Its obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time in a library in recent years that the building is not merely a storage space for books. For some, its sanctuary, others an invaluable tool but most go with the intention of seeing a friendly human face that can help then with whatever problem they may have. Only those who are wealthy enough and self-serving enough could detach themselves from passions and needs of these people for unnecessary and short-term gain.
Those who will be most negatively affected by the closure of St. James' Library live in and around the Old Pye Estate, particularly the elderly who have mobility issues. Also the local schools will have to seek alternative support, in 2009/10 there were 166 class and nursery visits with staff attending schools and nurseries on 69 occasions. On top of this, a high proportion of students from Westminster City School are key library users who will certainly feel the effects of the closure.
"We had Dean in again today. He's a young man with cerebral palsy. Mark, our manager, does all he can to help Dean. He helps Dean out with daily essentials and attempts to find him care and housing help. Dean can be quite demanding.
We had some more shouters in this week. Customers who, for one reason or another, take against the staff and other customers and become noisy and disruptive. We've had to ask some to leave. Others have brought in all their worldly goods. Others have been so unhygienic as to attract complaints from other customers. We've asked them to leave, clean up, find somewhere for their luggage, then they're welcome to return.
We've had people in who've obviously been mentally unwell, who have asked for help. For things both relevant and irrelevant. And they've been helped. Provided with information. Advice where possible. And then gone on their way."
"We've had customers who we've suspected of being drunk, or high. We've dealt with them. Humoured them, mostly. Seen that they've got everything they needed.
Most of the customers have been great. As usual. friendly, engaged, interested, talkative. We've spoken to them about their reading habits, about their library use and any concerns, general chit-chat and small talk and some, who have forged friendships with the staff, have stayed and talked a little longer.
Some customers, without the debility of mental illness or addiction, can prove a handful nonetheless. These customers are recognised and persevered with. All staff know the signs and spot the recidivists. We attempt to engage with them. We attempt to make their visits fruitful and enjoyable. We pursue their complaints. Log their requests. Apologise for their dissatisfaction.
Soon, at St James's we won't be doing that any more. I think we'll be missed. By all sorts."
"We have quite a few peers in. The occasional MP. We service the House of Commons library. Lots of lobbyists. Members of the Royal Household. Scotland Yard. We get quite a few soldiers on their way to and from war-zones. We get their wives in with their kids. We get office workers, bureaucrats, shop assistants, traffic wardens, street sweepers, caterers, barristers, flight attendants, pensioners, bankers, directors, schoolkids, carers... American, Poles, Italians, Japanese, French, Russians, Somalis, Irish, Ethiopians, Spanish...
Unfortunately this post is quite a large one but it will be more than worth the space.
On the 2nd March 2011 Marylebone Library closed early at 6pm on the advice of the security team and police blockage who were there to protect councillors who were to attend the cabinet meeting in the same building from the angry mob of mothers and toddlers who waited outside in the cold.
During the meeting one of the labour minority suggested that all staff earning over £100,000 should take a pay-cut of 5% if only to show that the distribution of austerity measures were not completely targeting the poor. He was promptly dismissed by one of the Conservative councillors who claimed that the £3M saving that this would generate was not worth bothering with, the irony being that Library assistants working Sundays will be expected to take a reduction in wages to save £40k.
The Old Marylebone Town Hall and Marylebone Library, which is currently up for sale, was host to a cabinet of conservative councillors who denied making cuts to services in areas where staff had received letters that they were vulnerable to redundancy.
Consistently the Labour party was blamed for the GLOBAL BANKING CRISIS (although it was accepted that the banks were partially to blame) despite, WCC officers investing £17.5M into Icelandic banks when most knew it was a bad idea, £4M on temp staff one of whom has earned £745 per day for the last 6 years and with two senior officers earning more than the Prime Minister and 25 earning over £100,000 plus health plans, plus bonuses, plus car and accommodation allowance.
The Director for Libraries, David Ruse is announced to be earning £103,689in 2009/2010, plus private health insurance of £2,368 and car allowance of £2,808 and with the a bonus of £35,000 and further entitlement for an annual increase in salary. The document below gives details of earning for the council's senior officers, please follow the link below.
At 6.30pm on Wednesday 2nd February, Marylebone Library and Information Services will close early due to 'unforseen circumstances'.
The unforseen circumstance in question happens to be the monthly cabinet meeting where long standing conservative councillors for Westminster decide how best to spend the tax payer's money and on what services.
On the 21st February 2011, the councillors met on the 17th Floor of the City Hall to approve the proposed cuts to services and deflect attention away from their own culpability and those of the bankers in causing the financial situation we're now in.
In another bid to convince the cabinet that spending cuts which disproportionately and adversely affect the poor and the vulnarable are not an inevitability and that other options should be considered. Especially since...
“We are taking council spending back to the level generally in terms of grants, that it was in 2007. I see no reason at all why they should not continue with the very well funded network of libraries.”
David Cameron 9/2/11
We are therefore urging everyone to join our lobby of the Cabinet on Wednesday the 2nd March 2011 at 6pm outside Marylebone's Council House building, 109-117 Marylebone road, London NW1 5PS, so that Councillors are made aware of the strong feelings against these closures.