As Brent Council slashes library services in half, telling people to “buy books in Tesco” and “get on a bus”, little do residents realise that of the 6 remaining libraries, only 3 are ‘fit for purpose’. Kilburn “needs major upgrade”, Willesden Green is set to be knocked down and rebuilt and funding is being sought for Kingsbury to be rebuilt/enlarged. That leaves just 3 usable libraries in Brent Council’s vision of a “21st century library service”.
Preston users have been told to go to Kingsbury, but this is clearly not big enough. So where will they go? The new £ 3 million mega-library our cash-strapped council found money for. How convenient. At least for the council. It’s too far for children, the elderly and disabled (who most use the existing library) , there’s no parking and rising public trasport fares make this ‘free’ service, not so free.
Cricklewood and Kensal Rise were told to go to the soon-to-knocked-down Willesden Green. Neasden too. Or this severely deprived area can use Town Hall. Oh hang on, that will be replaced by £3million mega library much further away.
You can of course use a computer to download books. If you don’t have a computer? Or god forbid, just one per family, you can use Brent’s computers. Just get on a bus to do it. How many 8 year olds will do that?
So how many existing users will go to other libraries? No attempts made to find out: ” it is impossible to predict increases in numbers at remaining libraries”. Yet they are certain this will improve the service.
Brent library users can now look forward to:
– distant services.
– 3 functioning libraries (down to 2 as Town Hall shifts to Mega Library) instead of 12.
– a free mobile app that tells them how far away their distant services are (free to download, £30,000 to create)
– charges to borrow books (bus fare, tube fare, or parking)
Why? For the want of just £400,000 a year from a council that just wrote off £17.3 million in uncollected debt.