We are heading for a volunteer overload situation

Lincolnshire’s #BigLibraryMarch

The following is a press statement from The Lincolnshire Independents:

The Lincolnshire Independents are disappointed by the comments made by the leader of the County Council Cllr. Martin Hill regarding those communities who have not come forward and responded to the bully boy tactics of the council plans to close their libraries. 

Cllr Hill has made much of the expressions of interest that could keep open 24 libraries under sole volunteer operation and at the same time belittled the remaining 6 who have not.

It should be pointed out that no expressions of interest would have been forthcoming if the communities were not having their arms twisted up their backs by threats to close these much loved community hubs that village and community libraries clearly are.

Perhaps the 6 communities that have not submitted have studied the costs involved, perhaps the 6 have thought about the sustainability of volunteers, perhaps the 6 have thought about what happens when the sweetener money dries up in a few years, perhaps the 6 do not want to put people out of work, perhaps the 6 have their eyes open wide.

The consultation clearly says that people want their libraries professional and only grudgingly except volunteer run libraries because they don’t want it to close or have an inadequate mobile service. This is all without there being an option on the consultation to say this but still people made it absolutely clear by utilising space on the form to comment.

Cllr Steve Palmer Lincolnshire Independent councillor spokesman on Libraries and Culture said, “I am an ex “Librarian” and a volunteer in one of my local Libraries that have not expressed an interest because to a man and woman we are not convinced we can raise the money every year to pay for the running costs of this library and while we are prepared to assist professional staff or to run the library extra hours as we do now, and have been for the last two years, we also have the experience enough to know what would be required of us to run the whole kit and caboodle”.

Continuing he said, “Most of the volunteers are retired and with the best will in the world retired people will do what they feel comfortable to do and no more.”

Summing up Steve further stated, “We are heading for a volunteer overload situation and authorities need to realise that volunteers can only do so much and to replace and put people out of work by volunteering to take their jobs is morally unacceptable however saying that we have a meeting set up to discuss the issue further after the new proposal announcement on the 22nd of November”

Here are some examples of figures of the costs involved in running a community library to the standard expected by the County Council Library Service. These are just premises costings and does not include repairs and refurbishment figures and it is unclear whether I.T. costings are included but we think they are not at present.

Sutton on Sea £8,406
Alford £11,827
Boultham £27,760
Birchwood £34,686
Ermine £24,064
Deepings £19,646
Nettleham £18,600
Branson £8,305
North Hykeham £15,522
Welton £15,693
Crowland £12,923
Holbeach £12,703

These are just examples obtained under the freedom of information act and are budget figures for 2013/14.

Cllr. Marianne Overton Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents says, “We have an alternative proposal which keeps all static libraries and most of the mobiles professionally run, supported by volunteers. This is even within the new diminished budget. The premises costs are manageable within a large council budget, but are a huge mountain for volunteers to find, consistently year on year. This is in addition to all of the pressures already weighing heavy on the limited pools of voluntary support in our communities. People have been brilliant in demonstrating their support for libraries by coming forward at this time. The business plans have yet to be written to show what is possible and what is not.”

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One thought on “We are heading for a volunteer overload situation

  1. . . . and of course the council remain legally obliged to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service to all Lincolnshire residents (and students and workers) who wish to make use of it. Statutory requirement. Free at the point of use. No argument. Present library staff, instructed to save £2m, came up with these proposals but it is clear that respondents to the survey don’t think the proposals do constitute a comprehensive service. The point is arguable, no doubt – in court, perhaps?

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