Plea for volunteers to keep Wiltshire's libraries open

Volunteers are being asked to help keep all the libraries in Wiltshire open as local councils try to protect services threatened by cutbacks.

Wiltshire Council said it was looking for "innovative ways" to retain all 31 libraries in the county.

Proposals include reduced opening hours for every branch, assistance from local communities and new self-service technology for users.

A reduction in opening hours is to be introduced in all branches.

Councillor John Thomson, from Wiltshire Council, said: "In this financial climate we cannot continue operating the library service in its current format.

"We are looking at innovative ways of keeping all 31 of our libraries open and to do this we will need the help of the local community."

'Learning curve'

Walcot Library in Swindon faced closure two years ago until a group of volunteers decided to run it and combine it with a charity shop.

Sandra Melvin, a volunteer at Walcot Library in Swindon, said: "Of the volunteers that we have here now, there are some who just do the charity shop and some who do the library.

"It was a learning curve for us but we manage. With the support from the library staff - it works, it's brilliant."

Councillor Peter Mallinson, from Swindon Borough Council, said: "If it was an ideal world and money was no object then obviously the best thing is always to have the professional librarians running the libraries.

"But in the present climate we've got to look at other ways of doing things.

"Volunteers are not paid for doing the job, they've got no reason other than their community spirit for doing it."

Wiltshire Council is due to put its plans for the future of library services before council leaders on 25 January.

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