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Jun 15 2015

Bob Lawrence Library – Books sold, staff in tears, shutters down

library_book_shelfI watched the shutters go down for the very last time at the Bob Lawrence Library on Saturday. I’m sure that I won’t be the only one who will miss this library that has enriched the lives of so many individuals.

In the last 6 months since we started campaigning to keep the library open, we have gotten a first hand account of how the Harrow Council conducts itself and it has left so much to be desired for. It therefore came as no surprise that not one of them turned up at the library to pay their final respects to a library named after one of their own.

The books were being sold at £1 for 3, but only for the ones published before 2014. This is because only the new books would be boxed and redistributed to the libraries that survived the cuts. Had this book sale occurred a week prior, then perhaps more books would have found good homes. In the hour that I was there, I watched as hordes of people purchases as many books as they could carry. I purchased as many as I could stack into my car simply to save them from being disposed.

I’m not entirely certain what will happen to the remaining pre-2014 books left on the shelves. I can only hope they do not end up binned. If this were the case, then why didn’t the council set up a stand outside the library and hand the books out to the people passing by or to charity shops or schools or shelter / homes or any number of other options.

I noticed that the picture of Cllr. Bob Lawrence was no longer hanging proudly on the entrance wall. No one knew what’s become of it. I can only hope it’s found its way to his family.

There were only two librarians on staff. Tired, overworked and they had skipped their breaks simply because there was no reinforcements to manage the busy desk. At closing time they were in tears, frustrated and saddened by the situation.

It’s been nothing short of disgraceful – how the council has conducted itself. This act of social vandalism, I can only hope will not be forgotten. I wonder what “socially” acceptable establishment will take its place. We will all just have to watch this space (as well as how long before council pulls the plug on transport to the alternative library – they did say it was temporary).

We wish we could have done more to save this library. Perhaps our best efforts just wasn’t enough to save a learning resource and social hub for a truly highly deprived ward.

Thank you for supporting us throughout this process. I wish the outcome were more positive but when the council refused our appeal, there was not much left we could do. I’m so glad that this was taken up at Westminster last week by the MP Bob Blackman. Let’s hope that the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries will keep the council from closing any more libraries in the borough.

– Bob Lawrence Library Campaign Team

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13 comments

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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    I expect the philistines on the council will burn the remaining books to reduce energy costs at the Civic Centre. it would seem by not turning up the councillors have trashed the memory of Bob Lawrence. How must his family be feeling?

    I expect the site will be sold and flats built. Unfortunately for anybody buying or renting the properties there will be no library.

    The Marie Antoinette councillors will say “What no access to free reading matter let them buy from Amazon or pay the bus fare and travel to other parts of the borough”.

    Hang your heads in shame councillors you have given the poor and disadvantaged a kick in the teeth!

  2. sonoo malkani

    Fully endorse the comments above and the heartfelt feelings of those who worked so hard to keep this library and the Rayners Lane library open.Nobody seems to care about the feelings or needs of the public.Of course,building flats will probably be the number one choice!wait and watch the space.Staff must be devastated as are local citizens,robbed of their little “oasis”in the community.

  3. Shambhu gupta

    The cuts being imposed on the Harrow Council are by the central government.

    More cuts are their way.

    I find it amazing and hypocritical that Tories criticize any local cut while supporting the Tory government in their systematic destruction of the social fabric of the society.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Agreed, sadly hypocrisy is rife here!

      Note: “ There are currently 4145 libraries in the UK. There were 4482 in 2009/10 and 4622 in 2003/4 “ – and some folks are taking legal action about this:-

      http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/2015/06/legal-action-against-the-dcms-over-cuts-to-public-libraries-appeal-for-information.html

    2. Susan Hall

      Where Councils make their cuts are up to the Local Council and its ruling administration – Labour in the case of Harrow. Tories would have looked at Senior Management costs and Consultants long before Libraries were even thought about. Harrows Labour administration blames the Government for everything, perhaps its time they looked nearer to home and ran the Council more efficiently.

      1. Someonewhocares

        A month later – but nothing new: Central Government cuts play their part Susan:-

        http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05875.pdf

        So you ‘would have’ cut Senior Management and Consultant costs ?
        And then, in your second/third/fourth year?

        1. Someonewhocares

          Oops: Better if you ‘lose’ the .pdf in the link, as in:-

          http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05875

  4. Phillip

    I have no doubt this is just the start. I have heard all the other libraries are also at risk, The aim is to have 1 central library in Harrow town centre. it is the childrens centres next that will close. The one at St Joseph’s school is only quite newly built too. I have heard September is the date set for closure.

  5. Susan Hall

    Not all Harrow Councillors Concerned Harrovian, just the Labour ones. But you are correct that they should hang their heads in shame because it is indeed the poor and disadvantaged that are the real losers here – a total disgrace.

  6. Harrow Dude

    I paid a visit to Gayton library today apparently there is another restructure of the service resulting in 33 redundancies. Funny thing is that it it is not identified in any of Cabinet documents availiable on-line and for some reason it would appear that Harrow Council have agreed to underwrite the redundancy costs. Surely these costs should be met by Carillion…however someone at Harrow thinks differently…The question is who and why?

  7. Susan Hall

    Harrow Dude – I will ask the question. A last we may have found common ground!

  8. sonoo malkani

    The manner in which a borough which prides itself on educational achievements —and rightly so–is conducting itself and shutting libraries down as if they were a blot on our landscape says it all.No point saying anything to Labour who hold power and feel that shutting down libraries is the best thing since sliced bread!Easy way to save on costs and get freehold premises to sell off as in Rayners Lane.

    They can pass the buck and blame whomever ,but the public has smelled a rat and are sure this is a planned programme to shut these centres of learning down,systematically each year.One CENTRAL library at the Old Post office will be available for the WHOLE of Harrow at the end of their tenure—if we get lucky!!

    In an age where our kids need to catch up with English,Math and other subjects to compete effectively with the excellence of students from India ,China and other countries I find it bizarre that Harrow Council is unconcerned about handicapping the educational opportunities for our students.Libraries have been hubs for so many different people in the local community.All that is being taken apart without proper thought to long term damage which is an inevitable consequence.

    No point blaming David Cameron or his government for decisions made by our local Council.Time you stood up and shouldered the blame for your own actions.

  9. Someonewhocares

    Sonoo do you actually *read* any of the links posted, for instance:

    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05875

    Please *read* (-yes, sorry it is 30 pages-) and then review your comments above!

    Note in particular the role played by CENTRAL GOVERNMENT in all this, described at length.

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