Libraries face axe in county council cuts

Ruskington Library.
Ruskington Library.

Village libraries face the axe unless volunteers come forward as the county council plans to drastically cut spending on library services.

This has led to some – including Billinghay and Heckington – considering whether to set up their own.

The county council is proposing to reduce its number of libraries to just 10 in the larger towns, including Sleaford, meaning up to 170 jobs could be at risk.

Another five in smaller towns would open for at least 25 hours a week. A third tier of village libraries could be closed, including those at Ruskington and Metheringham, but communities could take them over, with professional support and financial assistance of £5,167 a year, plus 4,000 books, and other help.

Mobile library services are set to replace many ‘static’ services.

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said the way in which libraries are used is changing with 82 per cent of the county population not active borrowers and electronic devices such as tablets taking over.

“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. And by getting them more involved we think we can actually create a library service that’s better tailored to each community’s individual needs.” he said.

Coun Worth said successful changes have already taken place at a number of libraries, improving services .

The proposal for a public consultation will be discussed on Tuesday, July 2. Prior to this, the matter will be debated by the Communities and Public Safety Scrutiny Committee today (Wednesday). If approved, a consultation period will run from July 3 until September 30.

Metheringham parish councillors are keen to take positive action, Ruskington discussed it last night (Tuesday) while Billinghay and Heckington were both considering setting up their own libraries.