Review could see loss of 32 rural libraries

NEWS: The Gainsborough Standard
NEWS: The Gainsborough Standard
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Lincolnshire County Council is holding a public consultation on the future of library services which could see 32 rural libraries close and 170 jobs lost.

The initial proposal would mean that just 15 council-staffed libraries out of 47 would remain open.

The council hopes local communities will take over their local library or create their own, with support from the council.

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “The way in which libraries are used is changing, not just in Lincolnshire, but across the country. In Lincolnshire, 82 per cent of the population are not active borrowers, and book stock issued in the county in the last 10 years has dropped from five million to under three million.”

“Smart phones, tablets, Kindles and new technology are changing the way we do things. The library service is changing, like it or not, and our vision for the future of the service is a comprehensive one, but one that remains both affordable and efficient.”

But despite the need for change, he said the council’s ambition is to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open with support from local communities.

“We will support residents and organisations that step forward and lend a hand,” he said.

“And by getting them more involved we think we can actually create a library service that’s better tailored to each community’s individual needs.”

Campaign group Save Lincolnshire Libraries said it was appalled by the decision. It said cutting hours or getting volunteers to run libraries was not the way to increase book borrowing.

Group spokesman Paul Stainthorp said: “It’s the market towns and villages that will be hit hardest by library cuts.”

“You may be lucky enough to end up with ‘only’ a half-hour bus ride to the nearest council-run library - the county council thinks this should be good enough for you.”

“But for many people, the rising cost of travel means that a visit to the library will become an occasional luxury.”

He said people who give of their time and enthusiasm freely can be the ‘lifeblood’ of local areas.

“But ask existing library volunteers in Lincolnshire, and they’ll tell you they can only do what they do with the help of professional library staff working alongside them in the library building,” he said.

“Volunteers are no substitute for professional library staff who can answer complex questions, and who can be trusted to look after library users’ personal information and protect their privacy.”

For details and to take part in the consultation, visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation, call 01522 782010 or pick up a copy of the questionnaire in your local library.

The consultation runs until Monday 30th September.