Short-staffed libraries forced to close their doors until 2022

No-go zone: the borough’s libraries won’t open again this year

Croydon’s libraries, already operating on much-reduced opening hours, will close their doors tonight and not re-open until Monday, January 3, at the earliest.

The closures leave students working towards exams in the New Year and other residents denied access to the reading areas and materials, or use of the library computers, for 12 days.

The council made the announcement on its website only yesterday.

“Croydon libraries will be closed from 24 December until 3 January,” it said.

“Our digital library will remain open with access to thousands of e-books, e-audio, digital magazines, newspapers and comics, online reference databases and more.” But tough luck if you don’t have easy access to a broadband connection, tablet or laptop.

“I cannot believe this. You could not make it up,” said one loyal reader who depends on their local library for internet access.

“What about the kids studying and people needing to use the computers? Surely the last two years showed the importance of libraries?”

A Fisher’sFolly source said, “You understand that the library staff, who have been in fear of losing their jobs altogether, deserve and need some family time, especially after all the work they have put in to make the libraries covid-safe.

“But this blanket closure across the borough shows quite how threadbare the libraries’ staffing has become: there’s not enough librarians to provide holiday cover any more.”

Following budget cuts and job losses caused by the council’s financial collapse last year, all of the borough’s libraries are already operating on much-reduced hours, many down to just three days per week.

Croydon Central Library, the largest in the borough, is normally open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for six hours (10am to 4pm), and for five hours (to 5pm) on Saturdays. On Mondays it provides a “select and collect” service only.

One A level student in Purley who contacted Inside Croydon said, “We don’t have internet access at home, and I have my mocks coming up in January. I was hoping to get some solid revision done in the library before the New Year, but now that won’t be possible.”

Other council services will not be closed throughout the week following Christmas, although the council appears to have designated tomorrow, Christmas Eve, as an additional bank holiday, when its contact centre and under-staffed phone lines at Fisher’s Folly will be closed.

The council’s announcement said, “Access Croydon and the council’s contact centre will be closed from Christmas Eve and reopen 29 December. Residents who need support while self-isolating during this period should complete our covid-19 contact form. The council website has emergency contact details for all our services if you need them during the holiday period.”

The Family Justice Centre, for victims of domestic abuse, will be closed from December 24 to 29. For more details call 020 8688 0100 or visit its website.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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3 Responses to Short-staffed libraries forced to close their doors until 2022

  1. Dave West says:

    Not sure we’ll notice in Shirley. They tried to close it and failed so we just get a few hours on Monday and Tuesday (if we’re lucky and there isn’t an issue with the fire alarm); opening too late to catch before work and closing too early after work with a break for lunch to screw anyone who might be able to get there in their lunch hour.

    Have library staff really been working so much harder to make things COVID safe than all the other public facing services? So much so that they need to shut down?

    • Interesting observation, Dave. Be interested in a more detailed assessment of the library’s usability and convenience.

      Could it all be a cynical attempt to manipulate the user figures, diminish the volume of library use and so justify closure so that the site can be flogged off, as Ollie “Shit Show” Lewis has already tried twice before?

      • Dave West says:

        The thought had occurred to me. No one uses it so we’ll close it – ignoring the fact that it’s rarely open, and then only at times when the working population would struggle to get there. So then you just publish raw usage figures with no context to prove your case.

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