'Lovely library but where are the books?'

First published in News by

Librarians say there are not enough books at a £14 million award-winning library.

Councillors have also received complaints about the collection at Brighton's landmark Jubilee Library, while staff at other libraries in the city said they too wanted better collections.

A survey of city library staff revealed their number one priority was to "improve collections". Staff are also demanding more books on the shelves and longer opening hours.

The questionnaire was discussed at the city council's culture and tourism sub-committee last night.

Councillor Kevin Allen said: "People feel the Jubilee Library is a lovely building but say where are the books?'.

"The stock is inadequate and radical steps need to be taken to upgrade it and we need to have a proper discussion about it."

The complaints echo those made when the library was first opened in early 2005.

Visitors were dismayed at the lack of books and the fact opening hours were shorter than they were 70 years ago.

Coun Bill Randall said he was regularly approached by residents of Hanover ward complaining about the lack of access to the library in the evenings and on Sundays.

He said: "Everything else is open on Sundays so why not the library? Some also want to use it at the beginning of the weekend on Friday evenings."

He said he believed longer hours would mean having to pay the PFI company more money, which could not be found.

About 350 questionnaires were given to staff and others, including councillors, council directors, university librarians and community groups.

While staff were concerned about the number of books, others believed "wider participation in learning" was most important. Community groups wanted the library to be a "centre for community activity" and "access point for other services", whereas library staff wanted to maintain its traditional role.

Coun Randall said he believed it was possible to keep library traditions and move with the times. He said: "We're learning now that the great trick is getting more than one use out of a building."

A new libraries plan will be available from January and will be debated at the next committee meeting on February 7.

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