York Gardens Library: public read-in on Feb 5th

4 mins read

The Council is proposing to close York Gardens Library and reduce hours of other libraries in order to save money after the budget cut announced  by the government.
We received this email from Winnie Smith:

Thanks for the support against the closure of York Gardens Library.
I’m part of a team organising a read-in in the library on Saturday February 5th between 1-3.
Ideally, we would like to create a community event for everyone on the estates before our only community resource is taken away. This would also be linked nationally to read-ins happening all over the country (organised by ‘Campaign for the Book’).
So far the plan is to support the library’s regular rhymetime 12.30-1.00 making it the largest attendance they’ve had, and then have our event in the hall from 1.
We’re in the process of inviting lots of different people- if you can think of anyone who can help out that would be great. We’ve had confirmations so far from 3 teenage/ childrens authors, 1 adult and 2 musicians and we’re slowly grinding down various other personalities!
We would like to intersperse these talks with members of the public talking about what the library means to them. The only rule is that speakers can only talk about the library- for one day only there’ll be no mention of other cuts/ choices made by the council.
Any publicity you can help with would be amazing.

Press release

York Gardens Library (Battersea, Wandsworth) is going to be the location for a read-in on ‘Save our Libraries Day’ 5th February 1300-1500. This is in response to the planned closure by Wandsworth Council despite the fact that the library serves the most deprived area in the Borough. This will be a community event for everyone in the area- before the only community resource for the attached estates is taken away.
The afternoon will start with children joining in the library’s regular rhymetime [half an hour of action rhymes and dancing for the under fives] 12.30-13.00 before our event starts. In between the entertainers members of the public will talk about what the library means to them.
Contributors to the event are still being added to the bill but those confirmed so far include

  • Sophia Bennett (author of the popular teen series Threads which won The Times/ Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition.)
  • Rebecca Elliot (author and illustrator whose book ‘Just Because’ is currently nominated for the People’s Book Prize and the NASEN children’s book award)
  • Emmy The Great (great singer-songwriter)
  • Caroline Lawrence (bestselling children’s author who will be giving a sneak peek at her new series ‘Western Mysteries’ and giving away copies of her old Roman Mysteries)
  • Nadifa Mohamed (author of Black Mamba Boy – winner of the Betty Trask award and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Guardian First Book Award)
  • Swiss (formerly of So Solid Crew)
  • Actor and Director Sam West

The closure of York Gardens Library will have a devastating impact on the community that it serves. It is the only communal space in the local vicinity and is a vital resource for those living in the area. In order to close York Gardens Library, Wandsworth Borough Council needs to provide reasons for choosing this branch. We do not believe they have done so…..
They say:
York Gardens Library is the most expensive library per issue/ in relation to its visitors (source)
We say:
Wandsworth Libraries’ report into the closing of the libraries admits that actually Battersea Library is the most expensive (source – page 5) Also, this report doesn’t take into consideration that York Gardens Library costs so much because it needs to pay to heat halls which are then rented out, earning the council approximately £1000 per month.
They say:
Wandsworth libraries would not be so closely placed if the borough was founding them now. Users of York Gardens Library should just walk the extra distance to a neighbouring borough. (Councillor Sarah Mcdermott- Council meeting. December8th 2010)
We say:
York Gardens Library was only opened in 2001! It is the only communal resource and community space for the attached estates and serves a higher density of people in its catchment area than any other Wandsworth Library (source – page 5) There is another library nearer Battersea which is not facing closure.
They say:
The number of children who took part in the CIPFA survey (which asks them their opinions about the library) was too small to successfully show what the library means to the community. (CIPFA survey results- as broken down on http://saveyorkgardenslibrary.com)
We say:
208 children participated in York Gardens Library’s survey over 1 week in September- this was more than two other libraries in the borough and the same number as those answering the the larger Battersea Library . The results of the CIPFA survey showed that:
When children were asked to answer the sentence: ‘I come to the library to’:

  • Highest in the borough for ‘Use the computers
  • Highest in the borough for ‘Meet friends
  • Highest in the borough for ‘Read
  • Highest in the borough (twice as much as any other library) for ‘Do my homework’.

Why do you borrow books?

  • Highest in the borough for ‘I want to get better at reading
  • Highest in the borough for ‘Library staff say they are good

Why do you go to the library?

  • Highest in the borough for ‘There are computers to help me
  • Highest in the borough for ‘There is a homework club
  • Highest in the borough for ‘It is somewhere to sit and work

A stunning 59% of children say using YGL has ‘helped me to do better at school’, this is a much higher figure than any other library in the list.
Also, by some distance it was the library that was top for serving children in the categories: ‘female‘ ‘black‘ ‘African‘ and ‘Caribbean‘. (CIPFA survey results- as broken down on http://saveyorkgardenslibrary.com)
Read more here:

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CJI editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.