Campaign opposes library changes

A CAMPAIGN group has formed in opposition to proposals for volunteers to run library services out of premises shared with businesses such as supermarkets or pharmacies.

The Friends of Lincolnshire Libraries believe Lincolnshire County Council’s money saving initiative would result in a downgrading of the service with widespread adverse social consequences, affecting the community’s most vulnerable.

One of the group’s founding members, the Skegness and Wainfleet Labour Party branch chairman Brenda Futers, recently attended the council’s executive board meeting at which the proposals were discussed and was disappointed by what she heard. She said: “I think the council is not listening to the community’s views and I fear their consultation exercise is going to be very limited - they didn’t even discuss the letter I sent outlining our concerns.”

Fearing the proposals could be implemented in Skegness without sufficient opportunity for the public’s concerns to be raised, Mrs Futers has been visiting local groups which regularly use the library to explain the changes and why she opposes them.

The Skegness U3A were the first group to welcome Mrs Futers for an informative talk last week.

With many of its members holding regular meetings at the library and yet more using its facilities to carry out research, the group were highly concerned to hear of any potential downgrading to the service.

Speaking after the meeting, branch secretary Jan Ward said: “I realise that in the current financial situation cuts have to be made to keep within the budget, but it’s very sad that library facilities, which currently provide a wonderful service across the board to all levels of the community, could be cut.”

Mrs Ward fears that the U3A will be unable to continue hosting its meetings at the library if the premises were to be shared with supermarkets or pharmacies. She also also fears that volunteers will be unable to provide the same level of service as fully-qualified librarians.

LCC maintains that volunteers already perform many library duties and will be sufficiently trained to ensure services will not diminish. Whereas budget constraints elsewhere in the country have resulted in the closure of libraries, LCC has expressed its commitment to retain the service, although is said changes were required to make it affordable. It has also assured library users that changes will be considered on a case by case basis and will not take place without consultation.