Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Suffolk Libraries Face New Crisis as Disinvestment Fails to Deliver.

with 5 comments

Ideal Happy Suffolk Library User.

In 2012 Suffolk LIbraries were taken away from public ownership (‘divested’) and direct control by elected councillors under a hard-right leadership of Suffolk County Council. They were given to an Industrial and Provident Society

Or as they put it,

In the first arrangement of its type in the UK, and after extensive consultation with the people of Suffolk, on Wednesday 1 August 2012, all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries and the mobile, school and prison library services were put under the direct control of the Suffolk’s Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent company registered as a charity.

Suffolk’s Libraries has a long-term contract with Suffolk County Council to ensure the service is delivered to an agreed specification and to work with local community groups to develop locally-focused services at each library.

The county council remains the statutory library authority, and monitors the performance of the library service through a framework that forms part of the contract.

The board of the IPS is currently appointed (that is, nominated, not elected) but will be elected by members of the IPS in late 2013.

These are the members who elected the Board  (essentially Friends of local libraries) and here is the Board.

As a member of the Ipswich Friends, who are on the list, I would be interested to know how this election took place – certainly it would be hard to recall being consulted, let alone presented with a ballot paper.

It would be possible to go further into  this arrangement, whose transparency has been unfavourably compared to the Kremlin’s under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.

Our concern is the future of the libraries.

It would seem that a number of problems have come to a head: Ipswich Library is opening late tomorrow, because a special ‘Staff Meeting’ is taking place.

It is known (I have seen a copy of the, non-public, minutes of the meeting) that part of the Library is to be transferred to a business ‘hub’ of some kind (as if Ipswich needs another one….).

Appropriately commerce will replace part of the Arts section.

In the meantime a large number of books from all over the Central Library are ‘disappearing’ and some books on the shelves are ‘not-recognised’ – about to be withdrawn for sale.

One loyal member of staff say that these volumes have gone to a better, happier, place.

Others, less favourable to management, suggest that the “disappeared” will never  be seen again.

The computer provision, which last year’s annual public report (a rare glimpse into the Provy’s workings) needs upgrading, is in a mess.

Some new terminals are available (though 2 have already broken down) with super, indeed excellent, service, exist (though their censorship filter blocks some left-wing sites).

Some of the old ones still function.

There is a shortage of free computers and great competition to use them – an essential activity for Jobseekers.

But near to them are the dead carcasses of extinct terminals, a sad reminder of former days.

We suspect a funding crisis is in the offing and “profit centres” are seen as the way out.

Note the word “suspect“, not “certain”.

It is said – from the Management – that “nothing has been decided yet” about the libraries’ future.

We have heard that one before: it is no doubt taught in many ‘dealing with a crisis’ master classes for managers.

5 Responses

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  1. I attended the Suffolk Libraries IPS AGM. New board members were elected and there was some concern by some of us about the lack of representation from Ipswich.

    Kevin Algar

    October 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

  2. So in other words, there was no properly canvassed election in Ipswich and no way for those unable to attend the meeting to vote, unlike, say for those who are members of the East of England Co-op (a properly registered industrial and provident society).

    No word on the disappearing books or the Business Hub?

    Andrew Coates

    October 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

  3. It was held in Kesgrave. Each friends group had one vote. There was 3 of us from the ipswich central friends group and 2 from the westbourne friends group and we all agreed that it was disappointing that there was nobody who could represent anywhere in Ipswich to vote for. Put your name forward yourself next time if you are that bothered and you don’t mind attending meetings in places like Haverhill. I shall look into your other concern.

    Kevin Algar

    October 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

  4. Very transparent.

    Not.

    And how am I to get to Haverhill?

    Mind you if they learnt the Tendance is coming perhaps they’ll hold meetings on Havergate Island.

    Andrew Coates

    October 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm


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