A year from now, Mayor Marvin Rees will begin campaigning for his next term of office and the number of libraries open in Bristol will be down by 63%. Most libraries will only open for three days a week.
There are now 27 funded by the Bristol City Council but after the horrific Conservative austerity cuts to local funding, piled on top of extra responsibilities for social care, there is less money to go around.
The budget for libraries has been cut from £4.6m to £3.25m and this 29% cut is the incentive for the destruction of the publicly owned library system in our city.
The first cuts come with defunding and 17 libraries have been targeted for that.
Some placating responses to these eventual closures have included community groups taking over the running of the services. The fate of community libraries is often short-lived and with diminished stock, services, and safe spaces. See the fate of Barnet libraries , South Wigston Library , Manchester Library , and not to trivialise the exhaustion of volunteers
Our volunteer board is exhausted – the responsibility and physical demands of delivery, combined with pressure for transparency and inclusion have taken their toll.
Note that volunteer numbers have increased by 43% since 2012.
The second destruction comes from the idea of mutualising our public service, which effectively means handing over control to groups who end up cutting staff, stock and resources while paying executives an ever-increasing amount and putting money into buildings.
On 3 July, the library services’ future may be determined by our Labour council. Until then and following on with the changes, I will be posting as much as I can about what these changes mean and what is taking place.
These may be the last few days of a publicly controlled library service that includes 27 libraries in Bristol. This is the last chance to save our libraries.