ROATH and Adamsdown residents say they are are appalled at insufficient library provisions available to the community.
Since Roath Library closed in November 2014 following structural problems the area has been left without a library service as the council struggled to find the £250,000 needed to make the repairs.
Temporary measures were taken to house the library in Cardiff Royal Infirmary but local councillors and residents have criticised the service for not effectively catering for the needs of the community.
Adamsdown councillor Nigel Howells, who represents the Liberal Democrats, recently visited to temporary library and described the service as “awful”.
“Roath Library ceased in November 2014, and Roath and Adamsdown have been without a library for 16 months.
“Even though I acknowledge that the facility in the Royal Infirmary was just a temporary measure I went there the other day and it was awful.
“There was no librarian there, no green or white bags and the kiosk didn’t work.
“Roath Library used to be used by parent taking their children there after school, but in the Infirmary there isn’t even anywhere to sit down.
“Jobseekers used to use the library as well, and you had to wait to use a PC.
“Community facilities are being taken away from deprived areas of Cardiff and there seems to be a political agenda behind it.
“Facilities are being kept in the north of the city, but there should be a moral obligation to protect deprived areas of Cardiff.”
Adam Johannes, of the Cardiff People’s Assembly, echoed Mr Howells’ disappointment at the lack of progress regarding improving library services in the area.
“One of the most deprived areas of Cardiff has been denied a proper library service for over a year now.
“With the moving of another library in neighbouring Splott we now have a huge inner city area with no adequate library service.
“This is a disgrace – one in three children do not own a book, has the council thought about the impact on imaginations and aspirations in taking away this service from residents and families?
“It is extraordinary that Cardiff Council believes that 500 books, a self-service machine and no computers is an adequate replacement service for a library that held 16,000 books, 14 computers and the equivalent of three full-time staff.
“Incredibly the council has consistently maintained that there is no money to restore and reopen Roath Library in its former state while spending double the money needed on a brand new Library hub in the council leader’s ward.
“What is more concerning is the longterm plans for library services in area – it looks likely that the new library will just be a handful of books in the corner of a building, with no computers and no proper library staff.
“We have always argued that Roath Library should either be repaired and re-opened, or if not possible the same quality of service for residents provided on a new site.
“We also believe that libraries must be council-run and funded with trained paid staff. It is very alarming that the council is looking into handing Roath Library over to another group to use for other purposes with only part of our library building remaining a library ‘service’. ”
Splott resident Jessica Kelly, 32, thinks the services offered by libraries are very much needed in the area, which is one of the most deprived in Cardiff.
“I’ve been going to libraries for years and they are fantastic.
“I’ve benefited from them in so many ways during my life and don’t want to see that taken away from anyone else, especially in poorer areas – they are the sort of resources you can benefit from without spending any money.
Ms Kelly added that she since moved into the area she has seen very little progress with regard to library services: “I’ve lived in Splott for over two years, and in all the time I’ve been here I have seen no evidence of any further investment in the area just more and more cuts.
“It’s not one of the more well off areas of Cardiff, it’s an area that is crying out for investment and all that is happening is that more and more facilities are being taken away from the people who live here.
“I don’t desperately need access to a library but there’s a lot of people who aren’t that lucky and libraries can be a lifeline in a lot of situations.
“To have that taken away from an area that’s crying out for it is awful. It’s a huge issue – things have got really bad.”
The community has backed attempts to reintroduce library services to the area, and the Save Roath Library group was established to gather support for reopening the Newport Road building.
Alice Shing, 48, has been behind a lot of the initiatives aimed to boost support for the library and she feels let down by elected representatives who have not fulfilled their promises.
“I asked Cllr Bradbury at our last meeting in January to provide the details of mobile services provisions in Adamsdown, but he hasn’t provided the information.
“I also met Stephen Doughty MP in Westminster in February – he said he would write a letter of support regarding public libraries within a few days but this has not materialised.
“This adds to the impression of general apathy and being fobbed off when the public are asking them to help us fight before our libraries are gone.”
Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone has defended the current state of the library, saying: “It’s only a temporary solution, but people can still order books there if they cant find what they want.
“It’s something – I agree, it would be better if there was a computer there and I haven’t yet understood why that is, but something is better than nothing and it’s typical of the Lib Dems that they just want to attack everything.
“We’re hoping that the council will find a more permanent solution in the Old Chapel, next to the Royal Infirmary.
“I’ve been in the old chapel and it’s a much bigger size and has some lovely features, it would be a great place to house the library services for the area.”