That’s the stark assessment of a professional library worker and campaigner following a visit to three of the borough’s 13 libraries which are now part of an expensive competitive tendering process that is expected to be completed next month.
Alan Wylie visited Broad Green, Thornton Heath and Croydon’s Central library and found a consistent pattern of empty shelves, unsorted books, switched off computer stations and long queues of users. His conclusion is that there has been a deliberate policy by the council to run-down the offering of the libraries ahead of handing them over to a commercial concern.
Yet according to Wylie, few of the library users he encountered on his visit were even aware that Croydon is looking to farm out its public library service, something for which the Tory-run council has never obtained any form of mandate.
In November 2010, Croydon Council ran a consultation in which the public overwhelmingly rejected proposals to close six of the borough’s branch libraries. As Inside Croydon discovered, despite receiving thousands of responses, not a single one called for privatisation, or out-sourcing, of the public library service.
Yet the Conservative group in control of the council has tried to use the consultation – which rejected closures and did not call for outsourcing – to justify its dogmatic policy of privatisation.
“In all three libraries we spoke with users,” Wylie reports.
“Most were aware that there had been a consultation but they understand the outcome of it was that the libraries were saved and some were not even aware a conclusion to the consultation had been announced.
“None we spoke to however were aware of Croydon’s decision to outsource the whole network and most found this very concerning,” Wylie writes on his website.
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- Library campaign invokes Lord Denning in official complaint (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon Council a possible conumdrum (croydoncommunists.wordpress.com)