Friday, 26 July 2013

Birkdale Library -packed meeting discusses next move

An excellent public meeting of the BLAG Library Campaign Group took place at St Johns Church Hall on Thursday night, attended by 100 concerned residents. I will be reporting more fully later, but in the meantime I thought it would be useful to share some analysis that my Birkdale Ward colleague Simon Shaw prepared and shared with the meeting.

Simon was concerned about how many books would be actually available on display to borrow under the Sefton CVS Consortium proposal to take over our Libary Building. Last Monday he went along to Birkdale Library, effectively to do some measuring up, and these are his conclusions:

Birkdale Library Sefton CVS Proposal - An Assessment

In their bid document Sefton CVS says the following (page 6):

The plan (Appendix 1) incorporates floor space of 131.1 sq m for public service delivery. This area could provide a service for the loaning of books utilising the current systems and equipment, however this will need to be discussed and agreed with Sefton MBC.

Based on the Sefton Libraries Review 2012, the Birkdale library holds a stock of 35,126 books. The new proposal would be unable to house the current level of library stock and transform the building to become a community resource.

From analysis of the current lending information statistics 2011/12, it appears that 20% of the total stock is regularly loaned. Therefore, it is proposed a stock of 7,000 books could deliver a credible loaning scheme, within the available public floor space of approximately 131 sqm.

The loaning service would aim to be open and operational from 9.30am to 4.30pm, 4 days per week with a review to increase the opening time in 6 months post launch. To support this new approach volunteer support would be required by a cohort of 20 to 30 volunteers acting in community liaison capacity.

Although the loss of 80% of the book stock (ie down from 35,126 to 7,000) would be bad enough, further clarification obtained from Sefton CVS suggests that their proposal is even worse. The Sefton CVS proposal is that the reduced book stock would be located on just four outside wall panels (ie the brick-built angled fins between the side windows).

The current shelving against the outside wall panels comprises a triple unit five shelves high. Adding a sixth shelf would not be feasible. On average each shelf holds 35 books. This means that each single unit holds approximately 35 X 5 = 175 books, i.e. each outside wall panel (containing a triple wall unit) contains approx. 525 books.

Thus the four outside wall panels could hold just 2,100 books – a lot less than the already much reduced proposed stock of just 7,000 books. It may be that Sefton CVS envisage that approx 75% of the much reduced book stock would be out on loan at any one time. However the standard by which most people judge a library is how many books are available on view to borrow or to reference.

A count of the current library stock on the shelves shows that there are currently approx 100 “single unit equivalents” each containing approx 175 books, i.e. approx. 17,500 books on the shelves in total. On this measure the present Sefton CVS proposal would represent 2,100 / 17,500 = 12% of the current available to loan stock.

In addition to this there is no apparent provision for DVDs, CDs, Talking Books or childrens' library etc.

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