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853blog: Greenwich moves closer to hiving off libraries
Filed under blackheath
Tagged as 853blog, blackheath, libraries, library
Does anybody have any reliable figures for how Blacheath Village’s new four-shelf mini-public library is faring in its temporary “hived-off” home in the Old Bakehouse? I’ve heard reports that scarcely anybody is using it. But if that’s a wicked lie I’m sure somebody will be quick to advise us what a big success the whole thing has been.
A chance to give my favourite hobby horse a bit of a gallop! There are currently requests in to Lewisham council for figures relating to book issues over the past 6 months at Age Exchange as compared with the Village library. Lewisham have also been asked for numbers taking part in the children’s Summer Reading Challenge this year and last, and whether there has been a rise in borrowings at the remaining “proper” libraries to compensate for the drop elsewhere. So the answer is No: there are as yet no reliable figures for the Bakehouse.
Official monthly figures for book issues at the Village library for June-November 2010 are around the 5,500 mark out of some 7,500 visits. Unofficially (via a BBC TV news item), AE are claiming 1,000 visitors a month which would suggest some 750 book issues. Unfortunately, even with extended opening hours these figures are unlikely to improve once refurbishments are complete and the shelves have been moved to a cramped, windowless basement with no increase in book numbers.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a horrendous decline in book borrowing in Blackheath, possibly by as much as 80%. As with Gloucester and Somerset, where campaigners have just won a splendid victory in having their library closures ruled as unlawful, it is the most disadvantaged members of our community who were the main users of the Village library and who, along with young children, are the most badly hit. This is all so shameful!
“… Anecdotal evidence suggests a horrendous decline in book borrowing in Blackheath, possibly by as much as 80% …”
Meanwhile, Age Exchange (the Blackheath Community Centre as will be) has had a one-off £200,000 pounds from Lewisham Council for providing these few shelves of library facility. Makes me wonder who got the better bargain – Age Exchange or the Council?
It’s official! Lewisham have revealed figures for book issues from Blackheath Village library and Age Exchange for October 2010 and October 2011.
They are: BVL,- 5,044; AE, – 572; so the anecdotal evidence was optimistic, if anything. These figures make AE the second worst performing community library after New Cross, which has received virtually no help from Lewisham, let alone £200K.
Book borrowing was also down in Lewisham and Manor House libraries, so local library users haven’t simply taken their custom elsewhere.
What a shambles.
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