Tag Archives: library

Lewisham Council is hiding library numbers

Gina writes:

“Calling all dedicated and hard-working volunteers in Lewisham’s so-called community libraries. Want to know how you’re doing? How many books you’re managing to lend? How visitor numbers are holding up?

Well, tough. As of October 2012, Lewisham council has decided to stop allowing access to the statistics which it used to publish on a quarterly basis, often before anyone even asked.

Now Lewisham tell us we can wait until the official government statistics agency, CIPFA, produces its report in December 2013 for the year ended last April. What they don’t tell us is that CIPFA only provides figures for the borough as a whole, not for individual libraries. So there will be no way of knowing – to give but one example – how many times Blackheath community library’s total of 13 books for teenagers made it off the shelves. Lewisham also fail to mention that CIPFA make a hefty charge for access to their publications.

Surely the council can have nothing to hide! Like, how are “community” libraries faring compared with the ones still being run by the local authority? Come on, Lewisham. You’ve handed over almost half your libraries to volunteers. Now let the people who are doing your work for you see how they’re doing.”

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Tractor production is up 30%

Particularly choice quotes about the library from July’s Blackheath Assembly minutes (emphasis mine):

The meeting received information that the temporary library set up at the Bakehouse has been successful to date. The resource continues to attract more people particularly children and young mothers and these numbers will only increase once the new library is up and running[...]

With regards to the main replacement library project, an £800,000 investment project is on coursee[...]

It is envisaged that the new facility will be open on the 22 November 2012 by Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham and David Grant, the Mayor of Greenwich. Over the next month or two there will be a competition for the public to put forward their ideas of what the new centre should be called so there is a sense of involvement and community spirit. The competition will carry a prize of £1,000 and the winner will be announced at the opening ceremony by Sir Steve. Participants can put their entry forward via email or through the website.

If you have any suggestions for library titles, please send them here: localassemblies@lewisham.gov.uk

See previous post for a clearer picture.

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Filed under age exchange, blackheath, blackheath village, books, lewisham, library

Blackheath’s library: Lowest number of visits in Lewisham


The graph above shows the number of people who visited Lewisham’s various libraries in 2012. The green line at the bottom is the Blackheath community library.

Let’s zoom in a bit, and just look at the community libraries:

So of all the community libraries in Lewisham, ours gets the fewest visits (and the fewest items issued too incidentally).

But maybe the old library was never very popular either, right? Except that here are the two months of visitors data just before it closed. Look how they compare to the same two months in 2012 for the new library:

For every one person that walks into the current library, more than five people walked into the old one in 2011.

The old library which is now a private school.

I hope the Labour councillors and MP are proud of this achievement. Bravo.

Issue Data from google doc here.
Visitor data from google doc here.
See previous post on this subject Ex-libraries from 2011

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Ex Libraries

Look at these two charts, and tell me when you think our library was destroyed.

Number of books issued in Blackheath Village libraries from April - October 2011

Number of books issued in Blackheath Village libraries from April to October 2011

Visits to Blackheath Libraries between April - October 2011

Visits to Blackheath Libraries between April - October 2011

The Age Exchange Library is a joke.

In May 6,758 items were borrowed from the library in Blackheath Village. Then the library was closed, and replaced with a community library in Age Exchange. In October, after the Age Exchange library had been open for 3 months, only 832 items were borrowed.

“I didn’t come into civic life to close libraries”, I believe is the familiar refrain. So don’t. Re-open the real library. I don’t care how you do it, find a way. Otherwise you’ve just guaranteed the quickest, most efficient way to dumb down an entire generation. Shame on you vandals.

The data comes from questions by councillor David Britton (a Tory with a slightly scary looking union jack on the blog head), made available by Lewisham councillor Christine Best, the cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, at a council meeting on 29th November:

Here are the two google docs: Question Answer

Including an apology for the crappy numbers:

There have been some initial difficulties with data collection from the Community Libraries, and the Service overall has had a difficult year, completing a major staff reorganization and the introduction of new technologies. The implementation of such major change has had a negative impact on performance, but the Service is confident that both issues and visits will now begin to increase.

Yes, a bit. Maybe. Or perhaps it will just be wound down and closed.

See also: The Bookseller: Catastrophic plunge in lending at Lewisham’s community libraries

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Greenwich moves closer to hiving off libraries

More good news.

