Proposals to scale down the number of static Lincolnshire libraries will move forward to public consultation, it was decided on July 2.
Due to cuts in funding, Lincolnshire County Councillors decided at an Executive Meeting to consult the idea of keeping just 15 out of 45 council-staffed libraries, moving more services online.
However, the other 30 static libraries will either move to part-time openings, staffed with more volunteers and community input, or closed completely in favour of a mobile service, operating 126 stops.
The move would cut £2 million off the council budget, but also lead to around 170 job losses.
The council argues that the fall in use of many libraries means the service no longer makes financial sense.
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% 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 misguided proposal’
Many local residents and campaigners are shocked at the news that the proposals are being moved forward by the council, and feel it is misguided, with councillors “ill-informed”.
Paul Stainthorp, spokesperson for the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign group, 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.”
The campaign, which has gained momentum of its various social media streams, argues that cutting the funding of 30 libraries would break the council’s legal obligation to provide a comprehensive service.
It also believes that other library services, such as PC and Internet use, has lead to an increase in people accessing their local library.
To have your say on the consultation, visit the Lincolnshire County Council website, pick up a questionnaire in your local library or call 01522 782010.
The consultation will run until September 30, 2013.