Lincolnshire County Council proposes major library cuts

Lincolnshire County Council Lincolnshire County Council aims to save £2m in its library services budget

Major changes are being proposed for Lincolnshire's library services in a bid to save £2m from the county council's budget.

The number of static libraries under the authority's control would fall from 47 to 15.

The council said it wanted to maintain libraries by encouraging rural communities to take over some services.

However, local author Helena Pielichaty said "a library run by volunteers is just somewhere you borrow books from".

A full consultation on the proposals is expected to take place from early July until the end of September.

'Not active borrowers'

Two-tier library system

  • Under the proposals, a group of core libraries would be created that would be open up to 50 hours a week
  • The 10 "tier one" libraries would be located in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston, Spalding, Gainsborough, Stamford, Skegness, Louth, Sleaford, and Mablethorpe
  • Tier two libraries would be located in Bourne, Market Rasen, Horncastle, Long Sutton and Woodhall Spa
  • In a bid to encourage more locally-run libraries, communities would be offered £5,167 a year to help them to operate a library, plus up to 4,000 books and a single payment of £15,000 for building works or equipment
  • Another option would allow a mobile library to visit a community once every two weeks

A council report said its library services were "comprehensive" but "inefficient".

Councillor Nick Worth said: "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 five million to under three million.

"New technology is 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."

On the subject of how many possible jobs losses there could be Mr Worth said: "It's too early to say at the moment.

"We've got a very long consultation period ahead and it will depend on what expressions of interest come through."

About 300 people are employed in the county's library service.

Children's author Pielichaty said the country was already falling behind in standards of literacy and staffing libraries with volunteers would only make the situation worse.

"With the best will in the world, the things a librarian does are irreplaceable," she added.

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