'Plain discrimination' Oxford Times, Thursday 20th January 2011
Sir – I was surprised to read Keith Mitchell’s letter (January 13) repeating what he wrote to you in December: “They must put themselves in the shoes of the decision makers and say where else that £2m can be saved, if not from library spending. Should it be from Fire and Rescue or children’s social care.” Save the Kennington Library Campaign responded to his earlier challenge and we were indeed sympathetic with the council’s situation. But as he obviously ignored our reply, I follow his example and repeat our main point. We are not suggesting that the library budget should not be cut. We are asking that the savings should be made in a different manner, in a fairer way.
He proposes increasing the budget of some hub libraries but closing 20 rural and suburban libraries. This is plainly discriminatory; rural dwellers pay their taxes in an equal manner; so the cuts should apply equally too.
We have responded to the encouragement of councillor Heathcoat to email future libraries with comments, questions and suggestions. I understand hundreds of people have taken up that offer, but those who have spoken to me have all received an automated response.
After the last cuts, Adderbury library formed a Friends Group to pay their librarian for the hours not funded by the council. Volunteers can help but a modern library service needs professional librarians I am sure Friends can rally in the hub libraries, too. There may be a better way of cutting the libraries budget than the one we suggest of cutting all 43 libraries by 20 per cent. Without the necessary data, any other suggestion on our part is just a guess. What we need is a genuine consultation.
Sylvia Vetta, On behalf of The Friends of Kennington Library