The first set of Lincolnshire libraries to close and reopen as ‘community hubs’ has been confirmed, with the first preparing for an open day at the end of this month.
As reported previously, Lincolnshire County Council approved plans to cut the number of libraries from 45 to 15, with the remainder being transformed into community-run hubs with 10 others.
The plans, which also included putting the 15 libraries out to tender, are expected to save around £1.7 million each year.
With plans still being finalised for most allocated community groups, most will be up and running between July 1 and September 30.
Ermine library and Birchwood library will be the first in Lincoln to make the transition to a volunteer-led service.
The facilities will close on August 3 and reopen as community hubs on August 17.
The first four with dates confirmed are:
The community hubs would receive ongoing professional support, and around £5,000 per year towards their running costs and access to a one-off grant of up to £15,000 for changes to buildings or equipment.
Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “Under our plans for the library service, all the proposed community hubs would be up and running between July 1 and September 30.
“We have a few hubs that are ready to go-live in the next few weeks, with the rest following over the summer months in a phased approach.
“This is the most sensible way forward, and will undoubtedly mean a smoother transition for everyone, including library users.
“We are in contact with the groups, and the full timetable is currently being firmed up. Details will be published as they become available.
“To enable this to take place there will be a brief change-over period at each site. During this time, services can be accessed at the nearest alternative library.
“The community hub approach will give local people greater control over their services.
“However, we’ll be giving them a helping hand to bring their plans to fruition.
“Not only will these groups receive ongoing professional support, they will also be given over £5,000 per year towards their running costs.
“I’m sure these new facilities will be of real benefit to their local community.”
Second judicial review possible
Campaigners have battled the plans once before, criticising the loss of around 100 jobs and seeing previous proposals quashed in High Court.
The costs of the proposals so far have also been flagged as exceeding £720,000, including pension and redundancy payouts to library staff.
A hearing is set to take place in London on July 21 and 22 after the Save Lincolnshire Libraries group requested a second judicial review into the decision.
Some 60% of people who took part in a poll on The Lincolnite disagreed with the cuts to save £1.7 million a year.