At a time when our local public libraries are under increasing and serious threat due to national and local government cuts, it is essential that we give them and their staff as much support as possible, to help ensure that we do not lose these vital educational, community and leisure facilities.
The Bloxidge Tallygraph is a tireless supporter of libraries in Bloxwich and district in particular, and now extends that support to other libraries in Walsall and beyond.
We hope our readers will feel the same, and to help you support libraries this page aims to publicise and encourage the use of local public libraries. It also provides details of Bloxwich area libraries and general links to information for Walsall area libraries.
One of the best ways to support our public libraries is to use them, and keep them busy! If you are not already a member - why not join up this week, and get the rest of your family to join too - the more the better!
There is also a section below containing suggestions on how you can help save our endangered public libraries. Please help support local libraries - before we lose them!
The British government has substantially cut the grants it gives from our taxes to support local authorities - Walsall Council is one such authority which has had its budget cut severely. The Council is having to make significant cuts in services, buildings, personnel and other costs across the board to try and compensate for this budget cut enforced upon them.
Walsall Council's Cabinet feels that closing or changing the running of public libraries is an acceptable solution to part of its budget problems. Its announced intention is to cut, by closing or privatising in some way, six branch libraries from the total of sixteen. We are told that these libraries have not yet been chosen, and any potential closures will not take place until 2012.
The past impression given was that all libraries are under review, but it seems clear that only the smallest libraries are potentially at risk, probably: Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pheasey, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall, Streetly, Walsall Wood.
The public at large do not in general believe that the closure of such important community facilities is either appropriate or acceptable. In many cases it is felt that this is an act of cultural vandalism and wilful destruction of our heritage. Others think that this will significantly reduce the quality of life in often neglected parts of the borough. In any case, the closure of libraries will not result in the handing back of Council Tax payments to the taxpayer, and therefore taxpayers will lose out twice when a library closes. It will also make loyal and hard-working library staff unemployed.
If you believe that the closure of significant numbers of our hard-earned and educationally and socially important public libraries is unacceptable, you may wish to consider doing something about it.
How can you help to save our libraries? There are a number of possibilities:
Direct complaints or questions
You may wish to complain or ask questions of any or all of the following people - please be polite when writing!
The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Gary Clarke: Cllr Clarke's contact details.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Mike Bird: Cllr Bird's contact details.
Cllr Anthony Harris, Portfolio holder, Leisure, Culture & Environment: Cllr Harris's contact details.
Walsall Council Cabinet Members: Walsall Cabinet Members contact details.
Sue Grainger, Head of Libraries & Heritage, c/o Walsall Council, The Civic Centre, Walsall,
West Midlands, WS1 1TP.
Your local councillor: Walsall Councillors contact details.
In the case of Councillors and Cabinet Members, use the address given in their contact details. Letters can also be handed in to libraries for forwarding, or via the Civic Centre, but this will take longer.Members of Parliament
Although the closure of libraries is a local authority matter, you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament about the issue. In the case of Bloxwich and district (part of Walsall North constituency) this will be Mr. David Winnick, MP, whose details may be found via this link.
In all cases, we recommend that you write by post rather than email, and keep a copy of your letter. If you do not get a response, you may wish to telephone and/or email as a follow-up. Make your opinions and concerns clear. Be polite, but firm. Remember - we want their support for libraries, not to turn them against libraries!
Find out if your friends and neighbours agree with you, and encourage them to write as well! The more people who communicate an opinion against library closures, or generally in support of libraries, the more likely it is that those opinions will be taken into account, especially with the May local elections coming up.
Complaints via the local Press
As well as the above, you may wish to write also to the local newspapers' letters pages about the situation. In this case, email is the preferred mode, for speed, linked below.
Complaints via local Blogs
Local bloggers have been vociferous in their support for local libraries and against the cuts in general. You may like to contact a blogger and make them aware of your opinions.
