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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Where is the New Brent Library Strategy?

Curious to see that Brent Council's Forward Plan still has no item on libraries.  The Libraries Transformation Project, which was effectively the Council's strategy from 2011 until now, has been completed with the opening of Willesden Library.  Officers should be given political direction on the long term future of the service so that they can plan service development, including whatever cuts councillors decide to make to the libraries budget.

The omission is curious, as the Budget included proposals to spin off libraries in some sort of undefined form.  Full scale privatisation would probably be politically controversial, and possibly technically difficult.  Certainly I think separating out the co-located libraries at Harlesden, Willesden and Wembley strikes me as a tricky issue.

The whole design of these three libraries is based on blurring the distinction between the library and the co-located service.  For example at Willesden Library, you have to go through the library to reach the Musuem, archives, one stop shop, art gallery and meeting rooms.  A new arms length arrangement goes in the opposite direction of trying to separate everything out again.

It reads to me as a line put in the budget by someone for financial reasons without really understanding how Brent Library services work. 

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