A review of library services and the closure of those in the county with the biggest overlap of visitors is a key proposal in today’s budget proposals from Northamptonshire County Council.
Huge cuts in government grants have forced the council to reduce the cost of all its services including libraries and the draft budget being put forward includes proposals to close eight libraries and cease two mobile libraries.
The budget also includes proposals to reduce the level of non-frontline staff including management and support costs, whilst working to protect those frontline roles which work directly with children and young people and families and those who work on community development.
The staffing reductions and closure proposals will mean the council would not have to cut opening hours nor the book and media fund, to ensure the county’s remaining libraries continue to offer a high-quality service.
Central to the library closure proposal is identifying those libraries and mobile library stops where most people who use these facilities also regularly use (and therefore have easy access to) another library. This means the closure of these services will have the lowest possible impact on our customers.
The libraries identified for closure are:
- St James
- Woodford Halse
Cabinet member for customer and communities Andre Gonzalez De Savage said: “This is a very difficult proposal to put forward. We know how much people value their local libraries which is why we are bucking the national trend and actually attracting more and more people to them.
“Put simply if we weren’t suffering these huge cuts in government funding reducing our staffing and proposing closing libraries wouldn’t be something we would be doing. But these are very tough times and every service has to be looked at and make their contribution to helping the county face up to its financial challenges.
“Of course there will be those who use these libraries as their only library and it’s our job now as part of this consultation to speak to those, get their views, explore the various options with them and work out the best way forward.”
If the closure proposal goes ahead the council will work with all users of the libraries identified to see how the impact can be lessened for them including what changes at other libraries could make them easier to use or what other alternatives may be possible.
The council will also work to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved with their local libraries, whether by becoming a friend of a library, donating, buying stock for the service through a reverse book club for example or volunteering.
- 3,030 people only use one of the libraries identified for potential closure
- 1,444 people only use a mobile library service, this is less than half of all mobile library customers.