County councillors have today voted to go ahead with a controversial consultation over plans that coukd see libraries axed to save cash.
The council has drawn up plans to save almost £2 million by shutting some smaller libraries – including Kirton, Donington and Coningsby – and replacing them with either a reduced mobile service or by asking volunteers or outside bodies to take them over.
Today the executive decided to go ahead with a consultation on those plans, despite opposition, with members of a scrutiny committee last week recommending that the idea was ditched.
Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “The way in which libraries are used is changing, not just in Lincolnshire, but across the country. In Lincolnshire, 82 per cent of the population are not active borrowers, and book stock issued in the county in the last 10 years has dropped from 5 million to under 3 million.
“Smart phones, tablets, Kindles and new technology are changing the way we do things. The library service is changing, like it or not, and our vision for the future of the service is a comprehensive one, but one that remains both affordable and efficient.
“Despite the need for change, our ambition is to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open. However, this is only going to work with the support of our local communities.
“We will support residents and organisations that step forward and lend a hand. And by getting them more involved we think we can actually create a library service that’s better tailored to each community’s individual needs.
“Successful changes have already taken place at a number of libraries, such as Saxilby and Waddington, improving services and getting better value for money. There’s no reason why this won’t work elsewhere – providing that’s what local people want.
“A consultation will help us gauge whether that appetite is there. Whatever your views, it’s important you have your say.”
A report to members branded the current library service as ‘inefficient’ because 96 per cent of people in the county live within 30 minutes’ drive of a static libary.
The plan would cut the static library numbers by 32, with 170 posts axed.
For further details on the proposals and to take part in the consultation, please visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation. Alternatively, call 01522 782010. or pick up a copy of the questionnaire in a library.
The consultation runs until Monday 30 September 2013.