Saturday, 9 July 2011

WCC Library Report Part 03: The next 11,000 words - Somewhere to Hang my Hat

Somewhere I can Hang my Hat
Jump to:  WCC Library Report Part 01 and
WCC Library Report Part 02

In the next 38 pages (pp 6-43), there are around 11,000 words. That could be equivalent to reading the first 35 pages of a Harry Potter novel (and yes, I do wish I had a magic wand - don't we all).

So what's in it? Many many short paragraphs labelled with numbers (there are 14 in the introduction). They tell us the report's purpose is to feedback from the 12 week consultation. What I'm looking for, at this stage, is any information I can hang my hat on and disregard the waffle.

In my view, each point could be contested. For example, The proposals to reduce the number of council-run libraries from 34 to 18 would affect less than 10% of all library visits (1.9). As as data fact, that may be true. But would you take away a disabled access ramp in a village, just because only two people use it? My point comes from equality - and it's not new. I am not the first, and certainly not the last, to ask - how can it be a consultation when WCC have decided to bring down the hammer and the people have to either watch it fall or rally a survival plan?

Online Statistics
Section two is called Transfomation which talks about plans since 2008 (makeovers, audiobooks, ebooks). Next comes Budget and after that Consultation. There is one section called Informing local people (4.11) which talks about radio, TV and newspapers. 

Then this, In addition to traditional methods such as roadshows and meetings, we used less formal ways to engage hard-to-reach groups who could be affected by the proposed changes - including Twitter and, for the first time, a consultation 'blog' (4.11.5). I'm speechless, this is 2011, the whole reason libraries are finding it tough is because there is a massive increase in online use. And then, some bright spark calls blog readers and twitter users hard-to-reach groups. And then it says a few tweets reached 56,190 followers (4.11.6).

Try this from the Key Findings (pp19-20): 5.2 Summary of results from consultation questionnaire

• 4,977 questionnaires were returned (55% on paper and 45% online)
• 94% of these were from individual library customers
• 3,098 (62.2%) of responses related to an individual library
• Two-thirds of respondents were female
• Nearly 40% were over 65 and almost 60% between 25 and 64
• Over half of respondents understood why the Council needs to make changes
• A third said the proposed changes would have a significant impact on them
• 40% said the changes would have some impact, and a fifth said none
• Two-thirds said they would still be able to access a library
• More than half said they would be able to access library services online
• Over 40% would be interested in using a community library and a third not
• 910 respondents said they were interested in volunteering

5.3 We received 15 petitions containing more than 10,000 signatures:

Baddesley 339
Bedworth Heath 102
Bidford 525
Binley Woods 718
Bulkington 3399
Camp Hill 150
Dordon Primary School 117
Dunchurch 1403
Henley 807
Hartshill 181
Keresley 289
Kingsbury 873
Studley 700
Water Orton 256
Othello mobile (Bedworth) 182
Total signatures 10,041

So, far from reading half of the report, and the facts I have seen, there is a large shadow of REASONABLE DOUBT that closing 16 libraries cannot be a good idea. For example, the public want their libraries to STAY OPEN

Section 6 Submissions for Running a Community Run Library (p 17) and the Community Business Case. To read page 26 and see the names of actual members of the Public, Church Reverends, Councillors and Charity Groups is a moving experience. You can almost hear the group discussions and feel the energy of these committed and courageous people. I do know that many local MPs assisted too, but they are not named.

Hold the Phone: 6.15 Evaluation Process Outcome states there are only six submissions which had provided business cases. They were: Baddesley Ensor, Binley Woods, Bulkington, Harbury, Kingsbury and Studley.


This contrasts with the very public and PR Spun Press Release of: Sixteen communities have come forward expressing an interest in running their own libraries and we are looking to see if those business cases can happen. They could have easily said, we have 6 out of 16 that are looking good - but WCC didn't (38% looks like a figure best left buried). What they did say was all Community Groups have an extension until Friday 19 August 2011.

The next section is 7 Impact on Employees. This one did make the news. The Preference Form (7.4), I have been unofficially told will be available from 23 July 2011. Page 32-33 give some very detailed 8 Financial, 9 Legal and 10 Property statements - I'm not even going to begin to dissect those (at this stage).

And finally, 12 Conclusion: the future (p 39). 12.10 states, Libraries will continue to be a brand people can trust - where did that statement come from, where does it fit in and what relevance does it have? In my view, it must be from some training course somewhere on public relations or customer service. What I do agree on is that times and therefore libraries must change and use technology (12.1/2).

Well that's it for this section. We've walked 13 metres (out of the 97m) which is 13% or page 43 of 326. No idea what I'm referring to, then - go back and read Part 01.

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