services that are reproduced elsewhere in the public sector they are doomed to failure when the money axe swings. If you try and justify 1% of council spend (so over £2M) on providing coffee and crèche facilities you are doomed. Get the facts and figures on core usage and plan a strategy from there.

In my opinion for libraries to survive then need to be see as what they are, archives of literately treasures. If I want to see a first edition of something then I should be able to see it at the library. This may mean fewer higher quality libraries but if that's the cost of survival then we have to consider it. Nobody has a right to survive when times are hard and we are all having to cut our cloth accordingly. If I want to read a book that I cannot afford to buy then I want to have access to it. But I don't need it delivered in a van especially if by doing so I deprive much greater numbers of people from getting basic public services.

So back to the original issue. If the impact of the loss of this mobile library is one or two people can no longer get the book they want then there are ways round that. If the numbers is in the dozens or hundreds then you have a good case for it's retention but to try and justify the continuing provision of a (probably disproportionally expensive) van full of books on the grounds that you offer a whole bunch of additional services in fixed libraries then it's doomed to failure.

ps I really do want to see ALL public services survive. I've not been swimming for years neither have I been a battered or homeless person but I'd also have no urge to see these, or any other, services closed down. But the reality is we have to spend what little money we are allocated wisely and spend in the best way that minimises the impact on jobs and services.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, well, well. I gave the example of the fire service at random, and now look what has just popped into my inbox from those good people at 38 degrees. Let's all sign the petition:

Revealed: it looks like the government is planning to privatise our fire service.
It's trying to sneak in new laws that "would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider". [1]

Every day, fire crews put their lives in danger to keep us safe. Within minutes of an emergency, we can expect fire engines to be there to save lives and protect our property. Privatising these vital services might seem crazy. But that’s exactly what the government is trying to slip through a hush-hush parliamentary committee. [2]

Let’s make sure the government knows we’re watching. We’ve seen bad ideas get much too far before. We need to move fast to show the government that we want a fire service whose priority is protecting people's lives, not making profit. Together we can prove how unpopular privatising the fire service would be with the public. Sign the petition here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/fire-service-sell-off

Our fire service is a precious emergency service that we all depend on for our lives and our safety. Between 2011 and 2012, English firefighters attended 606,000 incidents. [3] If the government is allowed to sell the fire service off to private companies, then the essence of our fire service, a service for all of us whenever we need it, might be lost forever.

Private companies have been circling the fire service for years. [4] They recognise that money can be made and they want to piggyback off a service the public holds dear.

The government can’t afford another big battle over privatisation. It'll know that 38 Degrees members were responsible for stopping the sell-off of our forests and making sure the NHS changes were as controversial as possible. [5]

So let’s make sure they know they're up against us again. Sign the petition to stop privatisation of our fire service now:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/fire-service-sell-off


Thanks for being involved,

Becky, James, Hannah and the 38 Degrees team


NOTES
[1] Daily Mirror - Fire sale: Secret government bid to privatise fire and rescue services revealed: Privatised fire and rescue services: Secret Government plans to sell off 46 fire and rescue services revealed - Mirror Online
Letter from Brandon Lewis outlining the plan: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/fire-letter
[2] For more information about the Regulatory Reform Committee click here: Regulatory Reform Committee - UK Parliament
[3] Fire Statistics Monitor, April 2011 - March 2012: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6959/2172323.pdf
[4] BBC News - Fire Service College to be sold to Capita: BBC News - Fire Service College to be sold to Capita
[5] Great news: Government agree to protect our forests: 38 Degrees | Blog | Great news: government agree to protect our forests
NHS: A round up: 38 Degrees | Blog | NHS: A round up of what we did and what it means
 
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So what's so really wrong with the kindle idea. The main costs of the library will be wages, building and books. Replace those costs with Kindles to borrow and books to rent from a council run server and et voila huge savings all round and books for all to read. It just requires a bit of vision and determination.


Sent from my iPhone with a smile :)
 

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Wing Commander
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The fire brigades started as private brigades funded by insurance companies. If there was a fire they would trundle out and look to see which insurance company's firemark was nailed to the wall. If it was their company firemark they would put out the fire. If it wasn't they would turn around and leave without helping put out the fire.

If you visit the Chartered Insurance Institute you can see a massive collection of firemarks.
 

