Lincolnshire County Council libraries consultation ends

Campaigners outside County Hall Campaigners handed over petitions at County Hall

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More than 20,000 people have signed petitions opposing cuts to Lincolnshire's library service which could see some branches close.

There are currently 45 static council-run libraries in Lincolnshire, but the county council wants volunteers to run 30 of them.

A consultation over the changes is due to end at midnight and the final paper petitions were handed over earlier.

The council said the library service needs to change to remain affordable.

It would continue to provide stock, funding of over £5,000 a year and ongoing professional support for all of the 30 libraries where staff would lose their jobs.

But the libraries could close if community groups or organisations do not come forward to replace the staff.

It is estimated that the changes would save about £2m.

Councillor Martin Hill, Conservative leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said the council had to take a "broad view".

He said: "Things like protecting children, things like highways maintenance are being protected, and I'm afraid things like libraries are being asked to take their share of the savings."

'Place for children'

Paul Stainthorp, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries, said libraries are "a force for good in society".

"They help with literacy; they are a safe place for children to study," he said.

Martin Hill Councillor Martin Hill said Lincolnshire County Council had to take a "broad view"

"They are a place where people can access online information, where people who might otherwise by very isolated in society can get access to information and services."

But John McTernan, who was chief librarian to the Labour Party from 1987 to 1992, said children and adults can access books in other ways now, such as from schools, on tablet computers or from second-hand book shops.

"The reality is that most ordinary people walk past a library on their high street every single day and don't go into it, and that's partly because they've got access to information themselves," he said.

"We've got one of the highest penetrations in the world of smart phones, and that smart phone in people's pockets gives them access to all the information that they need nowadays."

Up to 170 jobs could go if the proposals are approved, as the plans include reducing the number of posts from 298 to 128.

The consultation is due to end at midnight and a final decision about the libraries will be made by the council's executive members at a meeting on 3 December.

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