There are four public libraries in Selly Oak District and as an Arts Forum we have used them all for workshops, exhibitions and performances. They help us to reach out into communities with few other public buildings available to hold events and they are a vital resource for the communities they serve, holding regular events, hosting groups and other services such as the Neighbourhood Office in Druids Heath Library.
The recent consultation which ended last week shows a bleak future for Birmingham’s libraries with cuts to hours and staffing, building closures and transfer of services to community organisations, taking libraries out of local Council control.
A tiered system has been used to categorise the libraries and suggest which will close, which will have the most hours cut and which will be transferred to interested community groups. Only one Library in the district, Yardley Wood, is categorised as Tier 1 meaning it will remain in its existing building, open for 35 hours a week.
Many of you will already have heard a lot about the threat to Stirchley Library which, along with Druids Heath falls into Tier 2. The current suggestion is that Stirchley Library will close and the services it offers will be relocated to Stirchley Baths. Selly Oak faces the worst cuts in Tier 3 with building closure and transfer to an as yet-unidentified organisation with the Council offering some books and PCs as compensation. All the libraries face cuts to staffing, replacing them with self-service machines.
The loss of library services will devastate the communities they serve; they are a vital source of information and often internet access for communities which are underserved in other respects.
You can read more about the proposed cuts and changes to services across the whole city here. In the meantime, there is still plenty going on at your local library, as well as organisations like the Arts Forum who use the libraries for one-off events, they run weekly and monthly arts events of their own.
Druids Heath Library:
Crafty Sew ‘n’ sews`: every Saturdays 10 – 11am
Selly Oak Library:
Monthly Craft Session: 2nd Saturday of every month 11am – 12m
Weekly under 5s story time every Monday 10.15 – 10.45am
Monthly craft sessions: 1st Saturday of every month 2 – 3pm
Weekly pre-school fun sessions: every Tuesday 9.45 – 10.15am
Yardley Wood Library:
Under 5s Story time: every Tuesday 09:45 – 10:30am