Sutton Coldfield Library’s April Closure Reprieve

A few lines in a 59 page Birmingham City Council report confirm a reprieve from an April closure for Sutton Coldfield library.

The lines read:

“Note that, subject to the confirmation of funding from Sutton Coldfield Town Council, this report maintains a library service at Sutton Coldfield; should it subsequently not be possible to develop a partnership solution, then a report will be forthcoming recommending its closure by 31 August 2017.”

library petitions - group gather outside of Birmingham Council House

The consultation period for the restructuring of Birmingham’s library service closed on January 27th. The Library Lobby’s own response to the consultation consisted of a critique of the grounds on which the city council recommended Sutton Coldfield library for closure, noting that based on BCC’s own rankings, with a placing of 13 out of 37, the Library is one of the most viable and most needed in the city.

The Library Lobby stressed accessibility issues; Sutton Coldfield town centre library is far more accessible to many more people, due to its better transport links, than any other library in Sutton Coldfield. A detailed analysis of Birmingham City Council’s financial analysis of the costs (and savings upon potential closure) of the library were also provided.

The second half of the Library Lobby’s response consisted of the details of their counter-proposal (available here): one that would see the Library retained as a Tier 1 library within its current premises, supported and augmented by a variety of services provided by a community hub located in the currently vacant 2nd floor space.

The Library Lobby is convinced that in order to provide a long term, sustainable future for the library, collaboration and partnership across the community of Sutton Coldfield will be necessary. To this end The Library Lobby is inviting community groups who would like to use the library / library related space (eg, the 2nd floor in the Red Rose Centre as in the Library Lobby’s proposals outlined above) to come forward.

The Library Lobby is keen to hear from:

  • Group(s) interested in putting on exhibitions, for example of local artists

Group(s) interested in setting up a community cafe 

  • Group(s) interested in work with older people and/or people with dementia, to create, for example a Memory Lab – where the public can transfer obsolete formats such as VHS and audio cassettes to digital files, or a Dementia cafe. This could perhaps tie in with local history and archives.

Group(s) interested in technology, education and training who would be interested in creating a digital hub with resources available to the public, a maker space, a Library of things (lending out equipment), running / training for a Repair cafe
  • Group(s) interested in running Seed libraries, Toy libraries and other sorts of (non-book) libraries
  • Group(s) interested in setting up a Town wide read – perhaps all primary schools / all secondary schools, or a Summer reading challenge for adults
  • Any other group(s) who feel their core values are well aligned with the library and who would like to be involved in creating the most vibrant wider library space in Birmingham

The Library Lobby notes that the future of the library is still far from certain. The call for expressions of interest at this stage is merely to enable conversations to start so that should a stay of execution be achieved, development of plans can begin immediately.