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Final chapter for 11 city libraries

North Liverpool set to become a literary desert as service is slashed in half

Written by . Published on August 8th 2014.

Final chapter for 11 city libraries

 IT is looking like the final chapter for more than half of Liverpool’s libraries with the publication today of list of those doomed for closure, turning north Liverpool into a literary desert.

For months it has been something of a page-turner as Mayor Anderson and councillors grappled with a slashed budget for the city. It was known some – but not how many  – libraries would go.

So here is a list of those earmarked for closure: Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow. Walton, Wavertree, West Derby.

Their fate awaits a meeting of the council cabinet next Friday (August 15).

The fact more than half are closing will come as a shock, and a bitter blow to many communities.

Mayor Anderson told Liverpool Confidential it will still leave a library no further than a maximum two miles from any household or workplace in the city.

The city council will continue to operate seven community libraries -  Croxteth, Norris Green, Toxteth, Childwall, Allerton, Garston and Parklands (Speke), as well as the flagship Central Library in William Brown Street.

The Home Library Service, for mobility impaired and socially isolated residents, will also continue. Also saved will be the RNIB Talking Book Service (audiobooks for the blind and visually impaired) retained and the all year round Read Liverpool online e-library service, currently used by 7,000 subscribers.

It seems borth Liverpool, which includes some of the UK’s most socially deprived communities, will become book-free zone for many, with not a single library close by.

It seems libraries in those communities are among the least used, which could, of course, mean that are the most important if the social barometer is to change for the better.


The cabinet report doesn’t say for certain all 11 will close. It will depend on whether alternative and viable ways of delivering services from the buildings can be found. 

The city’s Library Service needs to reduce its budget by £1.7m (25 per cent) as part of the city council’s £156m of savings needed over the next three years due to cuts in Central Government funding.

The scale of the challenge resulted in a two month public consultation which addressed the issues of remodelling the service and looked at how the city’s 19 public libraries were used by customers.

They are at risk because of a number of factors including below average use, high running costs, their proximity to another library and the potential of the service being provided by another organisation or group.

If the report is approved, another full consultation exercise will be undertaken which will include a series of public meetings, inviting people to have their say on the proposed service as a whole as well as those venues which have been identified as potentially at risk. 

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “It’s important to stress that it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the libraries identified will close – we are carrying out a further four week consultation to make sure all options are considered and that it has been a fully comprehensive review of the service as a whole.”

Liverpool’s main opposition party, the Green Party, described the proposals as disappointing.

Green Party Councillor Tom Crone, a leading campaigner to save Sefton Park Library, in his ward, said: “Closing so many libraries is a disaster for the city. Local libraries are an important resource for the young, the old and disabled people who find it hard to travel into the centre of town and maybe cannot afford internet access at home. Green Party Councillors call on the Mayor to reverse these cuts by dipping into the Mayor’s Discretionary Funds and keep this important service open.”  

Further reading: Why Liverpool's libraries musn't crumble

All eyes on Central Library

Most people use Central LibraryMost people use Central Library

More than 3,500 people took part in the initial public consultation. If the report is approved, dates for the next set of public meetings will be announced as soon as possible, with the information being made available through sources such as the city council’s website and in libraries.The initial consultation found that: 
  • 45 per cent of customers use Central Library, and 40 per cent of those consulted said they would use this library if their local library closed.
  • The most-used libraries are Central Library, Allerton, Childwall, Garston and Norris Green. Together these libraries account for 57 per cent of the total library use across the city.
  • 59 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to visit another library if their local one was to close.

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61 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ramsey CampbellAugust 8th 2014.

It doesn't seem long ago that I cut the tape and said some words when the refurbished Sefton Park Library was reopened. And Wavertree Library was where I started work in the library system back in 1966. I know other people have good reason to be sadder than I am about the news.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 8th 2014.

It seems like we are throwing away everything we fought so hard to posses.

Ron TravisAugust 9th 2014.

I remember Ramsey re-opening this wonderful Carnegie Library. It seemed that the library service was undergoing a renaissance just a few years ago. No how things have changed. Andrew Carnegie must be spinning in his grave with Sefton Park, Walton, Kensnigton and Wavertree under threat of closure! We must fight this wholesale closure of libraries. They offer a gateway to literacy, education, information and opportunity. If these closures go ahead the city will have fewer libraries than it had in 1914 and deprived communities in the north of the city will very poor access to a library.

AnonymousAugust 10th 2014.

I had a feeling you were _the_ Ramsey Campbell. I loved your story "The Callers" in The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 24. Is there any chance you will be at the demonstration outside Liverpool Town Hall 8:30am this Friday?

Ramsey CampbellAugust 11th 2014.

