Cut opening to Tues & Fri + use Open+ tech
After spending £890k on the new library, this option would mean only 2 days staffed opening per week, neither being a Saturday. Open+ tech means the library can open without staff, and only those with library cards aged 16+ can access. Concerns include:
• Safety: without staff, no one is overseeing the safety of users.
• Disadvantaging teenagers: under 16s can't access Open+ without an adult.
• Disadvantaging women: statistically women use the library less during Open+ because they don't feel safe.
Option 2: Outsource everything to a social enterprise
We don't know what cuts a social enterprise might make - Croydon council need to organise a webinar with a example social enterprise to show what their plans might be. Concerns include:
• Cuts in opening hours
• Combining libraries with leisure centres
• Cutting library staff
• Forcing library staff into zero hours contracts
Cut opening hours to Tues & Fri + community run it rest of time
The same concerns apply as option 1, but in addition we have no idea what community organisation they are suggesting run the library the remainder of the time. FOSNL does not agree with community-run libraries because it neither sustainable nor providing an adequate library service.
Question 2 & 3: what do you think of option 1?
• Reducing staffed hours by 50% & no staff on Saturday huge negative impact.
• Most vulnerable won't have professional staff to help them access info & services.
• Makes no sense to invest £890k in the building then only have optimal facilities two days per week. Terrible return on investment.
• Emerging from Covid the community needs library activities and resources.
• Open+ technology presents safety issues and discriminates against teenagers (who aren't allowed to use it) and the vulnerable (who are too scared to use it).
Question 4 & 5: what do you think of option 2?
• We don't have enough information to evaluate this option - we have no idea what a social enterprise would do to save money.
• Would a social enterprise:
a) reduce opening hours
b) cut jobs
c) force staff onto zero hours contracts
d) offer the same quality of service
e) make libraries an afterthought it leisure centres
Croydon council should organise a webinar before the end of the consultation for the most obvious candidate, GLL, to outline what they would do to Croydon library services if they took them over.
Question 6 & 7: what do you think of option 3?
This has all the negatives of option 1 plus:
• Volunteers cannot provide the quality of service our community needs due to a lack of impartiality, knowledge and training
• The transient nature of volunteers means that they take a lot of organisation for a much poorer return than professional staff.
• Areas of deprivation like South Norwood simply don't have wealthy individuals with the free time to volunteer.
Question 8: your suggestions for delivering the library service with reduced budget:
It is not possible nor acceptable for members of the public to be asked how they would cut vital services - these services should be kept.
• If a social enterprise can bid to run our library service saying they will deliver it using income generation, why can't our own outstanding and undervalued library staff be allowed the same option?
Question 9: do you expect positive or negative impacts on your local/wider community?
Reducing opening hours across Croydon be catastrophic. It might just look like a statistical drop in library usage, but the human impact will be new mums who can't integrate with the community to battle post partum depression, and teenagers who can't do homework after school and are instead on the street vulnerable to crime until parents are home from work. The tiny money saving will have a huge fiscal and community cost very quickly.