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? 


  1. Local parent and academic16 December 2010 at 11:58

    In his letter in the Oxford Times today, Keith Mitchell said the libraries targeted for closure were chosen because their user numbers were low.

    Would it not be both more effective and more economical to increase the numbers of people using these libraries rather than to close them down?

  2. Thanks for that. In fact the County Council has failed to explain the basis on which they calculate user numbers, either in reply to our questions, or at a meeting with the Friends of another library. Also, in their own document (linked to on this site) they claim that transport links, not library usage, with the key factor in their decision-making. All rather mysterious...