Protests, Petitions and Publicity
You will not be allowed to protest inside libraries. Please do not ask the staff to take part in protests, help with petitions or promote these activities as they will not be allowed to do so.
You are entirely at liberty to protest, within the law and peacefully, in public places - this includes the pavement outside libraries. Likewise to organise and present a petition.
Anything you do - please do it safely, and don't give the police a reason to move you on!
Organising a Petition
Anyone can organise a petition, which has to have a minimum of 10 signatories, for presentation to Walsall Council. There is however a specific procedure for petitions both written and online which Walsall Council is required to adopt and which it has published on its website.
It is essential that you read this procedure before planning your petition, as the process and requirements are important. There are full details in Word format on the Council website, as well as a link intended to facilitate an e-petition. Follow this link: Walsall Council Petitions.
If you do organise a protest or petition, make sure it gets good publicity - it will be more effective that way.
Contact the local newspapers by telephone (see below) via their Newsdesk and invite them to send a photographer and a reporter. TV news is unlikely to be interested unless you have someone famous taking part.
Churches Together in Walsall - have a campaign against the cuts in Walsall. Details via this link.
ALSO - see under 'Save Libraries - Current Action' below, for links to petitions etc currently active.Email, Blogging and Twitter
Consider your own campaign via email, blogging and Twitter. But make sure people know about it!
Useful links - including News, Twitter and blogs at the national level.
It is necessary to point out that the information and any comments in this section and in The Bloxidge Tallygraph overall are not those of the Walsall Libraries service or Libraries & Heritage, or any member of staff and that they should not be inferred or attributed thereto.
Action to protest against the closure of local libraries is being taken in various quarters which may be of interest to our readers. Whether you wish to participate is up to you to decide. Links to this action online are so far as follows:
Central Library & Museum, Lichfield St, Walsall
Some useful general links which apply to all public libraries in Walsall Metropolitan Borough.
Bloxwich Library is the main public library for Bloxwich and district, and also includes Bloxwich Library Theatre. The library/theatre complex (now dubbed 'Bookmark Bloxwich' by Walsall Council) was opened 1960-64 and underwent major refurbishment in 2009-10.
It is the cultural hub for the area and is unique in the metropolitan borough of Walsall.
Location: Elmore Row, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 2HR.
Telephone 01922 655900.
|Tuesday||9am - 6pm|
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|Saturday||9am - 4pm|
Beechdale Library is located in the popular and important Frank F. Harrison Community Centre, bult around the 1990s on the Beechdale Estate, Leamore, Walsall, which is a former council estate. It is closely associated with Bloxwich Library, as Beechdale is with Bloxwich.
Being one of Walsall's smaller branch libraries, its opening hours are more limited than at Bloxwich.
Location: Stephenson Square, Beechdale Estate, Walsall WS2 7DX
Telephone 01922 655890
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|Wednesday||9am - 1pm||2pm - 5.30pm|
|Friday||9am - 1pm||2pm - 5.30pm|
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Events at the Library
Blakenall Library, Blakenall Village Centre
Blakenall Library is situated at Blakenall Heath, in the Blakenall Village Centre built as part of the Walsall's New Deal Project in 2000. Blakenall Heath, often referred to as simply Blakenall, is a former hamlet, later largely 1920s-30s council estate, which has since passed into a mix of private and housing association ownership.
It is closely associated with Bloxwich Library, as Blakenall Heath is with Bloxwich. Being one of Walsall's smaller branch libraries, its opening hours are more limited than at Bloxwich.
Location: Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Road, Blakenall, Walsall WS3 1LZ.
Telephone 01922 714967
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|Tuesday||9am - 1pm||2pm - 6pm|
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Central Library, Lichfield St, Walsall
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council currently operates 16 public libraries, serving a total population of around 250,000 people in several towns and villages.
Their official web page (linked below) contains links to all the details you will need to visit and become a member of each of these libraries.