Update: Questions to the County Council

Thank you for the numerous positive responses that we've already had (and we've not even been online for a week...).

We have asked the County Council some specific questions about the proposals that they have already published on the future of Oxfordshire libraries. The proposals are here.  Our questions are below.  (These have gone to Mr John Jackson, the senior official responsible for libraries, Councillor Kenneth Mitchell, the Leader of the Council, and Councillor Judith Heathcoat, the Council Cabinet member responsible for libraries.)

We'll let you know when we have a response to the questions.  In the meantime, please carry on making your own representations (see how here), and spreading the word to your friends and neighbours and colleagues.

Initial questions on proposals for the future of Oxfordshire libraries
 [These are rather dry and technical, they're meant to supplement the wonderful inspiring stuff about the library that people have been writing already.]

1) The proposals refer to financial considerations up to the year 2015.  (a) Have you considered library use beyond that date?  (b) Are you making permanent strategic proposals about the library service based on no more than four years' forward planning?

2) What would be the financial saving to the County Council of closing Summertown Library?

3) The proposals do not include any suggestions about reducing library expenditure other than closing libraries.  What was the rationale for not proposing other measures to reduce library expenditure (such as, for instance, reducing opening hours)?

4) The proposals suggest extended electronic library services.  How will this benefit people who do not have access to the internet at home, including those who currently rely on Summertown Library for internet access?

5) Public transport link were a factor in formulating the proposals. (a) What public transport figures have been used?  (b) Is this based on current provision of public transport, or does it include potential public transport provision in the future?

6)  (a) What usage figures have been used in formulating the proposals?  (b) What are the usage figures for Summertow Library?  (c) How can these usage figures be made available to users of Summertown Library?

7) What was the rationale behind the welcome proposal to keep open Cowley Library, in contrast to the other suburban Oxford city libraries?

8) The Oxford Mail reports that the proposals are intended to save £2million over the four years 2011 to 2015.  Is this correct? 

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing...

Oxfordshire County Council says that it needs to save £155million over the four years 2011-2015.  The proposal to close 20 libraries will save £2million over those four years -- this will meet less than 2% of the county's target, but it will permanently deprive tens of thousands of Oxfordshire's residents from library access: not just for four years, but for generations.

Details here.

Why is Summertown Library valuable?

Summertown Library serves thousands of households in Cutteslowe, Wolvercote, Summertown and north  Oxford.  Closing the library would remove a vital cultural and intellectual resource, and also a social facility which provides opportunites for people to use the internet, read the newspapers and find out about community groups.  For many people it is their main non-commercial connection to the area where they live.

This cut is very different to reducing spending on something for a temporary period - not so much tightening the County Council's belt as snapping it in half and throwing it away.  It is claimed that people in the area served by Summertown Library have easy access to Central Library, but this isn't the case, especially for older people and families with young children.

Why do you think Summertown Library is valuable?

What can I do?

1) Write

In the first instance, you can contact the following to express your views about the library.  A letter has more impact than an email, but an email is better than nothing!  (In any case, it will be helpful if you can copy your email/letter to this address: savesummertownlibrary@gmail.com).

At the County Council:

John Jackson, Director for Social and Community Services
Social and Community Services,
County Hall,
New Road,
Oxford, OX1 1ND
Email: john.jackson@oxfordshire.gov.uk

The local MP:

Nicola Blackwood MP
House of Commons,
SW1a 0AA
Email: nicola.blackwood.mp@parliament.uk

The local county councillors (they are supportive of the library, but the more communication they receive, the stronger the case they can make to the council):

Councillor Jean Fooks: jean.fooks@oxfordshirelibdems.org.uk

Councillor John Goddard: cllrjgoddard@oxford.gov.uk

2) Sign the petition...

A paper copy of a petition in support of the library is available to sign at the NOA Community Centre (part of the Ferry Centre, location here).  If you'd like your own copy to print out and ask your friends and neighbours to sign, please email savesummertownlibrary@gmail.com.  (We'll try and work out a way to put it up on the website, too...). 

3) Read...

Continue to use the library, borrow books, show how valued it is (and tell your friends, too...)

4) Think...

Forward this link to your friends and neighbours!

If you're interested in being in touch with others who want to save Summertown Library, email 
What else does the campaign need?  Email, and/or post your ideas here...

Testing, testing...

This is in the nature of a test...

Summertown Library is under threat of closure by Oxfordshire County Council.  See details on the BBC website and this Oxford Mail article.

This will deprive thousands of people in Summertown, Wolvercote and north Oxford of access to library facilities.  In particular it will affect young families, older people, and others without easy access to the city centre.