Closure-threatened Bruton Library to stay open

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A threatened Somerset library has been given a stay of execution, until Christmas at least.

The Conservative-led county council was going to shut Bruton Library to save money but it does not own the building it is housed in.

The owners of the building, known as the Trustees of the Library, have now promised to pay for a librarian one day a week until Christmas.

More than 20 people have also offered to work there for free.

'Tearful and upset'

Councillor Anna Groskop, who approached the trustees to pay for a librarian, said: "A 90-year-old phoned me saying his social life revolved around the library, meeting people there and actually changing his books.

"He was quite tearful and quite upset because he felt we were taking away something he valued very much.

"I had to try and reassure him somehow I could help him."

She said she also put up posters asking for volunteers from Christmas onwards and had 26 replies.

Up to 1,500 jobs are to go at the council over the next three years due to a £75m budget deficit.

'Recruitment freeze'

Councillor Stephen Martin-Scott, cabinet member for strategy and communications, said retiring librarians were not being replaced.

"We didn't want to shut the library, what we've got is a recruitment freeze and inevitably a significant number of librarians are coming up to retirement age," he said.

"There are a lot of good people in Somerset who have perhaps got the time and inclination to do things the county currently does. One of them is run the libraries.

"We made a suggestion and the trustees of Bruton Library came forward. That's just the sort of thing we were looking for.

"Libraries across Somerset have a net cost of about £5.5m. That's a huge cost and we need to find a better way of doing it."

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