Libraries face axe to cut costs after chiefs brand them ‘inefficient’

Does the book stop here for Kirton Library?
Does the book stop here for Kirton Library?

Libraries could be axed as part of plans to save almost £2 million after council chiefs branded the current service ‘inefficient’.

Current libraries in Kirton, Donington and Coningsby could shut – with plans to either replace them with a reduced mobile service or ask volunteers or outside bodies to keep them on.

The council says its planned changes will net £1.938 million savings and promises it will still deliver a ‘comprehensive’ service – although with 170 posts lost.

It argues that new technology has contributed to a reduction in the need for borrowing books but villagers and a grammar guru have raised fears about the loss of services.

A report to councillors suggests the proposal will help in the face of ‘severe austerity’ – with potential for further bad news to come with today’s Government Comprehensive Spending Review announcement.

Library plans will be discussed by a Lincolnshire County Council scrutiny committee today (Wednesday) and its executive on Tuesday ahead of a consultation.

The report suggests 96 per cent of people in the county live within 30 minutes drive of more than one static library – arguing this is an ‘overlap’ and makes the current system ‘significantly inefficient’.

It states borrower numbers are falling, with two million fewer issues in the past 10 years – with technology and reading habits blamed for the drop.

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Data released to The Standard just last year may challenge the ‘decline’ in use. Figures showed that while numbers of books issued fell the number of new users at Kirton rose from 155 to 267 from 2006 to 2011 and from 131 to 154 in Donington.

Under the new-look service Boston Library will stay as a ‘tier 1’ facility, with a slight cut of hours from 54 to 50.

The library is due to leave its current location with the county council looking to move its services out of County Hall. A spokesman said a new home has not yet been chosen for the library.