Library boss faces fiery tempers from users
PUBLISHED: 11:06 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 September 2010
Ben McPartland AN abusive letter has been sent to Camden Council s libraries boss after a fiery meeting in Belsize Park this week. It was sent to Cllr Flick Rea following the talks over the contentious modernisation scheme to pull Camden s 13 libraries o
AN abusive letter has been sent to Camden Council's libraries boss after a fiery meeting in Belsize Park this week.
It was sent to Cllr Flick Rea following the talks over the contentious modernisation scheme to pull Camden's 13 libraries out of a "time warp".
Camden Public Libraries Users Group (CPLUG) organised the Belsize Library meeting on Tuesday to give Camden a chance to explain its proposals.
Passions were high among the dozens of library users who turned up. Many are unhappy with plans to cut several posts and introduce self-service machines for users to check out books.
But Lib Dem culture boss Cllr Rea said: "The letter was hurtful. The writer said it was time for me to go. I don't mind being got at for things I have done or got wrong - but I firmly believe this is the right way to go forward. I am sorry if I did not get that across at the meeting.
"Libraries are in a desperate situation right across the country and it is no point pretending that Camden's libraries are safe from this. There has been a certain amount of misinformation out there and it is a case of some people adding two and three together and getting six. There is a misconception fuelled by a simple fear of change.
"The majority of the people at the meeting were people who don't like change or do not see the point of it and want their libraries to stay as they are."
Camden's project, titled Grow Your Library, which has a budget of £1.5million, has been designed to "deliver efficiency savings and increase cost effectiveness".
Cllr Rea believes the changes are necessary to stave off any closure threat in the future.
But users at the meeting said that the council was not giving a good enough explanation for axing posts and replacing front counter staff with the self-service checkouts.
Heath Library user Ruth Gorb said: "We don't understand how spending £1.5million on new machines and redesigning the managerial structure is going to save money. The meeting got very angry because questions were not really being answered.
"We are still very upset that these machines are being moved in. We have been told it is going to be absolutely lovely - but you can't fool me. One man summed it up. He just said, 'If it ain't broke, why try to fix it.'