Meeting with Friern Barnet Library Trustees

Over the last year or so, as I have in the past documented on this blog and tweeted about, I have been on the receiving end of a consistent and very personal campaign from a minority of supporters of the Friern Barnet Library.

It was a welcome step forward that I received an email from the trustees of the Friern Barnet Library, which in conclusion said,

“You have been subjected to some outrageous, abusive and inexcusable behaviour. I hope you will be prepared to help us repair the damage.”

I very much welcome this and have agreed to meet a delegation of the trustees next week.

I hope that this will start a more amicable relationship and we can start to work together to secure the future of a community library in Friern Barnet.


Barnet Libraries due to receive £250,000 technology upgrade

I have just issued the following Press Release

Barnet’s libraries are set to benefit from the investment of more than £250,000 through the introduction of self service technology and Wi-Fi.

Over the coming months work will be underway to install self service kiosks in the borough’s libraries to allow residents to borrow, renew and return books at the touch of a button.

Libraries already using the technology will have their machines updated while at other libraries people will be able to use the self service machines for the first time.

The upgrade will also see Wi-Fi installed in libraries which don’t already have it.

Installation work will require a number of the borough’s libraries to close for a short time. Details of the closures can be found below or by visiting

The machines will help free up staff to deal with more complex enquiries and to run events and activities.

RFIDs, or Radio Frequency Identification kiosks, allow people to place multiple books into the machine which they can borrow, renew or return using a number of touch screen options.

Staff will be on hand to help customers as they become familiar with the new machines.

Councillor Robert Rams, Cabinet Member for Customer Access and Partnerships, said: “When I launched our library review we pledged to invest money in modern technology to ensure that our library service continues to be one of the best in London.

“Over the next few months we will see our Library service brought into the 21st Century with the installation of self service kiosks.

“In some libraries we are spending up to £40,000 to enable us to do this, but residents will see the benefits for many years to come.”

The following closures will be in place to allow installation or self service technology and Wi-Fi.

Osidge Library – closed from Tuesday 26 February until Saturday 9 March inclusive. The library will re-open on Tuesday 12 March.

Mill Hill Library – closed on Tuesday 26 February from 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open the same day at 2pm.

Hendon Library – closed on Thursday 28 February. The library will re-open on Friday 1 March.

Edgware Library – closed on Monday 4 March. The library will re-open on Tuesday 5 March.

Church End Library – closed from Monday 11 March until Saturday 23 March inclusive. The library will re-open on Monday 25 March.

Grahame Park Library – closed on Tuesday 12 March from 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open on the same day at 2pm.

Chipping Barnet – closed on Wednesday 13 March 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open on the same day at 2pm.

Childs Hill Library – closed from Tuesday 19 March until Saturday 30 March. The library will re-open on Tuesday 2 April.

East Barnet Library – closed on Monday 25 March 2013. The library will re-open on Tuesday 26 March.

Notes to Editors

Some libraries will be closed for longer than others. This is because some libraries will be undergoing additional renovation work and modifications to the internal structure.

Friern Barnet Library Press Release

Below is a copy of the full press release sent out today regarding Freirn Barnet Library.

Community Barnet asked to support local groups interested in future of former Friern Barnet Library building

Barnet Council has asked Community Barnet to support community organisations seeking to make “Right to Bid” proposals for the former Friern Barnet Library Building.

Councillor Robert Rams, cabinet member for libraries said: “We have been able to support a very successful community run library in Hampstead Garden Suburb, in large part because local residents have a fully accountable and effectively organised body that we can provide with public assets.

“I’d very much like to see a similar body in Friern Barnet and Community Barnet seems perfectly placed to support groups of local residents in becoming properly established and able to develop a “Right to Bid” proposal. I understand that they have already had an approach from a potential group. Ideally we would only have a single bid but we could consider more than one.”

As the next step in the Right to Bid process, the council will confirm its intention to market the building at Cabinet Resources Committee in February. Bids cannot be formally invited before that decision.

“I’d like to stress,” said Councillor Rams, “that because of the success of the One Barnet procurement process we have more contractual savings than we expected and the council is in a different financial position than when we started our library review. We also have slightly less pressure on our capital budget which gives us the scope to look favourably on bids for the building from local residents.”

Any bid for the site would be bound by full planning and building regulations.


