SCALP: Sheffield Communities Against Library Privatisation.
Only a first rate, professionally run and publicly funded library service is good enough for our city. SCALP are fighting Sheffield City Council’s plans to slash investment in library services by £1.6m by turning our library service over to volunteer groups, community groups and SMEs on threat of closure. By doing so they are giving library users a knife to cut their own throats.
For over one hundred years our city has had a proud record of running a modern and efficient public library system. From the Central Library on Surrey Street to the 27 local libraries and specialised services, our public library system is the antithesis of everything this Coalition government stands for. Our city enjoys free libraries which provide books alongside other collections and information services provided by qualified, experienced staff. Public libraries are a public service for everyone to use and enjoy; they are not governed by the market.
By law, every Council has to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service”; what’s Sheffield doing to abide by this duty?
· Threatening to close up to 14 libraries if other organisations don’t offer to start running them.
· Reducing the libraries budget by 25% in the next 12 months.
· Getting rid of another 32 posts this year.
· Running the service with zero hours bank staff.
· Carefully ‘editing’ the outcomes of the Library consultation last year.
Yet countries like South Korea and Japan are opening, not closing, libraries. Young people are using libraries more than in the past. If branch libraries close, most older people will cease to use any library.
6,000 Sheffielders participated in the Council’s library review earlier this year. What did it find? People value the service. They want new books and materials. They want local libraries which are open. And they want libraries run by trained staff. No surprise. It’s our job to make sure that what people really need and want is not sabotaged by the Council.
Sheffield’s libraries did not cause our economic and social crisis; Sheffield City Council should be fighting the obscene lie called ‘austerity’.
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