Chipping Barnet Library closure

Written by  Tuesday, 22 November 2016 18:29
Chipping Barnet Library Chipping Barnet Library
Barnet Council is being urged by the Barnet Society to postpone the two-month temporary closure of Chipping Barnet Library planned to take effect as from Monday 5 December in order to allow time for further consultation on the building alterations and redundancies that have been proposed.

The library is due to re-open in the week commencing Monday 6 February 2017.

As from next April, when self-service operation is introduced, the building will be unstaffed for much of the day.

The Society considers the time allowed by Barnet Council for consultation was grossly inadequate, and it is appealing to the council to hold another public meeting to explain its plans and to allow a longer period for comments.

Notices explaining the local arrangements and timing for self-service opening appeared on 29 October, with 4 November the cut-off date for comments before the council applied for planning permission for rebuilding and refurbishment work.

Only now has the local community begun to comprehend the full impact of leaving such a large, well-used building unstaffed for such lengthy periods, with the possibility of there being only volunteers in attendance on Mondays and Thursdays.

A public information session about the changes at Chipping Barnet was held on 26 October, but that was before there had been either a detailed explanation or full understanding of the implications of the changes that will follow the library’s re-designation as one of the borough’s six “core plus libraries”.

“Core plus libraries” will have the greatest number of staffed hours; offer an “extensive range of items for loan”; provide study pace; create a community space for hire; and offer “a wide range of reading and literary events for all”.

Our examination of the details announced so far raises so many issues, we think that until they are properly answered the closure should be delayed.

Chipping Barnet library announcementChipping Barnet library announcementAlthough there is already closed circuit television in operation in the library complex there is a lack of a reassurance about the level of safety cover when the library is unstaffed.  

One specific illustration of the dire lack of consultation – and an inadequate understanding of what was afoot – was the treatment of parents with children attending sessions in the library activity room for non-walking babies and toddlers.

They were informed by email on 15 November that the final sessions will be held on Tuesday 29 November and that this facility – which costs £4.95 per child – will no longer be available at Chipping Barnet.

At its last committee meeting (17.11.2016), the Barnet Society decided to do all it could to monitor the repercussions of the council’s plans for the Chipping Barnet library – part of a borough-wide re-organisation.

Unless the council is prepared to re-open the consultation process, and if it goes ahead with the closure plans, one option might be to ask residents to stage of protest read-in outside the library on 5 December to demonstrate the strength of local feelings.

During the two-month closure of the library – from 5 December to 6 February – there will be “general refurbishment of the library space”; the layout of shelving and location of PCs will be altered; a small community room will be provided on the ground floor; and the Hyde room will be converted into “letable space”.

Additional refurbishment work will be carried out between June and August next year.

The council says that from 1 April the number of staffed opening hours will be reduced.

Once self-serving has been implemented, eligible library card holders will be able to use the library during unstaffed opening hours seven days a week:

Monday: unstaffed from 7am to 10pm (with three volunteer supported self-service opening hours)

Tuesday: unstaffed from 7am to 9am; staffed from 9am to 12.30pm; unstaffed from 12.30pm to 10pm.

Wednesday: unstaffed from 7am to 2pm; staffed from 2pm to 8pm; unstaffed from 8pm to 10pm.

Thursday: unstaffed from 7am to 10pm (with three volunteer supported self-service opening hours).

Friday: unstaffed from 7am to 2pm; staffed from 2pm to 5pm; unstaffed from 5pm to 10pm.

Saturday: unstaffed from 7am to 9am; staffed from 9am to 5pm.

Sunday: unstaffed from 10am to 2pm; staffed from 2pm to 5pm.

During self-service hours, library users will be able to:

  • Borrow, renew and return stock using the self-service kiosks
  • Access Wifi, e-books and e-audio books
  • Read newspapers and periodicals
  • Place and collect reservations
  • Photo copy and print items
  • Use a PC to access online resources

Barnet Council says the redundancies – cutting permanent staff from 114 to 62 – and the introduction of self-service opening will contribute £2.2 million towards reducing the budget gap the council needs to find of £61.5 million between now and 2020.

