Young readers protest proposed Barnet library cuts on World Book Day

By Julia Gregory in Politics

YOUNG readers are staging a protest outside a library which they claim could be out of bounds if proposed changes to Barnet’s library services go ahead.

The children dressed up as characters from the popular children’s Dr Seuss books for their protest outside East Finchley Library today on World Book Day.

They will be gathering outside the library in East Finchley High Road to draw attention to their concerns.

Campaigner Emily Burnham, whose three children use the library said: “We are staging the protest ahead of the council’s decision on the future of libraries on March 23.

She said parents were concerned that if proposals for “technology enabled opening” with reduced staffing got the go-ahead children would be excluded from using the libraries.

The library is currently staffed for 40 hours a week and under proposals which are being considered by the council this could be cut to 16 hours, with six hours when the library is staffed by volunteers. The library would open for a further 63 hours using the “technology enabled opening scheme.”

Ms Burnham said the under 16s would not be allowed in libraries if they were unstaffed for security reasons.

She said: “The large majority of school children do use the library on their own. As they get older they have ownership of the library and the right to use it. It’s a great space to learn to be independent.”

She said the library was also well used by children doing school work and as a study space in the run up to exam times, but feared they would no longer be able to use it if there were no staff.

The save Barnet Libraries campaign is looking at potential discrimination issues depending on the council’s decision on the future of libraries later this month.

In its consultation document issued last October the council said: “the technology allows customers to access the library when it is unstaffed, using their library card and a PIN number. Customers are also able to use the computers, the wireless internet service and to issue and return items during unstaffed hours.”

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