Well, thank you very much! Alas, that's a bit early for me to leave my desk - I'll have been at my new novel since 6 or so, but will have hours yet to go.

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

So long as you're working on a new book I'll have to forgive you!

AnonymousAugust 9th 2014.

there are kids on some of the city's tough estates, desperate to do good and 'escape' to a better future. For many of those young dreamers, the public library is their escape route. I understand the desperate plight of the council, but please, not so many libraries. Lets keep all of them or as many we we can. We are snuffing out the dreams and hopes of our young people.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lodge Lane.August 9th 2014.

The desperate plight of the council is that a library service for the people is too workaday and unglamorous for them to bother with; they'd rather spend public money on attention-grabbing vanity projects and incompetent contractors like G4S who so publicly messed up the London Olympics.

AnonymousAugust 10th 2014.

So getting rid of the libraries will save £1.7m. Remind me; How much have we spent of fucking puppets over the past few years? Oh that's right about £6.0 m! Why hasn't all the money they've supposed to have generated been spent on the libraries? It wouldn't have gone into the pockets of tax dodging multi-nationals now would it?

5 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyAugust 10th 2014.


AnonymousAugust 10th 2014.

Spend 6 to get over 100 back? Do the sums moron!

AnonymousAugust 10th 2014.

Sorry, should have realised that someone who writes 6.0 won't be able to!

John BradleyAugust 10th 2014.

The money wasn't council money it was central government money which had to be used for something like the puppets.

AnonymousAugust 10th 2014.

Why didn't Joe Anderson announce these closure before the puppets came to town? Maybe people would have objected to the waste of money. Also, if the puppets generate 100 million why are we having to close libraries you fucking moron!

Clive RichardsAugust 10th 2014.

The council spent £300k on the giants - the rest was arts council and European cash and sponsorship. The total cost was about £2 million, not £6 million. The economic benefit from the giants is the money spent in the private sector and helping support jobs - restaurants, hotels, bars, shops etc and it is not cash that goes directly to the council. But the council does it because it benefits the city's economy and helps sustain and create employment.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

It has been a total of 6 million spent on the fucking puppets since 2008. They're supposed to generate millions for the city, but we're still closing libraries. Also, how much money will literally go up in smoke on bonfire and new years celebrations? Regardless of where the money comes from it's still a waste when people are losing their jobs and resources.

Clive RichardsAugust 12th 2014.

You are comparing apples and pears - the council doesn't get the money from the giants, so your argument makes no sense. The millions of pounds it generates is wider economic benefit for the city. That is what the public sector does - puts on free events that have a wider positive community impact and helps support and create jobs. There are no new year celebrations any more and haven't been for several years. Bonfire Night events make sure thousands don't take a risk with their own fireworks and bonfires so actually saves the public purse money in terms of injuries/fire/ambulance/NHS costs.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

St Georges hall attracted these questions when it was built, at a time when people were deprived and starving. The city fathers wanted to show vision and confidence to visitors arriving at lime street. When times are hard, that's what is needed, and the fantastic show the city put on was a great advert to the UK and wider. We should applaud big thinking confidence, not knock it by being small minded

Livid LiverpudlianAugust 11th 2014.

£1.7 million? The Council probably wastes that much per year on perks for high-ranking officers and Councillors. Perhaps if the libraries spent less on books and more on drinks receptions for the bosses and politicians they'd have been saved.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Emma BAugust 15th 2014.

That's very true. Just the Mayor's salary and the 90 City Cllrs' allowances and expenses equal this figure pa!!!

DisgustedAugust 11th 2014.

Millennium House: how useless was it? How long did it function? How much has it cost? What could the Libraries Service have done with that money? When civilisation leaves Liverpool, could it switch off the light please?

Phillip LawlerAugust 11th 2014.

A lot of people are guilty of the downfall of the library including me. I just buy my books off Amazon and there are other websites where you can buy used books for a pittance too. It's not just about books though, it is about community too. Some of the smaller local libraries are a local hub for people, especially the elderly who aren't as internet savvy.

10 Responses: Reply To This...
Paige TurnerAugust 11th 2014.

How can you be responsible for “the downfall of the library”? If you choose to buy books off foreign, tax-dodging Amazon than a struggling local shop then that’s up to you. The libraries are a basic public service that isn’t supposed to make a profit like a shop has to. The idea of libraries being ‘under-used’ is ridiculous – do they have to be filled with bustle and noise to suit the Council? Surely that open-plan amusement arcade in William Brown Street where the Central Libraries used to be is for all that noise and commotion to prevent readers from concentrating?

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

Phillip, you could make yourself feel a lot less guilty by taking advantage of some of the library's other excellent services. Put yourself on a reservation list for a new book. If you get your name in early you could be the first to read a brand new book, just for 70p.

