Final push for anti-libraries closures campaign

Over 25,000 people across Lincolnshire have signed petitions against the closure of their libraries, as the County Council’s closure plans consultation ends.

Lincolnshire County Council plans to close 32 of 45 libraries in the county, leading to some 170 job losses, in order to obtain some £2 million savings.

More than 5,000 signatures for petitions have been handed in by campaigners on Monday, September 30, at County Hall in Lincoln.

The Assistant Headteacher of Priory Academy LSST in Lincoln, Nick Brown, also handed in 1,500 consultation forms filled in by pupils at the school.

More petitions for individual local libraries have been handed in previously, while an online petition gathered 3,009 names and 900 comments.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners also held a march through Lincoln on September 21, where around 400 people attended.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners handed in the last batch of petition signatures on September 30. Photo: File/The Lincolnite

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners handed in the last batch of petition signatures on September 30. Photo: File/The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire County Council also hosted its own consultation on the plans, which garnered around 3,500 responses.

In total, 30 communities have come forward to keep their libraries open using volunteer services, of which Lincolnshire Co-operative offered to save six libraries.

County Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “We’ve had some valuable feedback to date. Around 3,500 responses have been sent in, as well as a number of letters and emails.

“Despite the continuing decline in usage, we know there are still people who are passionate about libraries. And their views will be taken into consideration alongside those of everyone else who responds to our consultation.

“So far 30 communities have been in touch about taking on their local library, which suggests there is an appetite for getting more involved in running the service.

“The next stage will be to analyse the responses that have come in before a final decision is taken towards the end of the year.”

A scrutiny committee has been set for December 2, with the council’s Executive making a final decision on the matter on December 3.

Strong support for the anti-library cuts march in Lincoln on September 21, 2013. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Strong support for the anti-library cuts march in Lincoln on September 21, 2013. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Meanwhile, Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners spoke to Ian Stringer, who has been awarded a Honorary Fellow Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for services to mobile libraries around the world.

Ian Stringer commented on the planned closures for the county: “I have personally had to deal with shutting down libraries. In all cases this saved far less than anticipated. Making staff redundant can cost lots in redundancy payments.

“In my own case the final equation was that they actually paid me more in redundancy than I would have received in the last two years of my employment. They also incurred the costs of tribunals and medical examinations.

“On top of that a closed library doesn’t go away. If sold the profit goes into the estates department, if unsold the library service has to continue maintaining it and there’s no budget for it.”

He added: “Councils always think of cutting library staff to save money. They use volunteers to replace the library staff, but why not use volunteers to say clean the library, do the finances, handle human resources etc?

“When you see a library in a village next to a pub and say a post office, what makes it a library is the staff and books not the cleaners, plumbers, finance people. Keep the core people and get volunteers for the rest.”