Caistor library set up an example to county

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Caistor’s county councillor has spoken out against plans to scrap the town’s council-run library - and says user numbers are actually rising.

Conservative councillor Tony Turner made his feelings clear at Caistor Town Council’s monthly meeting, backing up his argument with striking figures.

The figures show Caistor Library well exceeded its ‘library visits’ target in the 2011/12 financial year.

The target was 28,441, and the actual figure 55,052.

But Lincolnshire County Council wants to slash the number of staffed libraries from 47 to just 15.

A consultation is under way and if plans are approved, Caistor will lose all its council staffed hours, currently 16.

The library, at the town’s Arts and Heritage Centre, is run by volunteers for an additional 38 hours.

And county council figures for the 2012/13 financial year show the ‘interactions’ target of 50,574 has once again been exceeded at 73,834.

But the council says ‘active borrowers’ and ‘new members’ are both down.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for libraries, Coun Nick Worth said: “The way in which libraries are used is changing, and the service needs to adapt if it is to remain efficient and affordable.

“The community at Caistor are already making a significant contribution to the running of their library, overseeing the majority of opening hours.

“We are proposing that volunteers now take on the running of the site with ongoing financial and professional support from the council.

“People can let us know their views on these plans by taking part in our consultation.”

But the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign group has accused the council of “seriously mismanaging” the consultation.

It says there should be more than just eight consultation meetings and that the consultation questionnaire is “flawed” and “deliberately designed so that people are unable to express any objection to the proposed cuts”.

Campaign spokesman Paul Stainthorp said: “At the very least there should be one meeting for every library that’s under threat. The consultations should take place in the towns and villages that actually stand to lose funding for their local library, so that local people can attend.

“We’re surprised that people have to send an e-mail via the council’s website to get permission to attend one of these events. Meetings should be public and open.”