It says the scope of the new library service was agreed in 2016 following “a detailed review of options and extensive consultation with residents”.

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21 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 22 November 2016 19:55 posted by Anna Ruth Yates

    Come on Barnet Council... what are you playing at? This is ridiculous..

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 22 November 2016 22:06 posted by J P

    This is really shocking.The library is an important and well used local resource. The library Is always busy and is at the heart of the local community. Who is going to feel safe in an unstaffed building? This council really are a disgrace and don't seem to care about the people they are meant to represent.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 23 November 2016 09:08 posted by Franca Perotti

    Well if people in Barnet keep voting conservative then like like this will keep happening

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 23 November 2016 09:09 posted by Jennifer Chapman

    Not sure why they need worry about a deficit the new camera at the top of the high street monitoring the yellow box must be making a fortune

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 23 November 2016 09:11 posted by Harri Feller

    No way this can't be happening!!!

  • Comment Link Thursday, 24 November 2016 12:58 posted by Hugh.Jordan

    Barnet UNISON and the Save Barnet Libraries Campaign have been fighting this for the last two years. The changes to to the Library service will cost over £7 million. Join the lobby of the Council meeting on the 6th December to make your opposition known

  • Comment Link Thursday, 24 November 2016 23:23 posted by Chris Rebbeck

    The people who make these decisions obviously do no use a library.
    People will feel unsafe in unmanned buildings especially early and late in the day, and call me cynical, but I suspect that the council will use this apparent 'lack of use' to justify closing the facility at a later date.

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 07:04 posted by Jenny Windsor

    I am absolutely appalled by Barnet Council's shortsighted and destructive plans for Chipping Barnet Library, which is an important hub for the community. The library needs to be a safe staffed place in order to be used by children and the elderly in safety. Furthermore, to rush these plans through so quickly speaks of a deep-seated contempt for the people of Barnet, whom the council are meant to serve.

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 08:52 posted by gkerr

    Shocking, awful, disgraceful decision. Only a matter of time before an ugly incident occurs. Single mothers will use it much less because they will feel uncomfortable. Please, LB Barnet, scrap this decision

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 10:26 posted by Debbie Kirby

    This is crazy! Barnet is growing, new homes are being built & now more people are living along the High Street above the shops, so the demand for library services will grow. I have valued the ability to take my grandchildren to activities put on in the Library. The gov. seems to be rejecting austerity maybe Barnet council should delay this to see if new money can be found?

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 10:39 posted by Gail Laser

    Shocking and why does the council plan to close the front entrance???
    Ridicuous idea

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 13:15 posted by Margaret Williams

    I was on holiday for the October consultation but had not been aware of any other consultations (even though I attend a class in the Hyde Room every Friday). It seems doubtful that the proposed public room will be large enough for an exercise class of around 20 people and it has not been possible to find an alternative at this time. Apart from this regular use, we also take the grandchildren into the library and they have been able to enjoy and appreciate the benefits of books and beginning to read. What will happen to the toilet facilities? How will photocopying facilities be overseen? Will there be space for students to study (quietly?) who are unable to do that at home? If we want a pleasant society in Barnet, surely we need to encourage attendance and appreciation of the library from the earliest possible age - so it needs to be easily accessible and welcoming to everyone!

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 18:08 posted by Jenny Arnold

    This is awful. My husband was told the library was closing for refurbishment! What a joke! I appeal to Barnet Council as a regular user of the library . Byng Rd book group also borrow book sets . Will this service be cut too?

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 November 2016 18:30 posted by Mark B Durchslag

    Hi Nick,

    The proposed (already approved?) changes to Barnet Library are much worse than those outlined on the website.

    TOILET FACILITIES They are to be closed when the library is open but staffed only by volunteers. Mon-Fri, toilets will be open 12.5 hours total. The Spires closes at 8pm; library is open until 10pm.

