Dear Library Lover

It’s election time and we thought you might like to know what the local parties are saying about libraries. That libraries are mentioned on so many manifestos reflect the level of local concern. We hope that you will share the information below with your friends and neighbours.

Depending on the outcome of the election, we may be able to celebrate a return of at least some of the services we have lost under the Conservative Council - so please think about this when you cast your vote tomorrow.

We are pleased to see that some of the smaller parties support libraries, but in order to make your vote count, and to give us the best hope of restoring services and access for everyone, we ask you to consider voting tactically.  To do this you need to vote for the three candidates most likely to win who also support the restoration of services to libraries. Check out who got the votes in your ward last time. 

What the three biggest parties say:

Conservative party says:

There is no mention of libraries in the manifesto.

Labour Party says:

“Staffed opening hours in our libraries after school and on Saturday so children and young people can use them.”
Liberal Democrats say:

“Push to restore Library opening hours and full access for our young people.”
Contesting claims about libraries on the Conservative party website 
In putting together this mailing, we saw some misleading claims about libraries in a "fact checker" on the Conservative party website:

1)   “As of January 2018, 21,156 people have signed up for the service since it was introduced in April 2017. This represents 60% of active borrowers (those who have borrowed at least once in the last 12 months) so far”
Our response: The “last 12 months” must include the many months the libraries were closed as only this can explain the calculation that there were only 33,850 active borrowers out of the total of 187,165 library card holders in the borough! Check out the Barnet library statistics for 2016-17 here and demand the full 2017-18 stats be published now!
2)   “All children under 15 can access libraries during self-service hours provided they are accompanied by an adult. This is for security reasons, in order to protect the safety of the child, and was Council policy even before unstaffed hours were introduced.” (our emphasis)
Our response: It is simply a lie to say that Council policy did not allow children under 15 independent access before unstaffed hours were introduced. Our children know this from experience AND Barnet Conservative Councillors know too! This is what the Council told the Minister for Culture in September 2017 (in response to our complaint):

In staffed opening hours children and young people can attend the library without any restrictions, although we do request as part of our safeguarding policy that under eights are not unaccompanied.” (our emphasis)
3)   "There are many wild claims circulating about how much the changes to the library service have cost, with some alleging the Council is “spending £14 million to save £2.2 million”. This makes no sense and is of course untrue. The changes to the library service in fact cost about £7 million, which included repair and maintenance work to all 14 libraries and installing the self-service technology and CCTV. The money this investment will save will increase each year until it ‘plateaus’ at £2.2 million per year from 2020."
Our response: These claims have come from us and they are true! The Council’s budget procurement plan for 2016-17 AND 2017-18 shows £14m is allocated to library spend. We have not been told what it will be spent on, but the figure is there. Maybe it’s to cover unexpected costs -  like full-time security guards in all unstaffed libraries – not mentioned on the fact checker - and certainly not envisaged when the Council voted through the plans in April 2016. It makes a mockery of claims that the costs will be recouped by 2020. These cuts must surely be some of the most expensive cuts ever – in addition to their devastating impact on our libraries!

Make your vote count!

Thank you for your support.

Emily Burnham
On behalf of Save Barnet Libraries