Save Burnage Library

Burnage library opened in 1974, replacing the previous, fire damaged library. Since then, it has provided the community with an essential service for learning and leisure and has maintained a central position in the community as other council services have eroded over the years.

Locally, it is the last surviving public council facility, which provides an essential resource for young and old alike and we are fighting to stop its merciless closure. Please lend your support our campaign and help keep Burnage library open!

Campaign meetings are public and take place at Burnage Community Centre on Wednesday evenings, 6pm - 8pm until the decision on the consultation on the 17th April 2013.

Sign the online petition at;

Alternatively, sign the petitions at the health centre, library and other outlets and don't forget to like our Facebook page at:

Friday, 1 March 2013

A polite request...

Photo: Babies, young children and parents who use Burnage Library every week.  (28th February 2013).

Welcome to the Save Burnage Library Blog.  A space to share ideas, links and comments on the proposed closure of Burnage Library as part of Manchester City Council's Library Strategy.

I hope we can share some non-partisan, balanced and constructive views about the future of Burnage Library, and the other libraries threatened with closure, which serve some of the areas of highest need in the city.

To kick off with, however, here's my motivation for wanting a statutory run, local, well equipped library.   She's at the back of the photo above, she's 10 months old, and for the past eight months she's been a member of Manchester Library.   She attends a 'Rhythm and Rhyme' group every Thursday, and then babbles to the librarians who help her take her books out on her library card.   She then reads them at home with her mum and dad.

While she's doing these things, her parents (who are otherwise stuck in the house without a car) get to walk to a weekly event and meet a diverse group of other local parents, to chat about the challenges and the fun times of having a small child.

If we lived in Didsbury, or Chorlton, we could do this at the library, in any number of coffee shops, at the SureStart centre in the leafy Didsbury park.... In Burnage, we have the library, and we're extremely happy with the service it provides.   But let's be clear: there is NO OTHER leisure provision in this area.   No coffee shops, no restuarants, no soft-play facilities.

As she grows, I'd like to encourage my daughter to read, and to read widely.  To borrow books.  To understand that there are professional people who manage and look after books, and whose job it is to share the power of those books  (the power to educate, enrich, entertain) with everybody.   I look forward to that conversation with her. 

What I don't look forward to explaining is why her library has gone.  Not 'replaced' by an unsustainable, amaeteur version squashed into a nearby community centre, but gone, along with the community of people it brought together everyday, to chat, make friends, support each other.   

I don't look forward to explaining why her little friends who live in Didsbury, Chorlton, Gorton, or Hulme DO have a library they walk to every week.   We could take two buses to get there,  £3.90 a time, rising to who knows what by the time she's 5.    But in all likelihood, we won't bother.

She won't become illiterate.  She won't become isolated.  She'll still read books, bought by us and the rest of her family. But, what is sadder than this, is that she won't grow up with the understanding that the world beyond her home VALUES reading, learning, and mutual support in your local community.   She won't understand that we all pay taxes towards a range of services that benefit EVERYONE equally.  

And she won't mix with a wonderfully diverse cross section of her local neighbours, from the very young to the rather older.  For some of these fellow library users, future reading difficulties, and acute isolation, are both very real prospects.   This is what people have really been talking about, and worrying about, at recent meetings.  Not by tubthumbing or shouting, but talking quietly and with genuine anxiey, in little huddles at the side of the room.  

I hope we can talk construcitvely about future options, and about where the money comes from.  There isn't a simple solution, and I don't believe anyone involved WANTS to close libraries in areas of high need.   I also support many of the things Manchester City Council has invested in.  It's a fantastic city.  I love Manchester International Festival.   I love the fact we have a Literarture Festival, not just in central Manchester but in Chorlton too,  which the Council has support financially for several years. I don't disagree with the aim of positioning Manchester as a high-profile destination for pop concerts, or for those interested in football history.

But I do think, at a time of serious financial pressure, you need to think carefully about prioritasation.  And for me, some reasonable  criteria would be NEED,  and FAIRNESS.  

I will accept whatever decision is reached, and try to find at least some positive alternatives for my family, and local area

But, if the council DO decide to go ahead and close the library, I would ask a small favour of Councillors Richard Leese,  Sue Murphy, Jeff Smith, and colleagues.

Could you please draft a set of reasons, in words not too long, to help me explain your decision (and the values it implies) to my young daughter and to the other children in this photo? 

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