Here are the minutes from Saturdays meeting, with thanks to Kerry for typing them.
Feel free to circulate and please reply with any further comments / questions.
Date of next meeting: 11th March, 10.30am, Stirchley Community Church
Meeting called by Save Stirchley Library
Sign in sheet. 40 people (few late comers not sure if they signed in)
Cllr Ian Ward / Cllr Mary Locke
Notes by Kerry – please email me if you have any corrections firstname.lastname@example.org
Theresa – thanks everyone to coming. Minutes have been circulated, if anyone has any comments to let us know. We have a woolly proposal to take things forward, we need to start planning for the next 12 months, and then think beyond that. Myself, Laura and Sandra met with Liz Parkes, we had a good chat and she talked about the report for the recommendation for the council and the suggestion is the building will stay open for 12 months, there is the worry after the 12 months, we are concerned about the maintenance repairs cost and if the council will pay. She was supportive of our suggestion to set up a Friends of Stirchley Library group. Nothing is set in stone. We can’t do it without the support of the community. Assuming that we want to keep the library open in the library building, not Stirchley Baths
Ian Ward –deputy leader of Birmingham City Council. Responsible for operating model of library services. Happy to be here today – before what is agreed on Tuesday at cabinet.
Theresa – gave a quick overview to Ian. We haven’t met formally with library staff but have met informally, we aren’t sure what we can / can’t do.
Ian – there’s a report heading to cabinet on Tuesday, you can all get access to it, BCC went out to consultation which would have seen 2 of those close, I was always determined we would tweak those – pleased to be able to do that. Only 1 of the community libraries that will close going forward, Kent Moat in Stetchford – it was going to be closed anyway as part of a housing development. Those resources will move to Glebe Farm. Glebe Farm will move up from a 4 to a 2/3 (same as Stirchley) – for 21 hours a week. 36 of 37 libraries will remain open. Community libraries will be open less hours than they currently are. There is the hope community groups and third sector organisations will help libraries and play a role going forward. We hope that impetus will continue, and we will see the opportunity to enhance opening hours, into the future. There will be a BCC meeting in the future to discuss libraries in the future. A lot of other pressures in the council: social services, elderly services / strain to system nationally. Resources being moved into those services because of the crisis. Across country many libraries are closing so we are pleased with the outcome of the Birmingham proposals. From the budget proposals – 28th Feb. £37m additional has been put into social care because of those pressures. 2 things haven’t changed – still going to increase the book fund (more books / resources available) another £50k for repairs, still going to invest £800k in self service technology. Things that have changed: introducing a charge to book reservations, have found a way of mitigating that – suspended charge, trying to make a letting arrangement in Sutton Coldfield. Subject of most feedback has changed: Sutton Coldfield, they have been lobbying hard against the closure of Sutton Coldfield Library. STC committed to funds to keep their library open – at least until August. They are trying to let other space within the building. Tentatively agreed, if you can let this space, will put in fee of Tier 1 library and town council will have to pay the gap. If town council can’t find the gap then unfortunately the library will close. Another change - Aston Library will remain open as a tier 3 site. Now – Stirchley! Proposals was to move services into former Baths. Now proposing to keep Stirchley Library open, and to utilise the services of the Baths for additional IT support.
Theresa – can we ask you about the new tier 2/3? Hours reduced from 25 hours to 21.
Ian – We need to work with the community here to make that sustainable for the future. The ‘Friends’ proposition is helpful. Has to deliver what a Tier 2 would, but less hours – involvement with community. Definitely 21 hours with Library staff, and to make that sustainable going forward support f rom ‘Friends of Library’ group.
Theresa – by us stepping in, are we putting library staff jobs at risk?
Ian – not at all, through the changes we can sustain 99 full time jobs – have saved 11. The friends group will not mean any of those lose their jobs.
Theresa – can we ask you specific questions.
Ian – yes if I can answer them.
Martin Sullivan – FoLoB – Stirchley Library / Baths is a strange proposal, we find the proposal worrying. Tier 3 is moving out of the public sector as relying on others – Tier 2 is more sustainable. If raising funds for maintenance need a say on how this is spent – if you raise funds, the repairs work put out to tender (acivico). Need to watch on this – if Tier 3 / 4 volunteers fail – it will fold. What is the gap in funds for a Tier 1.
