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SALFORD COUNCIL TO AXE 25% OF JOBS IN MOVE TO UNSTAFFED LIBRARIES
 

Star date: 19th September 2017

SELF SERVICE LIBRARIES AND VOLUNTEERS IN 550,000 'SAVINGS' PROPOSALS 

Salford City Council has announced plans to cut one quarter of all jobs in a move towards unstaffed self-service libraries, to save almost 550,000. Clifton Library, for instance, will be open for longer hours but only three hours a week, out of 18, will be staffed. Volunteers will 'provide support'.

The Council is to bring in new Open+ technology in the move towards self service, with upgrades to existing IT equipment. A 'click and collect' service and self access computers will be available at seven new locations. Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, describes the move as "amazing and such a bonus for the people of Salford"...

Full details here...


Salford Libraries new opening hours
click image to enlarge

One quarter of all library staff, or 14.4 full time equivalent jobs, are to be axed as Salford Council looks to make cuts of 549,000 over four years to the service. The staff losses have been described as "collateral damage" in a councillors' consultation.

Rather than shutting libraries, which were two of the options considered, the Council is to move towards unstaffed, self service libraries, where users have swipe cards and codes for entry. It's a growing trend for councils around the country and, in Greater Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Bury and Tameside have already brought in the scheme.

The Council will spend 260,000 with company, Bibliotheca, on the Open Plus, or Open+, system, to be installed at 'neighbourhood' libraries in Boothstown, the Height, Irlam, Ordsall, Hope, Worsley, Cadishead, Little Hulton, Clifton, Lower Kersal and Winton.

At these locations, there will be longer opening hours but the number of staffed hours will, on average, be halved compared to the present service.

Boothstown Library will see its opening hours increase from the current 28 hours per week to 48 hours but only 15 hours will be staffed. Clifton Library will see its opening hours extended from 11 per week to 18 but will only be staffed for three hours. Little Hulton Library will see its opening hours extended from 40.5 to 57 but only 24 hours will be staffed.

Worsley Library will see just four hours staffed out of twenty; Cadishead Library will see 24 out of 57 hours staffed; Ordsall will see 15 hours staffed out of 43; the Height Library will see 24 staffed hours out of 57; Lower Kersal 24 out of 79 hours; Winton Library, 24 hours staffed out of 44; Irlam Library 24 hours out of 57 hours and Hope Library, just three hours staffed out of ten hours opening.

The Council report on libraries states that it wants to "Reach a point where there does not need to be 'library' staff present in the building at all opening times. Library staff would be present for specific activities e.g. storytime, reading groups etc. and possibly specific times (if required)"...

It will, instead, "install self issue machines for books, computer access and printing", use the 'Open Plus' access system and "Use volunteers/community to provide support".

While the report states that councillors have been "impressed" with a similar system in Trafford, the Open Plus system has been criticised by campaigners and researchers.

In most places that have installed the Open Plus system, young people under 16 years old can't access the service unless accompanied by an adult, while the Northern Voices blog cites a report from Tameside which notes that "older people may have difficulty using self-issue technology such as swipe cards" and "People with disabilities may also have difficulty with access".

The blog adds that "At some unstaffed libraries in Stockport, library users are already being warned that they use the library at their own risk."

In Barnet, the Save Barnet Libraries campaign carried out an experiment to see if Open Plus would work. Local paper, The Times, reported that campaigners "pretended to smoke cigarettes inside and put all the books to the floor to see whether their destruction would be caught...Two people also collapsed to the ground as though they were unwell and needed urgent medical assistance.

"But although there are CCTV cameras and a nearby security guard, nobody came to break the commotion up or check whether they were okay" the paper added.

It also quoted a member of the group saying "It is not safe in any way. It is almost like putting a target on the building. That is so dangerous. They may as well stock it with weapons and tell people where to hit the bullseye. People say they don't want to go there at night because it is creepy when nobody works there."

During the consultation in Salford for the new library regime, which will be operated by Salford Community Leisure, ward councillors asked questions like 'How do you work a system if someone wants particular information and no access to staff?'... 'What happens with potential loss of stock?'; and noted 'There are sensitivities around the staffing message ie being taken over by machines'... 'Consideration of security ie lone females using the building'

The Council report, which goes to Cabinet next week, states that "Community libraries are key in preventing social isolation and loneliness".

Meanwhile, there will be 'click and collect' for books and self access computers at new locations - Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Beesley Green Community Centre, The Valley Community Centre, Wardley Community Centre - and an 'exploration of suitable locations in Lower Broughton, Brookhouse and Langworthy Cornerstone'.

What Salford Council calls its 'main hubs' - Broughton Hub, Eccles Gateway, Pendleton Gateway, Swinton Gateway and Walkden Gateway will be unaffected, with the same opening hours...although the report to Cabinet notes that at "Eccles, Walkden and Pendleton there is the opportunity to reconfigure the existing library space to ensure a more efficient use of space and reflect the changing and more flexible usage by customers.

"This reconfiguration would result in staffing savings of 75k and also a saving for the City Council of 74k if the space would be utilised by health partners" it adds. During this year, the children's library at Walkden Gateway is to be moved into the main library.

In total the Council will be spending 490,000 over the next four years to bring in the new system and enhance current facilities. As well as the 260,000 for the Open+ system, 80,000 will be spent on e-books, 135,000 on refurbishment and 'refreshment provision', and 15,000 replacing the Books at Home vehicle. A further 100,000 has already been budgeted to upgrade IT and provide charging points for equipment...

