Seven libraries will shut unless Hove library moves to museum, says council

Posted On 27 Nov 2015 at 4:20 pm
By Roz Scott

Seven libraries will have to close unless Hove Library moves from its historic home in Church Road to the Hove Museum site in New Church Road.

The cost of trying to keep things as they are in the current financial situation was spelt out by a council official at a meeting last night (Thursday 26 November).

Residents were given the picture at the 107-year-old Carnegie library where they were reminded of the difference between the library building and the library service.

Hove Library

Hove Library

They were given details of the proposal to move Hove Library from the building – largely paid for by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie – into Hove Museum where an integrated service is planned.

Sally McMahon, head of libraries, said: “We will create a new cultural centre for Hove. It will be something new and exciting. There will be a modern extension to the historic Hove Museum building.

“We are not running down the service. We are being responsive to public demands. The library service will be enhanced. We will double the access while reducing our costs. We will make better use of our buildings.

“It is very difficult to continue to offer a library service in this building. It is a very expensive building, a listed building. The space is not suitable and there are no grounds. If we don’t move Hove library, we will have to close seven community libraries.”

Hove Museum is a building of interest and it is easier to get planning permission and make adaptations for it than for Hove Library which is a grade two listed building.

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick

The footprint of library users is changing, Ms McMahon said, with people accessing services online, studying, looking for jobs and reading the newspapers. These people are “invisible users” who don’t borrow books or use the computers. Many people want to use the space as well as the resources.

Ms McMahon said to the public: “We want you to use the library in the way you want to use it.”

She said integrated services that are co-located with other services such as at Woodingdean with a doctor’s surgery and at Portslade with a children’s centre fare much better than standalone libraries that are geographically isolated. Hove Museum has a temporary exhibition space which will be revamped.

The majority of lending is from the children’s room at Hove Library and the service must meet these needs. She said: “Children are consuming the library. Children already use the museum and will use it just as much.”

The space for children’s books and resources is limited at Hove library.

She added: “We will enhance the service with volunteers who are ‘expert library users’.” These volunteers may read to small children or visit people who are housebound. Anyone who would like to become a library volunteer should contact their nearest library.

Westbourne Councillor Tom Bewick said: “It is disappointing to hear residents who believe the library will close. The library is reinventing and reimagining what a cultural hub for this part of the town would look like. It will be reinvented for the 21st century with more access. There will be cultural events. We can invite artists to this cultural hub.”

If the proposals go ahead, the library is likely to move into the museum in 2018. Planning permission will be needed after another, separate consultation. The museum building will be refurbished and extended before the library moves in.

The proposals were outlined at the Central Hove Local Action Team meeting chaired by Central Hove councillor Clare Moonan.

An extensive pre-consultation needs analysis has been conducted, including focus groups and surveys, at Hove library.

A citywide consultation about changes to library services is now open which will last until Tuesday 16 February. Proposal five is about Hove library. Views can be submitted about the citywide consultation by collecting a questionnaire from your local library or online here.

A more detailed consultation specifically about changes to Hove library will follow soon.

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Extraordinay act of blackmail to make such a suggestion (headline!).

    Perhaps a new Hove Museum complex could be designed into the new King Alfred redevelopment complex and sell Brooker Hall back into domestic use to raise a good few £million.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Well, someone has to spell out to those wanting to keep the library services in this archaic Victorian building what the result will be if the supporters of ‘Save Hove Library’ (who seem to have no idea of the current economic situation) of keeping current services delivered from the current building would be.

      I guess there are other alternatives available than moving the services to the grounds of the museum, but how much would they cost? When would any savings be made?

      And I imagine another group would similarly complain if the current museum and art gallery were moved to the sea front, and I bet ‘Save Hove Library’ still wouldn’t be happy if library services moved anywhere else and they lost their beloved mahogany hand rails!

      • Mira Taylor Reply

        Hmm, Hove Library an archaic Victorian building? It was built in 1908. This new scheme proposes sticking the contents of a fully-fledged library into an even older building, a former Victorian villa (c1870’s) with numerous cramped small rooms. Don’t be fooled by the new extension proposal either–it is some kind of after-thought/sop to modernity, but will not solve the critical space issues. I see that you mention the wooden bannisters of the Carnegie building an awful lot. Are you hoping that the council will demolish the building so you can buy them (sawn up) and install them in the Wiley residence?

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    There was considerable disquiet at the, frankly hectoring speech which cllr Bewick was allowed to deliver.

    Let us hope that this does not encourage the Albion to have own-goals.

  3. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Christopher – would you like to own up to being the leader of ‘Save Hove Library’ who has been propagating all the misinformation about the closure of library services?

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      You keep saying this but at the meeting Sally McMahon said that she wished she did not have to be making the proposal. So there it is.

      A smaller library. In essence, a branch library.

      It is becoming clear across the country that public libraries, ever diminishing, will be gone from the landscape soon – and, with that, the principles of public involvement. Spirit of overs.

