Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book Burning for Beginners

How interesting to read in Thanet District Council's rag "Thanet Matters" a piece entitled "Serving you better" which suggests that borrowing books isn't what folk really expect from a library. On a roll it goes further to claim what we actually want is a community library we can all be proud of. Pulling back from using those dreaded words "public consultation" it tells of asking people for their ideas and people chatting to customers in both the council's reception and Margate library. It all sounds terribly exciting and progressive.
The reality is slightly different. TDC is tired of having us, the great unwashed, cluttering up the entrance to their offices especially when they're all suited, booted and guiding inward investors around. They've come up with the terrific wheeze of taking over a sizeable part of the existing library for dealing with the public, particularly those claiming Housing Benefit.

Prepare to say goodbye to the Gallery Area which has shown hundreds of great shows for decades, shelves of books and many other vital features of an outstanding service with the most dedicated staff you'll find in any county council service.
Decimating such a service openly is wrought with difficulties, hence the suggestion of consulting the public. Additionally they've employed the powerful management technique known to most as bullying. Members of staff have been threatened to prevent them revealing any details of this scheme. It's a done deal.
Little wonder the council spend so much money on publishing, both "Thanet Matters" and "The Isle" are handy media vehicles for them. Having editorial control means they can use our cash to mislead us at best or in the case of the library tell us carefully constructed fictional tales. Soon these works are likely to be the only fiction available to the public.


Blogger Cllr David Green said...

May I say, that I agree absolutely.
This scheme was cooked up between Cllr Ezekiel, leader of Thanet Council and the leadership of KCC. The money they used was so called "second homes money" (money that KCC pocketed by removal of tax relief on second homes.
By using this, they avoided scrutiny at TDC of what they were up to.
Why Margate's KCC councillorshave let them get away with it, I dont know?
KCC are doing exactly the same dumbing down exercise in Ramsgate, though in this case they are taking advantage of the fire to strip the library of Gallery, Museum and Local resources room.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Artyblartfast said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment councillor.
I hadn't heard of the plans for Ramsgate library, they sound equally unacceptable and deliberately underhand.
For me the most worrying aspect is the loss of exceptional provision of art shows, which both libraries have delivered for decades long before arts regen was fashionable. This have included both internationally appreciated, and local artists.
Also worrying is the damage done to a hard working staff, they've consistantly delivered great service only to be stripped to a skeleton staff.
The cynic in me concludes that there's a deliberate attempt to lower the crossbar, to make every part of civil life as poor as as the lowest department.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Iain said...

As a somewhat annoying youth I was refused the opportunity to learn art at school, mainly because I was outspoken and perhaps as my friends and I were intimidating en masse.

So, I undertook my own education in art in the gallery at Margate Library, sucking in and critiquing any show that happened to be up: be it historic photography or local watercolours. It also encouraged me to visit the library -- a refuge away from those who thought the arts and literature were, well, a bit wet.

It was an inspiring place for an aspirant young man with an eye on the artistic. If it were not for this space it is unlikely I would be writing on the arts for national newspapers. At that time it was the only public gallery in the town and I suppose that it still is.

Having also worked in a benefits office I can assure you that the addition of this to a wonderful space will suck the lifeblood from it. I am a firm believer in the 'genus loci' or 'spirit of place' and this will certainly do nothing for the positive in the library. Rather, it will become a place more associated with strife, arguments and depressing bureaucracy rather than a place that shows how learning can be an enjoyable and life-improving thing.

If this truly is the plan of TDC then it is a very obvious piece of profligate idiocy. I am just one example of a Margatonian who would have been all the poorer culturally were this gallery space not have been available and connected so closely with literature. I am sure there are many more. And will be far too be many more should this happen.

(By the way, Philip, do keep up with the great entries).

12:37 PM  
Anonymous worm said...

Thank you for posting this. It's about time the public knew what was going on.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The public consultation is a lie. There is no intention of taking any notice of what the public want. Is there ever?
It is indeed a done deal. Interview rooms for Housing benefit claimants will be in the main part of the library including upstairs in the reference section.
The library itself will lose a third of its floor space. Books in the reserve store are already being disposed of in order to prepare for this loss of space.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a crying shame!i went into the library recently and wondered why they had limited stock of fiction and non fiction.why is this allowed ther should be more not less for this valuable resourse...

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Lord Matt said...

I just read about this issue over at and I have to say I am utterly shocked.

Do they think that the "great unwashed" don't need things like reading and writting?

No wonder the council is the worst in the country.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

We have no opened a email campaign where you can write a message to ALL the people that can make a difference.

Let's put an end to this silliness.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I have been doing a little digging. It seems that Cllr David Green may have actually voted positivly on this issue.

See the full story here:

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify, what I actually said to Matt was that Cllr Elizabeth Green and David Greens labour colleagues on the KCC Local Board had voted in favour, indeed Cllr Clive Hart has written in the newspaper today - Friday - telling tales of his recent tour of the proposed changes. Cllr David Green is not a County Councillor - we must simply presume he never talks to his wife, Cllr Elizabeth Green! I have forwarded additional information to Matt in the post. Local questions should be addressed to Cllr Zita Wiltshire. I am trying to get the KCC Area LIbrary Manager to come and address an autumn KCC local board meeting to explain in public the whole project.

Chris Wells
KCC Councillor Margate and Cliftonville

10:51 AM  
Anonymous worm said...

That should be very interesting.

11:38 AM  

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