The Birmingham Loves Libraries campaign has been launched to stop Birmingham City Council’s planned closures

A new campaign has been launched in a bid to save a number of community libraries in Birmingham from closure. Birmingham Friends of Library groups, Save Our Libraries campaigns and a host of other library users and residents have joined forces to launch a city-wide Birmingham Loves Libraries campaign.

It is challenging Birmingham City Council’s plan to save millions from its budget with a £2.3m cut to its library services after the authority effectively declared bankruptcy. The council has proposed merging its library service with its Neighborhood Advice and Information Service.

The library budget is currently £5,370,000 and the information services budget is £350,000. The merger, along with the changes, would save 40% of the combined budgets, the council said.

READ MORE: Four demands campaigners are making amid ‘devastating’ council cuts

It proposed four options for its library service – the first “do nothing”. But it said: “Even before Birmingham City Council’s current financial difficulties, there were insufficient budgets to manage and maintain all the city’s libraries.”

That option involves cutting staff by 50 per cent – ​​the council said in real terms 27 libraries were operating rather than a headline figure of 35 due to “current staff shortages and building closures”. This would involve “unplanned, permanent library closures because building repair costs cannot be met”.

The second option would be to keep the Library of Birmingham in the city center and reduce the remaining 34 community libraries to six, which would be “enhanced” with the “extended” schedule.

Campaigners from FOLIO (Friends of Our Libraries in Sutton Coldfield) group were out in force to support the Birmingham Loves Libraries campaign to stop council cuts (Image: Alastair Barnsley)

The third option is to go from 35 community libraries to 11 – including the Library of Birmingham in the city centre, which is open six days a week. This is believed to involve maintaining one open library per constituency. The remaining libraries could be run by volunteers and community groups.

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