Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Ottery’s library could face closure unless volunteers step forward to run it under cost-saving measures unveiled by county bosses.
The proposals announced by Devon County Council (DCC) could affect more than half of the county’s libraries and would see a move towards fewer but better equipped facilities known as ‘Devon Centres’.
These centres, which would include Sidmouth and Honiton, would offer a broader range of services than traditional libraries - including adult learning classes and more public IT facilities.
But options on the table for smaller libraries like Ottery’s include a reduction in opening hours and a reliance on volunteers to operate the service.
A DCC spokesman confirmed last week: “Subject to next week’s council meeting, communities will now be asked to take over the running of the services, with some level of support from the council, otherwise they risk ending.
“However the council does not intend for any libraries to close and is confident that communities, charities and any interested group will get behind the proposals to keep the local services running.”
Councillor Claire Wright, county representative for Ottery, described the proposals as ‘savage’, adding that they could have a potentially devastating impact on the town.
She said: “It is a huge ask to get the community to step in and run these facilities.
“I know that money is scarce, but these cuts are having the effect of ripping the fabric out of communities.
“It isn’t just people who go to borrow books, some go because they are lonely and meeting other people there is part of their social network.”
Cllr Wright added that she is due to meet with the library manager to establish how many people in the area would be affected.
County bosses are faced with making £110million in savings over the next four years, but Councillor Roger Croad, DCC cabinet member responsible for libraries, said that a cut in Government funding was not the only reason behind the proposals.
“Changes in the way people use libraries, and in what they expect of the service, is also driving this consideration of what a future library service might look like.”
“We think these proposals represent the best opportunity to maximise the potential of libraries to support local communities in the future.”