Phillip LawlerAugust 12th 2014.

The council will use lack of use as a reason for closing a library. They need to cut their budget. Less people are using the libraries these days because of internet access to information and books. To argue otherwise is nonsensical. We are all guilty of the libraries demise. Your argument doesn't stand up Paige - if a library is not used or used very little a simple argument can be made for its closure.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

Phillip, you are selling arms to the enemy by talking about the downfall of libraries and lack of use. Despite the best efforts of the council, slashing opening hours, staffing, magazine subscriptions and signing extortionate PFI deals they still do the following: Offer fantastic value for money, put more into the local economy than they cost, issue millions of books every year, and provide services the internet cannot compete with.

Phillip LawlerAugust 12th 2014.

Your arguments sound sweet but they are falling on deaf ears. Councils themselves don't want to close down libraries but they have to balance the books. If they put more into the local economy than they cost then they wouldn't be up for closing. I do think that libraries are an important educational tool but they do have to justify their own existence. The article above even states that despite the closures there will be a library within two miles of everyone. That's still better than most if not all countries on the planet so it's not like there is an evil government plot to deprive future generations of an education or the freedom of thought.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

Phillip, woeful lack of ambition. We might have more libraries than most nations. Meanwhile in the developed world Finland has a library for every 5000 people. Germany has one per 13000. 8 libraries for 466k people will take us to more than 50k people per library. Worse than Japan at one library per 40k people and the worst (or best if you are on Joe's side) in the G7. Your statement about a library within 2 miles being better than maybe all countries on the planet shows you haven't got a clue what you are talking about. They do return more than they cost and this is well established. If you don't believe me there is plenty of published research if you want to read it. Library goers dontate more money to charity, earn more, do more voluntary work, and cost the NHS less money. Appart from other things. Closing 11 library means a lot more financial pain, not less.

Phillip LawlerAugust 13th 2014.

How does ambition come in to it? That's a nonsense and you are spouting off ridiculous arguments that are backed up by nothing. How do library goers cost the NHS less? That is utterly ridiculous and a claim plucked out of thin air that can have no credible backing. How can you prove that library goers donate more to charity, earn more and do more voluntary work? You can't. You have no credibility and are embarrassing yourself.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2014.

I see. So you know better than The Department Of Culture Media And Sport and The London School Of Economics. And I'm the one embarrassing myself by quoting peer-reviewed, footnoted research and you are the one with credibility giving unfounded opinion. Are you Joe Anderson in disguise?

Phillip LawlerAugust 13th 2014.

That's a lame attempt to attach your opinions to a credible body. You can't accurately claim those things across an entire population and no isolated pocket of survey can be genuinely representative to back up your claims. It is ridiculous. We can however agree that the library is a noble thing and a force for good. I have never once took the stance otherwise.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2014.

You can carry on with your ad hominem attacks but the most be boring for everyone else to read. Until you can support your claim that 2 miles for 95% of the population of the metropolitan area of a G7 country is high library coverage I'm ignoring you.

John BradleyAugust 11th 2014.

Libraries should be viewed as educational. Part of the problem is that they are viewed by the "culture" groups as places to go and find Dickens and Shakespeare not to read reference books. If you look at the entry to the central library all the names are those of fiction writers, whilst the library actually contains mostly non fiction. If the libraries had followed the ideals, aims & traditions of 100 years ago, they'd now be places that offered support on MOOCs, but they got hijacked by people with different aims. en.wikipedia.org/…/Massive_open_online_course… www.mooc-list.com/…

4 Responses: Reply To This...
WordsworthAugust 11th 2014.

MOOCs! Cheap and nasty pretend courses that only make sense from the point of view profit motives. Laughably old hat now anyway, like 1980s 'cybersex'!

John BradleyAugust 11th 2014.

Of course, all free courses are driven by the profit motive and there is absolutely no sex online these days at all.

John ClelandAugust 14th 2014.

Do you still have to strap on all that heavy equipment?

John BradleyAugust 14th 2014.

You are confusing cyber sex with teledildonics. There is now an APP for it. www.gizmag.com/…/…

Ramsey CampbellAugust 11th 2014.

Literature is educational. On a personal note, I might ell not have become a writer if I hadn't borrowed fiction from Childwall Library (the small one in the shop premises) from a very early age.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyAugust 11th 2014.

but it is a very tiny bit of education, one that has come to dominate librarians.

Hiram HackenbackerAugust 14th 2014.

You are such a snob, Bradders! When I was a lad I too thought that the future would be like Thunderbirds; that science and technology was everything and all fiction, drama, etc. was a waste of time and energy that could be better spent creating a new world of metal houses all painted in Dulux Brilliant White with flat roofs to park our helicopters and jet packs. Then I became a teenager.

