No appetite for library cuts in Lincolnshire

People across Lincolnshire are appalled by the county council’s plans to cut public library services.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries is a group campaigning against library cuts across the whole county.

We’re disappointed that on the 2nd of July, the county council executive ignored the advice of its own scrutiny committee and continue with this misguided proposal.

In particular, we were appalled that not a single councillor in the meeting was prepared to stand up for statutory library provision – instead, councillors made ill-informed statements along the lines of “children don’t have a love for books any more” and began to discuss exactly how they plan to allocate funding to volunteer groups.

We can’t see how the council can remove all funding from 30 public libraries without breaking their legal obligation to maintain a “comprehensive” service.

We’ve received messages of support from hundreds of Lincolnshire people who are shocked at the destructiveness of the council’s proposal.

Of course, we want to reverse the declining trend in book borrowing. But cutting library hours or handing the building over to volunteers is not the way to achieve this.

Books are only part of the story, and the total number of “interactions” with Lincolnshire library services – including PC and Internet use, and people who visit libraries but do not borrow books – has increased over the past decade, according to the council’s own figures.

Paul Stainthorp, a spokesperson for the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, 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.”

Instead, volunteers will be invited to run libraries for a minimum of six hours a week. We know that 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. Vague promises of “support” from 40 or 50 miles away in county hall aren’t the same thing at all.

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.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries will continue to make the case that Lincolnshire needs better libraries than the council seems to think it deserves.

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