    SECURITY At no time will there be a security guard. When open with only volunteers on the premises, there will be increased thefts and vandalism. Drug addicts and drunks drinking in the library have occasionally been banned. What now? Is a young trainee supposed to take them on? We have been told that additional CCTV cameras will be installed.
    They will be monitored in Wales; I am not being funny. We are told that you need a library card to enter the premises. All it takes if for one person to use a valid card to trigger a beam and half a dozen 'illegals' can walk in with their sleeping bags and carrier bags of alcohol.

    MASSIVE SAVINGS TO THE COUNCIL IS A MYTH
    Richard Cornelius states that marvellous cost cutting 'improvements' will save the Council more than £2 million a year and will help Barnet Council toward saving some £67 million. Rubbish! How much is Capita invoicing for the work its fee?

    MUCH MORE THAN A LIBRARY
    Barnet Library is (was?) one of the two largest libraries in London's second largest borough. This proposed action is disgrace and the Council deserves to be thrown out at the next election. I say this as a 42-year resident of Barnet, whose family has always voted Conservative. It would appear that we never will again.

    Barnet Library is true community centre. Books, research facilities, CDs, computers, photocopiers, scanners (only one) of course play a major and significant role. But there is a book club, a knitting club, rhyme and singing time for toddlers, a choir. And more. The library is a meeting place for the retired and unemployed, moms with babies and young children. And of course, the library is a must for student study areas; students really do use Barnet Library as more than a place to hang out with friends.

    As Ray Bradbury elegantly wrote. Without libraries, what have we? We have no past and no future."

  • Comment Link Sunday, 27 November 2016 09:55 posted by C Herrmann

    This is a stupidly destructive proposal. Why turn a purpose-built library into a shambles? Why deprive residents of a well-used service which their council tax is supposed to entitle them to receive? and why throw well-trained dedicated staff on to the dole? It would appear that we are going to rapidly lose our excellent libraries to the developers in a few years time because unstaffed, insecure libraries will be speedily vandalised, stripped of anything sellable and become no-go areas. Do we really want this to happen in our borough?

  • Comment Link Monday, 28 November 2016 14:34 posted by Marnie

    Yes, they consulted with residents and from what I remember hardly anyone supported Barnet's proposals but the Council didn't listen to us and went ahead anyway!

  • Comment Link Monday, 28 November 2016 15:25 posted by oliver Swords-Shannon

    The Libraries are a vital part of our children's upbringing which is one of the reasons I am happy to pay my rates.
    They are also a centre point for community activities.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 29 November 2016 22:05 posted by Bernard and Katherine Johnson

    The proposals are dreadfully short-sighted - the community needs the libraries! As many people have pointed out, the premises will not feel secure. Students will not be able to study in a safe quiet environment. Our little grandchildren love the library - obviously, many other children do as well; paring down the facilities won't help to encourage a love of books! The collections cannot possibly be as well organised without professional expertise - and there won't be people to help with any problems. This must be one of the worst decisions the Council has made - we all hope that they will reconsider.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 30 November 2016 08:53 posted by Seema

    This is awful news. The library and services provided are important for the local community.

    As someone who uses the library on a weekly basis I am also shocked by the lack of consultation and information available about the changes. If they make the library un-staffed I know that I would feel unsafe going into the library.

    Barnet council are very short sighted to be making these changes to such a well used library.

  • Comment Link Monday, 05 December 2016 15:26 posted by Hazel Conway

    Barnet Library is a community resource which is used by many different groups of people on a regular basis and we must not allow it to be run down. We have a philistine council which seems determined to ride rough-shod over the residents who have not been given enough time to comment on these proposals; it is shocking that they think they are able to get away with these changes. Apart from depriving us of our library Barnet council is putting librarians out of work. They must be stopped.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 06 December 2016 14:51 posted by Gavin Conway

    This is a disgraceful, underhand removal of a valuable community resource. The 'consultation' process has been deliberately conducted under the radar. A saving of £2m? That's a drop in the ocean compared to what Capita are taking in consultancy fees. Pure disgrace. All you Barnet Tory voters I hope you're satisfied.

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