853blog: Greenwich moves closer to hiving off libraries

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Childrens books scattered across the library


Taken by twitter user gwithiansunset
By the way, if you’d like to stop nasty Mr Pickles from turning our empty Nationwide into a betting shop, you’d best click this link.

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Polite protest

Shame on you Steve Bullock grafitti on Blackheath Library
Here’s the very polite graffiti left on the window of Blackheath Library. It doesn’t seem like enough of a protest. I wonder when is the last day that library users are allowed to borrow books from the library, and how many they are each allowed to borrow. I wonder if someone chaining themselves between the railings either side of the railway bridge on a busy Monday morning might have more effect than all of the alternative proposals, plans, and half-baked Big Society alternatives. The loss of a local library is intellectual theft from anybody who used to use it. And if any local luminaries feel like blaming it on the current government, or the previous government, then please don’t. We know. In the words of Uncle Monty “Shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour.”

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Farewell To Blackheath Library

Farewell to Blackheath Library poster
Spotted on a tree along Pond Road, a “farewell to Blackheath Library” poster:

Blackheath Village LIbrary Users’ Group

Farewell To Blackheath Library

Please join us for a meeting to mark the closure, on May 27th 2011, of our village library.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday 17 May from 7-8.30pm at the Bakehouse, Bennett Park, (behind Age Exchange).

We shall thank our supporters and librarians, and formally wind up the Users’ Group. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Wine and soft drinks will be available for a donation on the night.

Any queries to se3villagelibrary (at) yahoo.co.uk or 020 8852 4032.

I hope the councillors who agreed to close it have the balls to attend.

UPDATE: My Latin typo corrected (I blame comprehensive educayshun you know….)

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Meet your new library: 5 book shelves

Age Exchange Library Plans
The Blackheath Village Residents Group has put out an email newsletter, containing more details of the planned library inside Age Exchange. It’s a series of pdf files explaining, among other things, who you should thank for these plans.

The links to the PDF files:

As you can see below, from the wooden models and sketches, someone has spent a fair amount of time and money preparing all of this. It’s a very professional job, prepared by people who obviously have expertise in submitting planning proposals to local councils. Can’t wait to see what becomes of the old library building next year…
Age Exchange Model Lower Ground
I feel it’s my duty to mention that the BVRG would really like you to attend the next Blackheath Assembly. So would I. It will be held at 7:30pm on Thursday, 31st March, at St Matthew Academy, St Joseph’s Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0XX. Here’s a Google Map.

They’d also rather like you to not discuss anything at all about the music festival on this blog, ok?

There is currently a lot of discussion about the NIMBY event application on the Heath, not least by mostly anonymous contributors to the Blackheath Bugle blog. The BVRG view is that these matters are best discussed openly in public forum. An opportunity to do so is at the next Blackheath Assembly meeting.

No more idle chatter over here, hmm? That sort of thing causes trouble, and trouble we do not like, ok? Good. Glad that’s sorted. As you were.

In seriousness, I totally agree that the best way to get local issues resolved is probably face to face in a public forum. That doesn’t mean that an anonymous forum (like this) has no value. It’s just a different kind of forum. Which is why the Age Exchange Library arrangement sits uncomfortably. I don’t want a library in a windowless basement. I want the library that our council is obliged to maintain, without any back room deals made in smoke filled rooms with property developers.

Age Exchange Entrance

Age Exchange Ground Floor

NB: I realise that there is a mobile bookshelf, and a couple of other shelves in different rooms, but 5 bookshelves had a nice ring to it. It’s still tiny when compared to the existing library.

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Blackheath Library hurtling towards Tripoli

It’s a great quote, and highly appropriate for Blackheath. It also chimes very nicely with the quote from pinefox’s blog shown below. Pretty much sums up almost everything I feel about living in London. So go and march on Saturday.

When libraries, pools, parks close, when civil servants are fired, we are told it’s unavoidable; there’s no more money; books must be balanced, debts paid. It sounds grimly plausible. But then a military scenario appears out of the blue, unpredicted, unexpected, a contingency not part of our plans and budgets. Not a contingency that we urgently need to respond to, like a German invasion force or asteroid heading for St Albans. No real threat is posed to British people or territory. The distance from London to Tripoli is, wait for it, 1,448 miles – a distance greater than the length of the UK or France. But here all the hard-headed economic calculation, supposedly uncircumventable, is shelved. The cold-eyed realists become sentimentally expansive. Infinite riches are promised to keep military jets in the air.

Cheaper Than Bombs

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