Caistor library safe for now as volunteers takeover

Centre manager Stephanie Dale (2nd left) with volunteers in the library left Radoslaw Wieczorek, Chris Leak, Peter Wheatley and Sacha Emmett and seated Sue Nicholson.   (Lin) EMN-151002-112801001
Centre manager Stephanie Dale (2nd left) with volunteers in the library left Radoslaw Wieczorek, Chris Leak, Peter Wheatley and Sacha Emmett and seated Sue Nicholson. (Lin) EMN-151002-112801001
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Caistor Arts & Heritage Centre Library is to be run by volunteers from the centre, but more help is needed.

The move means the community-run library will escape the axe being wielded by Lincolnshire County Council.

The council last week reaffirmed a decision to save £2 million, something that had earlier being opposed with court action.

Caistor’s Arts & Heritage Centre has been seen as a flagship model for community-run libraries nationally.

Centre manager Stephanie Dale said the library has received a halving of its annual funding from Lincolnshire County Council, and with future funding uncertain, it is seeking business and community sponsorship.

Currently, the library receives £11,000 a year from the county council, but this will be cut to £5,000 a year.

“However, to make the centre and library sustainable, Caistor’s volunteers and management need to find a further £6,000-£10,000 a year to cover the running costs.

“Facing up to the reality it is possible the library service will not last for ever without additional funding being found so the centre is now looking for sponsors or a benefactor to help support the costs of providing a secure future for the library,” she said.

Caistor is one of 40 libraries in Lincolnshire that is likely to depend on volunteers from the end of 2015.

The county council will give such centres £15,000 to cover any necessary set-up changes, plus give additional funding of £5,167 a year to cover running costs for four years.

From April next year, Lincolnshire County Council hopes to have an external organisation managing the county’s library services. The organisation will be mandated to support such community hubs. If no-one will take-over the running of the libraries, the council says its own staff will continue to deliver support.

At present, Caistor Library has 25 volunteers who give 55 hours a month of their time.

“When the centre fully takes over the service in the next few months they will need more volunteers to cover the additional hours which are currently worked by LCC staff,” Stephanie added.

In the changes, Market Rasen’s library escaped relatively unscathed. The county council’s proposed model says it will open at least 18 hours a week, over a minimum of 5 days (including a Saturday) and closing at 6pm at least one day. It would offer free access to computers and the internet, along with services like printing.

However, Rasen’s MP Sir Edward Leigh last week expressed his misgivings at the changes.

“Libraries are breeding grounds for the entrepreneurs and academics of tomorrow. I hope @LincolnshireCC reconsider their plan,” he tweeted.

The Save Lincolnshire Libraries Campaign replied: “Thank you Sir Edward, your support today makes a huge difference, that’s brilliant.”

*Anyone wishing to help Caistor Library can contact Stephanie Dale on 01472 851605 or by email at 28ploughill@gmail.com.