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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Brent Libraries Leading the Way

Chris Bryant has publicized the grim numbers for library use in England and Wales.  There are 282 million visits in 1013-14, compared to 322 million four years before.  It is ironic that the article is illustrated with a picture of the former Kensal Rise Library, as Brent is bucking the national trend with both its visit and loan numbers going up.  The Brent Libraries Transformation Project is a model of good practice, not least in its emphasis on "Free public wifi access with improved speeds and more plug sockets" at every library as the Sieghart Review has recommended. 

I hear rumours that Brent is rolling back from suggestions of privatisation.  I was never quite sure what was meant by privatisation anyway, and I am not sure that anyone in Brent Council was either.  It makes me wonder about the planned restructuring of library management.  This envisaged combining the Sports, Parks and Cemeteries post with the Library Arts & Heritage post in a big management role focused on commissioning.  If library privatisation does not go ahead, this would mean that post would spend a lot of time clienting contractors in sports centres, grounds maintenance and so on, but also run a directly employed library service.  I suspect that demands two quite different sets of skills, as well as coping with a big workload as the new Willesden Green Library Centre opens. 

Perhaps this has not been fully thought through?

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