I finally got round to putting in a FOI request to Oxfordshire County Council to get the CIPFA returns and the book issues for the period since 21 of the libraries were designated non-statutory. I've not contacted any of the friends groups but I know from people who are actually friends and from some media reports that in some cases, rather than lose the staffing hours the council were cutting, some parish councils stepped in with cash, like in Bampton where they film a TV show about posh people in the old days that I believe is very popular. But I don't have any detail on what each of the friends groups are doing to try and mitigate the loss of funding. On the whole, just looking at the static libraries (excluding the central library which has been shut for a while and only recently reopened), the picture is pretty grim. Book issues down 25% in the period between 2011/12 and 2016/17 for the statutory libraries. But for the non-statutory it's even worse, they have decreased by 34%. When the publishing industry is having record years for sales of physical books and the sales of e-books flattening out, you'd think libraries would be having a second wind, but in Oxfordshire, clearly not. Is it poor marketing, poor book choice, poor buildings? I honestly don't know, but something isn't right. I do also have the CIPFA returns for the period and will look into that data further and see if there are any conclusions we can draw from them.
The FOI data is here and here
Monday, 15 January 2018
I don't know, I was expecting more/better for some reason. The data is lacking any unique identifiers and the quality of the data doesn't seems patchy. I presume some library authorities didn't return all the fields. I hope they do continue though, the only way to get the true picture of what's happening is to track over time the numbers on the volunteer libraries, staffed hours etc and in a ideal world, book issues for the libraries. But since the taskforce can't compel them to collect or collate this data and the political masters won't want us to see the decline anyway, I expect it won't happen.