National Libraries Day in Kent – Will Our Councillors Support Libraries?

With National Libraries Day just around the corner, CLIK decided to send an email to all councillors in Kent requesting that they visit their local library to show their support for the library service in Kent. Our email stated the following:

Dear Councillor,

As you are no doubt aware, February 7th marks the date of the fifth National Libraries Day. The public library network in Kent is much valued and appreciated by people across the county, of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. It is a vital resource for many:

  • Supporting the development of literacy skills in our children.
  • Providing a place for those without an internet connection to get online.
  • For those unemployed and without an internet connection – a vital service that can help them get off benefits and into work.
  • Enables those without an internet connection to engage in council services and play a more active role in the democratic process, at all levels.
  • Provides a vital service for the housebound.
  • Ensures that thousands are not left behind as the government seeks to go “digital by default”.
  • Provides a neutral space to enable the freedom, prosperity and development of the individual.

We hope that you will help to highlight the importance of public libraries on this day by visiting your local branch and talking to both the people who work in our our libraries and the communities that use them. We hope that you will take this opportunity to highlight their importance via your local newspaper, demonstrating your support and belief in the county’s public libraries.

We would like you to make this commitment by putting your name to this document to say that you believe in the importance of our public library network and will be visiting your local library on the 7th February to demonstrate this commitment:

[doc URL]

You can find out more about National Libraries Day here:

http://www.nationallibrariesday.org.uk/

Many thanks for your commitment to libraries and to the freedom, prosperity and development that they offer the people of Kent.

Regards,

CLIK

We will post updates on signatures as they come in, but as yet we have not received a single email from a councillor pledging their support. (We’ve withheld the document URL as it is a publicly editable document and we do not wish to compromise its legitimacy by making it accessible to all.)

Why not drop your local councillor a line and ask them what they are doing for National Libraries Day? You can find your councillor’s contact details at this address:

https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

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Laughable “public consultation” to commence on Monday

After months of silence, it appears that a 12 week “public consultation” will be taking place starting next Monday (12th January). Of course, we fully expect this to be a fair consultation with absolutely no loaded questions and no attempt whatsoever to force people into accepting the council’s preferred option of charitable status. We have full confidence that the council will in no way suggest it is charitable status or closures or volunteers and expect that the council will also offer at the very least to maintain public libraries at their current level of funding. After all, as the report points out, Mike Hill has said that no firm decision has yet been taken.

Obviously, we must forget the fact that a job advert went up in June last year asking for candidates who can “ensure the implementation and delivery of a trust model for Kent Libraries, Registration and Archives” because, of course, that is simply a figment of our imaginations and will have no bearing whatsoever on the entirely fair process that Kent County Council is about to embark on.

We have full confidence that, unlike Lincolnshire County Council, the consultation will be entirely above board because, unlike Lincolnshire, Kent clearly haven’t already made their decision before launching the consultation. Apart from the fact an advert went out seeking to recruit someone to ensure a particular course of action. Apart from that, we see no reason to suggest that Kent have already made their decision with regards to libraries across the county or that this public consultation isn’t a complete sham. Absolutely not. Not a chance in hell.

Maybe.

Let’s see what the consultation document looks like next week. We won’t be holding our breaths.