St James St Library Campaign

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.


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