Lincs County Council’s executive has approved plans for a new-look library service.
The proposals were recommended by officers in light of changes in the way libraries are used and the authority’s substantially reduced budget.
Under the plans, the council will continue to provide 15 major libraries, along with online services, mobile libraries and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library because of, for instance, disability, age or ill health.
These will be complemented by up to 40 community hubs, including library services, developed in partnership with local community groups. Not only will these groups receive ongoing professional support, they will also be given over £5,000 per year towards their running costs and access to a one-off grant of up to £15,000 for changes to buildings or equipment.
The council will continue to run the existing libraries in these areas until 30th September giving volunteers plenty of time to lay firm foundations for the new community hubs to be developed.
The new look service will mean that Gainsborough library will be open for at least 45 hours per week over six days, closing at 6pm at least one day.
The library will offer free access to computers and the internet, along with other services including printing.
In addition, the authority will undertake a competitive procurement to seek an external organisation to potentially deliver library services on its behalf, including the support for the community hubs.
This follows an approach by Greenwich Leisure Limited, a not-for-profit organisation interested in running local libraries and it is likely to take until the end of 2015 before a final decision is reached on who will run the service.