Council figures show that by introducing these measures it will save 549,000 over the next four years (although it claims a 1.26million saving in its press release).

"Last year nationally over 350 libraries closed and over 300 more faced closure or were being transferred to communities to run them" says Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, putting a positive spin on the job cuts "To be able to announce the complete opposite of that expanding and upgrading library services is amazing and such a bonus for the people of Salford. We cannot put a price on the return this investment will generate in terms of supporting local people to learn, grow and achieve."

wrote
at 10:33:26 AM on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
The Political Butterfly has settled; but for how long? Based on his history, not for that long. MJF: on Sept 19. "I call on all voters in Claremont to vote for Mary Ferrer in protest at those Councillors that sit on the sideline watching our Salford fail."

Salford lad wrote
at 10:33:11 AM on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Dennets approach or pure Toryism. Deny thee working class learning and access to books so they won't have the knowledge to challenge and revolt! Who are this army of volunteers?! Taking the bread out of the mouths of comrades!

Patricia Lewin wrote
at 4:24:50 AM on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
This council is beyond words, I cannot believe the hair brained ideas that eminate from that building. The truth is labour have had things very easy in Salford for years. I just wish people would see things as they are and vote with their heads and not their hearts. It is time for a change.

Bob wrote
at 1:01:43 AM on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I didn't know the council were so strapped for cash, not with the way they splash it about on some of their barmy ideas they come up with from time to time, as often mentioned in this journal. Just had a super idea. It will save an awful amount of waste.Why don't we cut the number of councilors per ward from 3 to 1. that would save over half a million a year. none of them do anything, none of them know anything. we could have one set of elections at 3 year intervals, saving yet further cost. It would mean of course each councilor doing the work of three, but this should be easily attained. One person doing nothing is equal to three people doing nothing. (3 x 0 = 0). Simple maths.

Alice wrote
at 2:26:22 PM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Bring in technology to process the recording of uptake and return of books but don't remove the librarian. Librarians are not just supervisors. They are knowledgable trained people who can advise, recommend and initiate other services, such as reading sessions for preschoolers, IT sessions for those without knowledge and advisors about the latest book or the most suitable book to suit an interest. They are trained in cataloging and organising as well as being knowledgable about literature. If you remove the Librarian you remove the quality and atmosphere of the library. Don't let everything be determined by cost; there is more to life than money. Bury libraries seem to have an excellent approach.. Salford take a look at its ideas.

Michael James Felse wrote
at 10:41:39 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Silly Move - at a time when post Brexit our Salford will need skills we are reducing the Library services. I am appalled and forced to change again as a sensible butterfly to sting like a bee. I call on all voters in Claremont to vote for Mary Ferrer in protest at those Councillors that sit on the sideline watching our Salford fail.

Retired Socalist wrote
at 10:41:34 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Labour the party of the working class my arse, they sit knowing their safe because of the blatant apathy that is festering through this city. They feed cash like those poor creatures hooked on slot machines in the hope they pet project rugby clubs survive while we all know they are collapsing like houses built on sand. Where do they cut? libraries can you imagine no staff what a great new hang out for scum and needle lovers. And Mr Dennett thinks it's a great idea the man is lost in some socialist dream, I gave up on socialism and the looney left I hope others follow suit. If not will the last person out turn out the lights.

Bob wrote
at 10:40:46 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
living proof how dim these labour dimwits are.In what could have been a close contest, these clowns, with just one act of foolishness, have handed over Claremont to Salfords Iron Lady. There is only only one thing wrong with Mary Ferrer. There is only one of her. We need about a dozen good ones like her on the council. Go for them Mary, give them some stick, they need it. you're gonna win this one.

Brian Larsson wrote
at 9:35:38 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Its one thing to save money by hitting a soft target. Its an entirely different thing for Paul Dennett to insult the intelligence of Salfordians.... 'expanding and upgrading library services is amazing and such a bonus for the people of Salford.'?? Like many politicians, he must think that 'spinning the message' is sophisticated and clever. It is not. It is condescending and blatantly obvious.

Mary ferrer wrote
at 9:34:58 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
PS so the council are expecting people to go into a building with NO staff.Are they stark raving mad.Who in there right mind will go into a building with God knows how already in there I can see it now. This is Salford Labour run councils way of culling our libraries. Read yesterday about the new super dupper libraries they are going to open in parts of the city.Well what about our older residents.children.do they think parents will allow them to go into a unmanned building.I can see it now. The footfall has dropped so it's not viable close it. Just try it.

Mary ferrer wrote
at 9:34:48 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
All I can say is. If they try closing the Height library while I have breath in my body.They better be ready for one hell of a fight. We havery a lot of older people who live in claremont. If we go all high tech how will our older people who are not technically minded use the fercility. Then it will be not enough footfall. Then the axe. You try it Salford labour council. Just bloody try it

Bob wrote
at 9:34:12 AM on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
In Victorian times, the pioneer socialists and their philanthropic friends in people such as, for one example the Quakers, saw in libraries a means to educate the poor working class people as a means to help them out of poverty. Libraries do help in this manner. The Labour lot in charge of our council have no wish to help the poor working class people who vote for them, they wish to keep them poor and downtrodden and and badly educated, the more so the better, the more likely they are to vote Labour. It is easier to convince badly educated poor people that the blame for their poverty lies entirely at the hands of the Torys ,than to convince well educated ones. This Labour gang of dimwits simply have no interest in educating people. All they want is labour voters, voting Labour without question. My old grandad would turn in his grave.

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