Tracey IrelandAugust 14th 2014.

Fiction, drama, poetry, music contains our culture; the way we communicate, the way we think, the way we reason. Just because it has been pushed to the back in these semiliterate days does not mean it is less important to us whether we know it or not.

Gladys MitchellAugust 14th 2014.

Truly John, you are surely one of 'Mrs. Bradley's Mysteries'

John BradleyAugust 14th 2014.

Well Hirram when you stop being a teenager we will find out what your opinion is then. No Tracey it does not, it is but a small part of our culture.

Ramsey CampbellAugust 11th 2014.

Oh, the fruits of haste - "might well not..."

Paige TurnerAugust 11th 2014.

The problem here is the people in charge who tell us what to do are mainly idiotic philistines who labour under the misapprehension that the Internet is somehow a substitute for libraries. It is not. It is full of all manner of rubbish; serious, reputable information sources on-line are by SUBSCRIPTION only and they aren’t cheap for an individual. That is why public libraries with computers as well as books were important – before they were mostly closed down. This closure of libraries means that people who are not registered students at some educational institution with its own library will have NO ACCESS to reputable information or literature to read or borrow. They will be even more likely to believe what they read in the Daily Mail or on the television. What a catastrophe.

10 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyAugust 11th 2014.

There are plenty of free reputable sources on the internet. It is just some people believe or judge on the first thing that they find.

SweedlepipeAugust 11th 2014.

The first thing you find on a library shelf id reputable. It has a named author, a named publisher, a place of publication and publication date and even an ISBN number. Your laughable trash on the internet has nothing.

John BradleyAugust 11th 2014.

and how do those things actually make the information reliable? Seem to be more of a case that some people will believe anything printed in a book.

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

And some people will believe anything on Wikipedia!

SweedlepipeAugust 12th 2014.

Hear hear!

Katie54August 12th 2014.

How do those things make the information reliable? They don't, but they are a fair indication that the author is an expert in the field (the publisher would not go to the expense of publishing the book if that were not the case, because no-one would buy it), while the date tells you how up to date the content actually is, whether or not the author has taken the latest research etc. in the field into account. As for free reputable sources, you do not seem to be aware of the fact that almost all the academic journals in which the latest peer-reviewed (and hence reliable) research is published are behind pay walls, and the subscriptions are very expensive, so Paige's point about libraries providing access to these is a very valid one. You may well not need access to these, but plenty of other people do.

John BradleyAugust 12th 2014.

Publisher publish books to make money, they have little interest in varsity. You want to try checking the references, that is what they are there for. You don't want to take 1 source on anything. You cannot offload cross checking to a publisher.

Katie54August 13th 2014.

Please enlighten me - what on earth does the statement "publishers... have little interest in varsity" mean? You could then perhaps also explain what relevance it has here. Thank you for your recommendation about references, that was actually the point I was making- that it's hard to check them when many of the articles in question are behind paywalls. Finally, most people understand that it is sensible to check several sources, stating it here seems a little offensive.

John BradleyAugust 13th 2014.

Meant veracity. Unfortunately a lot of people don't check multiple sources, don't check references.

Andy CarnegieAugust 14th 2014.

Yes, and they are the sort of people who make unwise decisions based on flawed arguments, which is why they are closing our city's libraries down.

Paul WardAugust 14th 2014.

Appalling plans from a council that prefers grandiose notions to actually providing services.

Katie54August 14th 2014.

Perfectly put. And they'll keep doing it, because they're able to abuse the loyalty people feel to Labour - when there's nothing remotely Labour - New or Old - about how they actually do things. It's not as if they're going to lose power anytime soon is it?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 15th 2014.

Sadly, you are right. People support Labour in this City like they support football teams, blindly and without question. We've had a whole raft of politicians exploit this over the years, Joe Anderson is one in a long line. If you Anderson went under the Tory banner with exactly the same policies, he would not have got elected

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2014.

Mmm... I wonder where we'll get the money to bail out the Philharmonic Hall?

Sid BonkersOctober 23rd 2014.

75% from capital receipts and a renegotiation of the lease - it's a loan, not a grant; the other 25% is an advance on planned revenue funding. There is no overall net increase in money to the Phil, but there is a massively improved asset (of which the Council owns the freehold) including a new second venue. This has levered a further 10M capital investment into the city. The Phil is not experiencing a revenue problem, despite, like all arts organisations, having had huge revenue cuts in recent years. Funded arts organisations have had to adapt, become far more entrepreneurial, or fail. The issue for libraries is a revenue issue (the comparable capital project to the Phil refurb was Central Library, and that was well supported too.) Sorry if this reality doesn't fit with your prejudices, though

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