More than 19,000 petition Suffolk CC to save all libraries

Save our Libraries petitions with more than 19,000 signatures have been handed to Cllr Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council cabinet member responsible for libraries. The petitions come from 12 libraries and a couple of other sources, out of 44 libraries in the county, so it can be anticipated the total number signing Save Libraries petitions is considerably higher.

ALL Libraries
Ipswich County
Ipswich Labour
Oulton Broad

Petitions in italics previously handed in but representatives at handover. Ixworth also handed over their petition. List from James Hargrave.

Cllr Judy Terry, who is the portfolio holder for libraries, came down to the entrance of Endeavour House, after some shoting and phone calls, to recieve the petitions. She was very keen to explain that no decisions on the future of libraries had been taken as can be seen in this video.

There did appear to be a change of tone in what she said reflecting the promise of the new council leader Mark Bee that they would be more transparent and listening. However, many questions about the consultation remained unanswered.

A complete video of the comments made by Cllr Terry and her answers to questions is available here. It includes the admission of an “error” in a council response to a Freedom of Information request.

Before the presentation opposition leader Kathy Pollard (Lib Dem) and Sandy Martin, the Labout leader, were interviewed by Anglia News. The videos are my recording of the interviews.

A poem for libraries by Luke Wright

Bungay poet, Luke Wright, was supporting the campaign to save his local library on Saturday. You can read his thoughts on Suffolk County Council’s library proposals and the full text of his poem An Ash of Dewey Decimals on his website.

I will be adding a further video from Bungay later.

March for Leiston Library

A march to save Leiston Library is to be held on Saturday (March 5). Details at the Save Leiston Library website.

The village where everyone is a “wealthy achiever” — data and the future of libraries

Otley is the most consistently wealthy village in Suffolk, according to a database being used used by Suffolk County Council in its libraries consultation. Everyone, bar none, in this pleasant village strung-out along the B1079 north of Woodbridge lives in a household of “wealthy achievers”.

I found this by chance, in my attempt to understand some figures in the Debenham information pack which is a part of the consultation documentation. It quotes ACORN data, which divides people into four categories: wealthy achievers, urban prosperity, moderate means and hard pressed.

It is ACORN data which explains whether you get pestered by loan sharks or investment brokers, and helps Waitrose and Aldi decide where to open stores.

I was surprised 225 of the 307 “Register Users Borrowed in Last Year” (sic)  at Debenham were “Wealthy Achievers.”

The company which produces the ACORN statistics describes “Wealthy Achievers” as:

These are some of the most successful and affluent people in the UK. They live in wealthy, high-status rural, semi-rural and suburban areas of the country. Middle-aged or older people predominate, with many empty nesters and wealthy retired. Some neighbourhoods contain large numbers of well-off families with school-age children, particularly the more suburban locations.

These people live in large houses, which are usually detached with four or more bedrooms.

The proportion in this classification using Debenham library is reasonably close to the overall ACORN data for Debenham. The county data, by electoral ward is available from Suffolk Observatory, an online store of data, statistics and reports, run by a partnership of councils, the police and the NHS.

A chart in the Debenham library information back goes beyond broad “wealthy achievers” and “hard pressed” categories. It tells us that 42 borrowers were old people living in detached houses, while 22 were well-off managers living in larger houses, if we dig a bit deeper. To do that you will need to download the ACORN user guide here.

There are some questions that need answering:

  1. How accurate is the ACORN data?
  2. Is it appropriate for the library consultation?
  3. How are individual book borrowers related to the third and most detailed level of ACORN classification?
  4. What information does the library service hold on individual borrowers?
  5. Why was this data used, rather than a simpler neighbourhood profile?

There are other puzzles in the consultation documentation. For example, why does each loan at Ipswich library cost £5.06 a loan while at the Chantry library, less than two miles away, they cost £2.14?

Twenty nine Suffolk libraries are thretened with closure if they are not taken-over by community organisations.

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