Save Birmingham campaign calls for urgent plan to save Birmingham’s 36 libraries through community ownership.

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Following the publication of Birmingham’s emergency budget, which is due to be discussed by the City Council Cabinet next week (27 February), community campaign group calls for urgent plan to save the city’s libraries.

As part of proposed cuts of more than £300 million over the next two years, the council is considering closing 25 of the existing 36 libraries across the city, leaving just one for every 100,000 residents living in Birmingham. 

This is likely to have devastating impacts for the residents of Birmingham, leaving many neighbourhoods without access to the vital local support services that libraries provide. 

Instead, the Save Birmingham campaign is calling for an urgent meeting with Council Leaders and Officers to consider alternatives to closing down or selling off up to 25 community libraries. Residents could take over the running or ownership of community libraries - saving and transforming them into new community hubs to provide services that people want and need. The campaign is offering expert advice from key partners such as Co-operatives UK, Locality and Plunkett Foundation, drawing on examples from elsewhere in the country. In York, a community-led organisation was set up to run library services on behalf of the City of York Council. In Devon, ‘Libraries Unlimited’ was launched as a community-owned public service mutual that both provided new community-led services and delivered financial savings.

This call to action builds on the success of the Save Birmingham campaign in recent months, which was launched to offer positive alternatives to the financial crisis facing Birmingham City Council. The campaign group of voluntary and community groups has mobilised thousands of residents to nominate around 200 community places on the savebirmingham.org website. In recent weeks, residents have started petitions to protect their local libraries, with some applying for official protection from sales through the “asset of community value” process, supported by Save Birmingham.

 

Kathy Hopkin, Co-ordinator from Save Birmingham:

“Once our community libraries are lost, they’re lost for good.

We’re calling for an urgent meeting with Council Leaders and Officers to find another way. Instead of closing down or selling off our community libraries, they could learn from elsewhere. We want the council to look at transferring the running of libraries to a city-wide community trust, to save our libraries and make them better able to meet local people’s needs.

Residents can also do their part by showing their support on the savebirmingham.org website, joining or starting local campaigns to protect their local community places, and applying to officially protect their library from quick sales.”

 

For interviews or further comments please contact Kathy Hopkin on contact@savebirmingham.org and 07971 528 942.


 

[1. https://savebirmingham.org/news/take-action-now-protect-your-library]