Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Libraries face more cuts to save £300k
9:00am Friday 25th October 2013 in News
THE council is going to slash its library budget by £300,000 and a consultation is being launched to decide where the money should be cut from.
On Wednesday night Cabinet members gave the go-ahead for the council to launch a consultation with residents about a number of ways to claw back £300,000 from its £2.9m library budget.
Among the proposals for the borough’s 16 libraries is to streamline the management, to cut back on the number of programmes being hosted at the buildings, to reduce stock by £50,000 and to either close or lower the hours of smaller libraries.
“There is a range of options and it will depend on what people say they want to see happen,” said Coun Keith Williams, the cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure.
“People don’t like libraries closing. We need to identify what works best. “A library isn’t just books and shelves – we need to uncover what people think is the heart and soul in their library – do we save smaller libraries or run some of them centrally or hand them over for volunteers to run?
“An awful lot of people don’t go to libraries to read a book. Lots of people go for the IT equipment. We want to hear what people want from their service.”
He said a number of librarians were coming up to retirement so one option would be not to replace them but allow volunteers to step in, or streamline the service.
The mobile library service will need updating in a few years and Coun Williams said another suggestion would be to introduce smaller vehicles.
Those classed as smaller libraries are Covingham, Penhill, Pinetrees, Liden, Old Town, Even Swindon and Walcot. The medium libraries are Moredon and Rodbourne Cheney, Upper Stratton, Parks and Wroughton, and the larger libraries are Highworth, West Swindon and North Swindon.
Save Old Town Library, an action group led by Shirley Burnham, has been fighting to keep smaller libraries open in Swindon since 2007.
Shirley said every year she has had to return with her placards to lobby support for the service.
“Ever since I’ve taken an interest, libraries have been cut, and cut, and cut,” said Mrs Burnham. “The savings involved have been minimal, but their impact on quality is great.
“The people who use the small libraries should not have an inferior service or no service. “Swindon’s Library Service has suffered enough. It has been reduced to a skeleton and now councillors seem bent on removing its very bones.
“Closures are a political hot potato – but saying you are not closing them, while hollowing them out, is not the answer.”
Martin Wicks, of Park North, said he was disappointed to hear the council was cutting money for the service.
“The libraries have been experiencing year on year cuts – they are destroying the service for future generations,” he said. Lee Morris, 47, of Pinehurst said he did not think the council should be cutting more money from the libraries’ budget.
“People use the libraries for loads of stuff, not just reading,” he said. “You can go and do your photocopying. I think education is really important whatever age you are and a library is a great place to go and learn.”
The consultation is likely to be launched in the coming months.
Comments are closed on this article.