      I was looking through a book of Ronnie Barker’s scripts in the Library the other day, and find from Ronnie Corbett’s foreword that Barker used to submit scripts under the pseudonym of Gerald Wiley. I venture to suggest these were funnier than your screeds (and better paid).

      Perhaps you should pony up and tell us who you are.

      As for me, I could retreat here amidst all my books (which residents like looking at) but it seems to me that libraries are a cause which favours the common good.

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        Christopher – glad you finally identified the pen name I use. If you’d only used 21st century tools instead of your trusty quill pen, you might have found this out sooner.

        I use a pen name as my wife is worried that I might suffer retributions if my true identity was revealed, and if ‘push came to shove’ I would not have any qualms in doing so. However, for now, I am quite happy, like many of your fellow Green Party brethren who frequent these web pages, to use a pseudonym.

        Of course, if, like you I was a current, or past, councillor, or anyone pretending to me more than just an individual (such as Valerie) I would expect them to clearly identify themselves as such.

        As far as libraries are concerned I agree they are a ‘common good’ and I agree that they need to be protected – what we don’t need is to maintain everything in the state they have been for the past century and not allow the facilities to evolve.

        What is provide now from the Hove Library is nothing at all like was what envisioned at the start of the last century and I see no problem with having a more modern facility more suited to the internet age and those of the community.

        Why do you persist in trying to keep things always the same, and seem to be unable to grasp the concept that things have moved on?

        Why can’t you even consider that a new facility might be better for library services and the community it serves, and have an open, creative, mindset?

        • Christopher Hawtree Reply

          People have always said that if Hove were offered a better Library, that would be welcome.

          The proposal in 2003 was not that. Neither is the current one.

          A factor is the cost of the Brighton PFI deal (which is soon set to increase, with drop in Book Fund).

          • Gerald Wiley

            But you are still comparing what was proposed in 2003 with what is being proposed now and trying to create the impression that the new plan is just as bad – can’t you learn to ‘move on’ and cast a critical eye over the new scheme rather than wanting to get stuck in the past?

            So go on then – what would YOU consider to be a better Library for the residents of Hove?

            Or would it have to be in the same building in the same location and made of the same materials as the current library to meet your requirement that nothing should ever change as nothing could be better than what is currently provided?

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    What the article does not mention is that people at the meeting were aghast at cllr Bewick’s bizarre assertion about his children apparently running scared from the Library as they were glared at. He upset the staff and others by this surreal remark, which ran counter to Sally McMahon’s earlier comment that children love the place (something echoed by the many mothers with whom I have spoken, as I did twelve years ago).

    Meanwhile, word is that cllr Bewick is angling for the Labour leadership locally. I cannot help but feel that the way in which he upset people on Thursday evening by his presuming to take the floor to address residents, and then upsetting them with this remark, suggests his Party would be wise to have a re-think.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Christopher – sorry, but WTF has this got to do with the debate of whether the Hove Library services should move to the museum site. Please can you stay on topic, rather than continually disappearing off in to some strange world of spurious anecdotes.

      How do you know that children will NOT like the new facilities?

    • Mira Taylor Reply

      I agree. I think this is all very political. Cllr Bewick also mentioned the fact that his children took exception to the ‘fusty’ building. Well, according to the new scheme, the children’s library will be located in one of the larger ground floor rooms of the old Hove Museum, not in the smart new extension. So they may have issues about that 😛

  5. Mira Taylor Reply

    This article reads like a puff piece for the new scheme. Is it really money saving? Will it be a ‘cultural hub’ or just a glorified kindergarten/cafe for the well-heeled residents of Westbourne/Vallance area of Hove? The fairness commission should look into this–central Hove is being robbed of its cultural heritage. Hove Museum needs the space-defying interior of a TARDIS for this scheme to work and frankly I can’t see it happening, even with a smart glass cube attached. Comparing it to Welcome Collection/Pallant is ludricrous–we don’t have the same reserves of cash as these institutions. The council has failed to make a cultural hub out of the centrally located Carnegie building for decades, so I doubt they’ll make anything out of this new scheme–just a dog’s breakfast.

  6. Julie O'Neil Reply

    The proposal to move Hove Library into Hove Museum is a response to the council’s economic situation. The library service has to significantly reduce it’s budget to play it’s part in achieving the total savings which the council has to make, because of the large reduction in funding from central government. Hove Library, while a lovely building, is a money pit which the council can’t afford to maintain. If Hove Library doesn’t move to a cheaper building, the same amount of money will still have to be saved – equal to the cost of running seven, yes seven, community libraries per annum. That is the stark choice! Hove will not be without a library – the museum is a 5 minute walk away from the current library and the museum is not well used. By co-locating the library and museum it will benefit both services. I also have concerns about the size of the new extension, but by clever use of space, a well laid out integrated service, could be achieved. This could be a positive development if the people of Hove get behind it and use their skills and talents to help create the ‘cultural hub’ which Hove deserves. Hove Library has regularly put on events for both children and adults and could work with museum staff to offer a programme of events in the new ‘cultural hub’ if it goes ahead.

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