Brent SOS Libraries, formed in 2011 to fight the closure of half the borough’s public libraries, campaigns for improved library provision in the London Borough of Brent.
The campaign is now Brent Save Our Seven Libraries – follow the campaign to save Willesden Green Library.
BRENT SOS LIBRARIES
LIGHT OF LEARNING RELAY
SUNDAY 11th OCTOBER 2015
11am to 3pm
MARKING THE FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBRARY CLOSURES
Join the torch relay to mark four years since Brent Council closed our six libraries, with an additional stop at Willesden Green Library. The relay will link the libraries, with readings at each stop. Come along and help to celebrate our steadfast commitment to continue the fight for our libraries. Since the closures, community libraries have opened in Barham and Preston, and will open in Kensal Rise and Cricklewood next year.
Kensal Rise Library (start) 11am
Willesden Green Library 11.30am
Cricklewood Library 12 noon
Neasden Library 12.30pm
Tokyngton Library 1pm
Barham Volunteer Library,
428 Wembley High Road 1.45pm
Barham Library 2.15pm
Preston Community Library (end) 3pm
The Brent SOS AGM 2015 will take place on Sunday 7th June 2015 at 3pm at
Preston Community Library, Carlton Avenue East, Wembley, Middlesex HA9 8PL
Please come along for an update on community libraries across Brent
and to share your thoughts on library provision in Brent.
There will be tea and cake.
LIGHT OF LEARNING DAY 2014
Campaign groups around the borough marked Light of Learning Day 2014 with a series of events marking the third anniversary of the library closures.
Light of Learning Day 2014 at Barham and Cricklewood
*****Meeting Notification for 19 May 2013***** ******Meeting Notification for 19 May 2013*****
Brent SOS Libraries
Sunday 19th May 2013
3pm to 5pm
Barham Community Library
428 High Road,
Wembley HA9 6AH
5 minutes walk from Wembley Central Station (Bakerloo line and Overground).
Bus numbers 18, 92 and 182 stop outside the library.
All library lovers are welcome.
Come and find out what has been happening across the borough,
especially about new and proposed community libraries,
and share your thoughts about the library service.
Tea and cake (please bring a cake contribution if you would like to).
************** 23 Feb 2013*****************
CIPFA study shows terrible performance by Brent Library Service
compared with other London boroughs
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy(CIPFA) is the leading accountancy body for the public services. The full set of statistics can be found at
This article discusses their latest comparative statistics on libraries and it shows Brent in a very poor light indeed.
Each borough is analysed within a comparator group and Brent appears both within the London boroughs and outer Boroughs groups (e.g. with Harrow, Barnet, etc.). In every case Brent is either bottom of the class or in the “relegation zone”.
Comparison within 16 London boroughs :
Brent comes last, or worst, in the following criteria:
Lowest number of libraries (6 against an Average of 11, despite being the fourth largest of 16 boroughs compared)
Lowest percentage of book requests met within 7 days
Lowest number of service points i.e. full libraries plus other service locations
Lowest number of service points per 100,000 population (2 against an average of 4)
Lowest number of staff per 100,000 population.
Brent comes second last or worst in “physical visits for library purposes”.
But of course we know that Brent has no way of distinguishing visits for library and non-library purposes so even this puny “achievement’ is probably an overestimate.
Brent lifts its performance to be only third worst in a) Number of active borrowers and b) Book stock per 1000 population.
You may remember that Brent made promises to protect expenditure on book stock. They claimed it would be better once they only had to service six libraries. This seemed to us false logic because it is people that borrow books, not buildings. In fact, Brent’s population actually increased by 18% between the 2001 and 2011 census so even if the book stock had been protected it would have fallen back against the population that had to be serviced – but population was something the many pages of “library strategy” never mentioned.I wonder why?
But do not despair. Brent is not always at the bottom.
Brent has the fifth highest cost per book acquisition (and is above average)
Brent has the third highest cost of employee expenditure as a percentage of revenue expenditure. (Forecast to rise to second highest in 2012-13.)
Of course, this might be a good thing if Brent were efficient in managing non-employee costs as that might explain employee cost being such a high percentage. Sadly, this is not the case.
Brent has the highest material expenditure as a percentage of revenue expenditure.
Brent has the highest absolute cost per employee (approximately £47,000 compared to an average of £35,000 – and remember, we are comparing against central London Boroughs). What do we get for this apparent excess?
Brent also appears in the Harrow and Barnet group and again appears at the bottom of just about every metric measured by CIPFA.
The Brent & Kilburn Times (26 December, 2012) ran an article headed “Independent Report Slates Brent Council’s Library Service.” Given the right to reply, Cllr Powney was able to refute all the criticism with chapter and verse.
Only kidding! What he actually said was that ”we have been able to refurbish and improve Ealing Rd and Kilburn Library to create attractive and modern spaces and we are extending our Outreach services to parts of Brent which did not have a library nearby”. He obviously just broke into his mantra about (expensively refurbished at a cost not disclosed in the “strategy”) buildings and had nothing whatsoever to say about the statistics. Perhaps he did not hear the question.
Cllr. Powney claims that libraries are not about buildings but about service. Well, what about the service?
What percentage of previously-active users of the closed six libraries remain active users? If he is not monitoring this metric then it shows he does not care.
Why not consider conveniently located delivery points other than full-time libraries?
Why not make more use of volunteer staff to improve service without adding cost?
At a recent meeting, Cllr Powney indicated that no improvement was possible as he is intent on his “strategy” which consists of the number 6.
Cllr Powney tries to spin the data to make the best of a failing “strategy” He states, in his Blog of 1 February, 2013, the number of visitors and the number of book issues to date.
But he fails to make any comparison with the same period last year. In fact, there is little evidence that the loss suffered when the six libraries closed has been made up.
He lists the number of new borrowers. But he fails to give the number of once-active borrowers who are no longer active due to the closure programme.
He is proud to list the number of children (1500) who attended revamped homework clubs.This suggests that there is a need. But he fails to explain why he is not prepared to offer a similar service to children in the Preston/Kenton area.
He states that 56,000 “items”(are items books or what?) were added to the bookstock. But he fails to list the total bookstock compared to the total this time last year.
He pointlessly comments that: “If laid end to end those 56,000 items would stretch from Wembley Stadium to Piccadilly Circus.”
Well, we say that if all the Councillors were laid end to end along the North Circular, it would serve them right.
What it amounts to is this. Brent has implemented a prejudiced, ill-conceived, politically-motivated decision that ignores service to the WHOLE community and, thus far,is impervious to reality. No amount of spin can conceal that.
- An article by Simon Gurevitz.
Youtube video links
Brent SOS Libraries not giving up!
Philip Pullman on saving Brent’s libraries:
Zadie Smith on Radio 4 talking about Brent libraries:
Brent SOS campaign documents
Written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Library Closures
The complete list of written evidence is at:
Local campaign website links
Library campaign websites
Other useful links
The Public Library Service Standards (now abolished)