Ian - The cost to continue operating Sutton Coldfield £135,000 a year gap funding the town council will need to come up with. If we keep that library open then the funds from other libraries is taken. The process is being looked at to ensure acivico costs are competitive. Perhaps cost weighting should have had a higher factor in the consultation. 2 libraries had an equal scoring – top of tier 3 stirchley library, which has led to the new creation of the tier 2/3. Keeps hours to 21 hours. Some of the work volunteers will be doing in stirchley library would have previously been done by stirchley staff, which is inevitable. We are not expecting volunteers to do everything. Not an advocate of jobs being replaced by volunteers, that doesn’t work and isn’t sustainable. It’s not a model for the future working 5 days a week and then volunteering every Saturday. If some people are willing to do a couple of hours, stack shelves / take books back, it serves to keep library open then it is a compromise willing to make. In order to sustain 21 hours, volunteers will need to do some of those tasks.
Question – human touch needed / real staff. Verbal conversation valued when taking books back.
Ian – agreed, libraries more than issuing books, access to knowledge and learning. Engaging with people coming into the building, what they are in the library to do, helping people navigate the services and the internet, not everyone is internet savvy.
Sandra – volunteering aspect. What arrangements are being made to manage the volunteers. Library staff may not be able to do this properly.
Ian – we are going to have to training library staff. There are already friends of libraries groups
Sandra- they aren’t doing what you’re suggesting
Ian- you may have read a number of libraries will be doing benefits forms, etc – going forward library staff becoming multi skilled and taking on some of these roles themselves. Even now library staff aren’t doing what they would have done many years ago, services have changed. It’s still information sharing
Sandra – nothing for training of library staff in the consultation
Ian – training of staff for new roles needed – something for me to take away. Next point - there is an issue here with maintenance. Friend’s role can help in a way to fundraise / bridge funding gap.
Jessie – if community raised funds need guarantee it will stay open.
Ian – Council will work with any friends group to make this happen.
Theresa – new boiler / roof repairs need carrying out. There are two spaces that could be fixed and then rented out for generating ongoing income.
Tony – Friends of Cannon Hill Park - sustainability question. The library is valued by the Stirchley community. Tony has friends in library services nervous about their jobs. Roof space, is a health and safety hazard New library of Birmingham – Ian quoted George Dawson as a Birmingham civic activist, our histories are all contained within our libraries. Reference, people who go into library to find out about information / opportunities. That can be carried on – things that have leaked into the Baths, within main library of Birmingham are 10 booths set up by British Film archive. Digital archive / digital age – continued access of those. BFI license. Opportunities are immense.
Theresa – at some point we will be asking for ideas
Mary – anything as a friends group I will be there to support it. Not just because councillor for the area. Social care mentioned – promote library services out of home. For people with dementia.
Amy – Sum of £50k council have put on top – what’s that going to be used for?
Ian - £150k is the cost of the boiler repairs <correction to this in editing of minutes – clarification, this figure is what is in the repairs and maintenance budget, we need to work out the cost of boiler etc. >There are funds available for repairs and maintenance. Will get back to you with the detail. Back to previous comments - as result of the process,Aiming for a city wide library service. Second thing, designate a senior city councillor as city chief of libraries. so that libraries have a voice. Not going to close Stirchley Library. Room full of people in support of Stirchley Library here as we can see. Two things that upset people the most is library closures and park closures. Not paying lip services. Reacted to the consultation. Important to be saying something different to what we set out to do. Great example here in the community of change – Stirchley Baths. Building refurbished and saved. That is what can happen if community can get together. Finish on George Dawson comment – went to a meeting to talk about libraries, chap from Birmingham University who spoke about George Dawson, sat there learning and listening, he’s responsible for creating library services in Birmingham - for a library service to work it has to be free. Book charge steps over that line. Any book in the collection should be free without a fee, so particularly pleased we have managed to remove that proposition in the consultation. Euan (name?)– is going to make a project about George Dawson for library services in Birmingham. Can learn about George Dawson and Shakespeare.
Bob – FoLoB- how secure / reliable is the proposal. Whole of council being reelected next year. Speculating – this is a stop gap.We could be here again in 12 months time?
Ian – Good question. Intention is to reduce funding going forward. In business rates pilot – move to a system from 1st April, BCC receives all rates from 1st in future. Won’t get any gov grant. Guarantee it won’t make city council worse of than it would have been. Increasing pressure going forward on all services. No plans to further reduce budget for library services. But in the Autumn Budget 2018 – may be looking very hard at these subjects again. If it was in my gift I would say no further cuts.
