St James St Library Campaign

the mystery of the disappearing consultation!
June 30, 2008, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Those funny folk at the council are supposedly undertaking a consultation into the future of library provision in the st james st area.  Mysteriously, though, none of the campaigners or people we’ve asked so far, have received a consultation, even though Lorna Lee (head of Library Service) told us she sent them out to every resident within about a half mile radius of the library, about 2 weeks ago.

Have YOU received a survey? Please let us know if you have, or haven’t! (email

Please note – the st james st library campaign does NOT endorse this survey, and it is totally up to you whether you return it.  If you do return it,

The council refused to amend the survey to make it a genuine consultation exercise.  We have seen the final draft and it does not allow people to express their views about the closure of st james st, the impact that had had on their library usage, nor people’s views on the importance of a nearby library, a good range of books to borrow, childrens books and reference books, and the importance of well trained staff (there is a question about ‘customer friendly staff’ but that sounds to me like another way of saying staff that don’t have any library training, which the library managers seem to think is fine).  By asking if you would be ‘more likely to use a library if you could return books to a GP surgery’ etc, please note what they are really asking is if this is a suitable replacement for a library, so be very careful if you answer this question!!  Also when they ask what time you use a library, be aware that the council is keen to try and replace a full time library with a weekend only library.

Our own survey of over 300 local residents, showed these were the most important things to local residents, who also wanted the existing building re-opened as a library by a majority of over 9 to 1.

The council’s survey seems designed to allow them to ‘spin’ people’s views rather than genuinely reflect them. Therefore we’d encourage anyone who HAS received a survey, and who wishes to fill it in, to ignore the council’s tick boxes if they do not seem to reflect what you want to say about libraries, and to write in other answers on the form where appropriate.

Please please do let us know if you have received a survey – seems like there is something a bit fishy going on here!  We are meeting the council again on 9th July so we will be sure to get to the bottom of this as well as to press the case for re-opening of St James St Library.



June 7, 2008, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

To everyone who came today – great turnout, bout a 100 i reckon, great to see residents and the library workers standing side by side and standing up for libraries, including those who came in to talk to central library users (who were very supportive).  The only really strange comment was from the library manager who told me that it didn’t matter if sometimes the non-fiction and reference library had no staff working there at all….   anyway thanks again, check back here shortly for a fuller report.

see you tomorrow!
June 6, 2008, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hi all just a quick post to say hope to see you tomorrow – the weather forecast is dry with sunny spells, so fingers crossed! We will be there, rain or shine. Don’t forget to bring any placards you may feel like making, and books to swap if you like! Let’s try and get a big turn out to show the council the strength of feeling in the community about the way they’re attacking our libraries.

If you fancy a community day of it, there is a bike afternoon at the hornbeams centre on hoe street afterwards, which sounds fun too.

Rally 12 noon Saturday 7th June – protect our libraries
June 1, 2008, 3:52 pm
Filed under: campaigning, libraries, walthamstow

flyers and poster to print off and display in your window, car, local business, tree…! Hope to see you on Saturday!

(if you can’t print but want some flyers and posters, hopefully i’ll get this sorted tomorrow!. Please do take the time to read the post below if you would like more background).

We need your help NOW to defend libraries and librarians!
June 1, 2008, 10:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

After a year of campaigning the St James St Campaign has finally got the decision to close St James St referred back to Cabinet for review. This meeting is on TUESDAY 17th JUNE.

However, given what we have learned recently, the St James St Campaign is concerned that unless we make our feelings known very strongly to our councillors now, not only will they ignore us, but they’ll continue to threaten other libraries in the borough – and to victimise librarians (see below).

What is happening?

The library bosses and the councilor in charge have said they are ‘too busy’ to listen to us before the Cabinet meeting, despite the Scrutiny Committee telling them they should do this.

The council is refusing to discuss their plans for the building with residents or community groups, and spreading false rumours that it would cost a lot of money to re-open the library.

Council bosses are also threatening library staff who are trying to protect our libraries. Last week a library staff union rep was sent home without pay, for defending current levels of staffing – bosses want to open libraries with as few as 2 of the least experienced staff. Library staff across the borough walked out in protest, closing 6 libraries.

What do we want the council to do?

· Re-open St James St Library – the closure only saved £70,000, less than the council spent on training courses for councilors last year. A library provides education for thousands of people, not just for 60 councillors!

· Give a firm commitment not to close any of the other libraries in Waltham Forest.

· Take better care of the books that belong to us, the residents (250,000 books either went missing from Waltham Forest Libraries, were disposed of, or destroyed, between 2005 and 2007, according to the council’s own figures).

· Prioritise spending on the things that matter to residents – the SJSL Campaign carried out a detailed consultation of over 300 local residents which showed that people want libraries that are local, full of books, and run by experienced staff – not money wasted on fish tanks and expensive consultants! It also showed that people want the building to be a library or community centre – not council offices or sold off for housing.

· Launch a full independent enquiry into the mismanagement of library services

· Stop the victimization of library staff, and allow the suspended worker to return immediately.

What are we asking residents to do?

Contact your ward councilors (there are 3 in each ward) – via email, postal address, phone, or at their surgeries. Also contact Councillor Geraldine Reardon (Councillor for Libraries), the leader Clyde Loakes, and the other cabinet members.

Tell them about your experiences of libraries and ask them if they will back the demands listed above, and if not, why not?

Contact your local MPs, Neil Gerrard, Harry Cohen, or Ian Duncan Smith, and ask them to raise the issue with the council.

Contact Mimi Konigsberg, the Council Director responsible for libraries, and ask her what she is doing about this unacceptable situation.

And come to the rally on Saturday 7th June 12noon  Walthamstow Town Square – see most recent posts for more details.