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Wing Commander
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So what's so really wrong with the kindle idea. The main costs of the library will be wages, building and books. Replace those costs with Kindles to borrow and books to rent from a council run server and et voila huge savings all round and books for all to read. It just requires a bit of vision and determination.


Sent from my iPhone with a smile :)
Kindle app is free on computers and phones. Hundreds of books are free - I read a couple of Oscar Wilde's books recently for free and Started Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species.
 

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Honestly I don't get why all these people fall for this private is better malarky. Its nothing more than a scam by governments to raise some this year cash at the expense of future years.

It makes no difference whether you are talking about the telephone company or the fire brigade. The only reason a private investor would want to be involved is because they can take a profit form their investment. a Profit that the consumers pay for through higher prices and often poorer service and benefits for those sacked.

At lease even in an inefficient public service (and there is no reason why a PS has to be inefficient) all the money stays in the loop... People pay taxes and people get jobs and then people pay taxes.. Its the same money and all the time. People also have spending money with which to richen the economy by buying records at HMV or Pick'n'mix at Woolies thus providing income and taxes there. Once you start to syphon money away to shareholders money ceases to come around, people get made unemployed and become a burden on the state.
 

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We have lots of internet cafes.
Why not have a similar service for libraries, in rural areas have a library with a coffee shop and a dinner service. That way the elderly have a place to meet, they can sit in a warm area get a decent meal and borrow the book. It would save money on the meals on wheels type of service and by combining the needs into one building could save on running costs.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

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This is what I don't understand:

All political parties seem the think it vital that old people should not use their savings - usually saved in the form of their home - to pay for their long-term care. Politicians are running around trying to find a way for the taxpayer to fund long-term care for people who have amassed a fortune in property so that that fortune can be protected and passed on, tax-free, as inheritance to their kids (who presumably do not want to use the money to look after their parents either, even though their parents probably spent every penny they had at the time on those very same kids).

In order the fund this inheritance bonanza we must cut public services - the services that affect the poorest, the people without huge property wealth.

I don't understand this at all. If you save for a rainy day, when it rains you spend your savings. If you build up wealth over the your working life, it makes perfect sense to spend it looking after yourself in old age.

If you amass a £500,000 home and then spend 25 years in a care home and live until you are 100, I don't see why you should have the vast majority of that £500,000 protected to pass on to your kids. Surely you saved it just so that you could pay for your own care in old age?
If another journalist gave as a typical example of a 1/2 million home, 25 years in a care home and dying aged 100, you'd tear them to bits!

For most working people, their home is the result of paying a mortgage for most of their working life. They would like to pass on some of it to their children in order to give them some sort of opportunity for a decent future. For these people at least, it's hardly an "inheritance bonanza" as it wouldn't really add to some substantial standing disposable income fund. It's a way of trying to gain a measure of financial stability for their family.
For the wealthier, it's a way of consolidating their existing wealth.
I've had recent experience of this new 'care home' industry riding on the backs of poorly pensioners property. Solicitors running the finances (aka house value) of the old and sick, releasing funds for the 'care' and then charging the same again to administer it. Hospitals who don't want to give end of life care short of starving them to death. so get them into a private care home because hospices can't cope because they're still mostly charites.
It will ensure that those who started with nothing also end with nothing (not so their wealthier compatriots).....That'll keep them in their place!

Hijack over....I got drawn in. Apologies Lulu.

It's a shame that the only thing preventing people from having these facilities is the finance. Because everything they need apart from that is sitting there available.

If I sound angry it's that I come across too many of these 'semi-drunks' from Parliament 'running' the place and lecturing the peasants on how they should manage better......Remember Mathew Paris and Lady Olga Maitland (pass me two bullets!:hitler:) showing people how to cope on the dole....FFS!

Boris, I'm sure that in the present climate all sorts of cutbacks need to be made. I look forward to these cuts being reinstated when the economy improves.

Don't hold yer breath!

Peace and love man.:angel1:
 

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What's wrong with starting with nothing and ending with nothing if you had a good life in between?
 

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SOTGATT
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What's wrong with starting with nothing and ending with nothing if you had a good life in between?
Nothing mate.....you just carry on that way....and your 'betters' will carry on assisting you in your endeavour.
 
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