Comment – worried about volunteers stacking shelves / staff to be multi skilled / running benefits services/ repairs and fundraising, council did pay for KH asbestos being removed. Stirchley Library needs new roof and also needs to be warm. Supportive of Children’s library. Encouraged, don’t want to see us back here in a year or two years. Don’t want to say ‘gave you an opportunity – and you failed’ real effort on part of city council to make this viable. Includes funding staffing training recruiting and managing of volunteers.
Ian - benefits services only in 4 libraries. What I do know is there have been budget reductions every year since 2010. Not sure when that will end. Council forecast will be reducing by £760m by 2020/21. In a corner when having to deal with budget reductions of that scale. Want to keep as many libraries open as we can. Increasingly having to work with volunteers and third sector organisations; working with the Baths as part of Tier 2/3.
Comment – aware Baths will be involved. It is about income generation. Library is free public service, need opportunity to fundraise to keep that open. Don’t want to be told ‘the baths are doing that so you can’t’.
Ian – There was a comment at the consultation at the Baths (by Jessie) that there’s no space for books in the Baths. Not reasonable to ask residents to raise the whole sum.
Jessie – 12 months isn’t long if we want to get repairs. What’s at the end of the 12 months?
Ian - If we can get the right friends group, have staffing, work together, unless something catastrophic happens, I personally will come back to you to find out what the city council needs to do. Small sums in comparison.
Mary – Are there funding pots that can be applied to?
Ian – yes there are.
Jessie – with it being to fix a council building – we can’t apply for some pots of funding.
Ian – yes some funds you won’t be able to apply for which is perverse in my personal opinion.
Laura – Why IT support extra in the Baths – should be in the library.
Ian – if they did that, duplicates
Jessie – if put things on at the Baths, people will go but they would have gone into the library
Ian – some services move into Baths will free up library staff. Better off speaking to Liz about this about how that will operate.
Comment – bogged down in details. Let’s us get on and move!
Jessie – help to set up the friends greatly appreciated
Theresa – have never had a Friends of Stirchley library. Will take awhile to get established and find out feet. Liz Parkes will have her ideas, we have our own, we need to make sure they align. We are going to meet up after the council meeting next week. If everyone is happy, we have started to put together a survey to ask what your own ideas are for the friends group / volunteering / any support you are able to give; time or financial, between us we might have a really good balance. Diverse group. Reiterate we want to work with Stirchley Baths; we don’t want to be exclusive, we want to be inclusive and work with the whole of the community. In the first instance we are deciding who we are and what we are doing – maybe monthly meetings.
Show of hands – monthly meetings – most raised.
Liz Clements – maybe Folob could help set it up, with constitutions. Meet with other fol groups. Library activities in the library. Complementary services.
Bob – Folibrariesofb – lots of contacts, Sutton west heath, Glebe, concerned about services as a whole. Meeting on Monday 5.30pm libraries as a whole. Mclaren bulding 19th floor, Dale End, Priory Queensway.
Mary – Thanks Ian for coming along. Lots of questions. Sometimes not answers because you don’t have the information. Could you please give commitment to come back in six months, finding answers to those questions in the near future? An opportunity if we are going into difficulty will you help?
Ian – Bournville Community Hub have offered to do library services – additional library outlet. If we get this right we ought to have a solution here.
Comments – not quite sure what the Bournville Community Hub are proposing
- action – get in touch with Sarah at BCH
Theresa – can I email specific questions about costs.
Ian – any questions at all please email those.
Amy – we don’t have experience of that but this relationship with the council is key. We need to clarify how we are going to work with the council and the mutual expectations.
Ian – Liz will be your key contact. Knows where we are going with this – has been on visits across the country on how this model works elsewhere. I will come along to make sure it works.
Theresa – thanks for coming Ian, we feel reassured
Tony - Place Prospectors tomorrow in Stirchley Park – info on twitter, hopefully not rained off.
Next meeting is booked for 11th March. Saturday morning 10.30am.
Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum is Mon 13th Feb 7.30 Stirchley Comm. Church.
Friends of L of Bham mt as above, Mon 13th 5.30 mcLaren building 19th floor.
Monday 5.30pm libraries as a whole. Mclaren building 19th floor, Dale End, Priory Queensway.