A sign of a successful library

I read an attack on Hendon Library this morning

The truth is very different to the picture painted in this article.

We actually have 26 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird for general loan, plus 15 copies in the Barnet Book Club collections for reading groups. So, a total of 41 copies in the system. A study guide to the book is also available on Barnet Digital library.

Hendon Library has very high stock figures: – 69,036 items in stock, of which 62,617 are books and 7,651 new items have been added. There are high numbers of books on loan at any one time in Hendon so it’s not surprising that shelves are not fully stocked at all times!

It is a sign of a successful library!

A summary of last week in Barnet

Barnet Primary schools were rated the second best in the country.

Barnet Library services have been awarded £2000 from the Arts Council to help make every primary school child a member of a library.

The council announced a plan to save taxpayers £120million over the next ten years in back office costs. If agreed by Cabinet this week – this will see a large investment in back office services whilst enabling us to freeze council tax.

The Mayor of Barnet held a reception in the town hall to thank all those from Barnet who volunteered during the Olympics.

The Leader of Barnet Council launched a petition to fight the closure of police stations in Barnet –

Barnet Council launches ‘library card for all’ scheme

As part of Barnet Council’s Library review we pledged to make every primary school child a member of the library. We have recently been awarded £2000 from the Arts Council to help us make this happen.

Below is the press release we recently sent out about it.


Barnet is set to be among 22 local authorities testing automatic library membership for children and young people.

The initiative from Arts Council England aims to lead to an increase in children, young people and families using their local libraries, and stimulate more reading for pleasure. Ultimately it’s hoped that 100 per cent of children will become library card holders, one of the main strands of Barnet Council’s library strategy.

Barnet libraries will be working with the borough’s schools to increase library membership at the start of each child’s primary and secondary schooling, emphasising the benefits of library membership for effective learning.

The 22 library services are adopting a variety of approaches for the project which is being supported by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It includes libraries working with:

* birth registration services to offer library cards at birth

nurseries, schools and school library services to promote library memberships to local children and families

· leisure services to offer combined library and leisure cards for children and young people

Councillor Robert Rams, Cabinet Member for Customer Access and Partnerships, said:

“Boosting adult and child literacy is one of the main planks of our library policy and this initiative will allow us to do this. Developing a love of reading from an early age is a fantastic way for children to boost their vocabulary, knowledge and curiosity of life.

“I hope this library card pilot will encourage a whole new generation of young readers to immerse themselves in the stories and adventures they may not have access to at home.”

Nicky Morgan, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England, said: “These projects will test out genuinely exciting, new ways of encouraging children, young people and families to join and access their local libraries.

“Through these projects, we hope that children and young people will be encouraged to use their libraries now and in the future, and will develop a real love for learning and a natural curiosity about the world around them.”

The 22 projects will share approximately £55,000, with Barnet receiving a £2,000 grant.

The automatic library memberships will work towards achieving the Arts Council’s goals of ensuring that every child and young person has the opportunity to engage with their library service, and of ensuring that libraries are sustainable and resilient.

More to libraries than just buildings

The following letter was published in today’s edition of The Barnet Press:


I agree with much of the sentiment of your editorial of October 27, “we cannot allow our libraries to go easily” but disagree with a central tenet of your piece – that the only way of measuring the success of a library service is by the number of buildings.

We have been clear that the heart of our library service has to be promoting reading and literacy, even if the means by which we promote these has changed.

With this in mind our library service review has invested in more adult literacy support, has committed the council to providing every primary school pupil in the borough with library membership and has increased the book-buying budget.

With less money available for public service, if we simply provide less of the same we will be dooming services like libraries to a general spiral of decline.

All of the public sector faces the unavoidable challenge of working with less money, library services will have to deal with a reduced budget. But the approach we have taken in this borough leaves the service well prepared to meet its priorities over the coming decade. While reducing the library service budget by more than 20 per cent, in line with other council budgets, we have avoided the wholesale building closures seen in other boroughs.

In Barnet we see the need to provide a range of buildings to meet local needs. Some of these will be major landmark libraries, others will be smaller link libraries specialising in outreach and adult literacy.

And as our newly published budget proposal shows, we are also hoping that positive community proposals also come forward.

The council’s new library strategy shows that by being clear about what we are trying to achieve, we can produce a service that is better for the great majority of its users, meets the changing needs of residents and is fit to prosper in the coming decades.