‘Volunteer libraries not the way forward’

Market Rasen Library
Market Rasen Library
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Could Market Rasen’s library be run by the town council in order to prevent Lincolnshire County Council cuts to its opening hours?

Discussing the county councils plans to cut the library’s opening times by five hours, Market Rasen Town Councillor asked her fellow members last week, “why can’t we run it?”

All councillors present at last Wednesday’s 
meeting agreed a representation needed to be made to the county opposing any cuts, although Mayor Steve Bunney did point 
out the town was in a fortuitous situation as its library was not earmarked for closure like others in Lincolnshire.

Coun Carol Skye said: “It would be terrible to lose the libraries.

“The libraries nowadays offer so much, it is so 
much more than books. There are lots of groups that meet there.

“I think we need to be aware of back office costs but 
we need to support this facility.

“I think it is really disappointing they are having to reduce the hours again because it was a real boost when they extended the hours to make it accessible to more people.

“I do not know if there 
are some more volunteers who can help with the 
hours but we also need 
the expertise of the paid 
staff.”

Despite Coun Bowen’s calls for the town council to apply to run the 
library, many councillors 
felt that the library was 
too much for a small 
voluntary authority to administrate.

Coun Margaret Lakin-Whitworth said: “Who will actually run it? Who will be responsible? Who will do the HR?”

Town and district councillor Ken Bridger added: “It costs a lot of money to run a library, you have to pay royalties on every book lent, it adds up.”

Members resolved to write to the county council in support of the campaign against cuts to libraries across the county.

Mayor Steve Bunney said: “We are i the lucky position that our library is not being closed, but we would support satellite libraries.

“I’m not against the concept of volunteers, but I think we need some paid staff that understand the sophistication of libraries now because it’s not just books.”

Caistor’s library, which 
is housed in the town’s 
arts and heritage centre, has been held up as a prime example as to how a modern library can be run by volunteers alongside another service, in Caistor’s case a coffee shop.

Elsewhere in the county Lincolnshire Co-op has become involved in discussions on how a library service can be preserved by combining it with other services and utilising volunteers.

But Market Rasen Town councillors still felt the expertise of paid staff was needed.

Coun Nigel Cooke 
added: “I know the county council need to look at 
making cuts, we should 
have a library, but then again there are a lot of things we should have, a decent health service for one, but having volunteers running it is ridiculous.”