Library proposals are a ‘tragedy’

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LIBRARY proposals which could see the service run by unpaid volunteers from premises shared with organisations such as supermarkets would be a ‘tragedy’, local authors warn.

Skegness authors William Hussey and Margaret Dickinson have both condemned Lincolnshire County Council’s money saving suggestion threatening up to 260 jobs, which they fear represent a backward step for society with far reaching adverse consequences that will be hard to reverse.

William said: “It’s symptomatic of the cuts they are taking all over the place but I think they should think long and hard before they do it to something as important as this.

“The Victorians set up libraries believing that the free access to books and knowledge was a pivotal thing for the nation’s social, moral and spiritual well-being and yet now, we are watering this service down, which seems crazy to me.

“Reading is a civilising process which enables people to develop empathy for others and without empathy society becomes filled with bigoted and narrow minded views.

“I don’t think you can quantify the full effect this could have on society, to me it’s like shutting a cottage hospital They are not just a place to take out books, they are also a safe haven for many vulnerable and elderly people.”

Fellow author Margaret Dickinson has echoed William’s concerns for the service, which she fears could suffer irreparable damage through the proposed changes.

“Libraries have always been a great resource for people to gain access to knowledge, entertainment and education and it would be a tragedy if that was diminished in any way. With the best will in the world volunteers are not going to be able to offer the same service trained librarians can offer,” she said.

As regular library users for research purposes, both authors have praised the expert assistance they receive from librarians in Skegness and would hate to see any of those employees lose their jobs to be replaced with an inferior service.

The county council, which spends £6million a year on library services, claims towns in which changes have been implemented so far have seen improvements to services with longer opening times and a ‘dramatic increase in user numbers,’ while saving around £20,000 per site.

It has also assured library users that staff will continue to support sites to ensure service quality is retained and no changes will be implemented until community consultation on a site-by-site basis.