LETTER: Libraries - Council ignore the hard facts

I write to you in regard to the County Councils irrational proposals for the future of the County Council Library Service.

There are many things wrong with these proposals.

There ignore the trained professional and dedicated service currently given by the present retained library staff.

Proposals to replace them with untrained and in some cases unsuitable, if well meaning, volunteers and/or commercial retailers whose prime objective (quite properly) is to attract customers to their main line business, not necessarily in the best interests of providing an adequate and proper library service.

Councillor Worth, who claims to speak for the local Conservative Party, lays stress in his press statements on the trend towards online availability of literature.

There is much wrong with this, a very small proportion of the population own or wish to own this service, of them the majority express a preference for “proper books”, (see the Sunday Times survey figures).

Councillor Worth’s presentation of the statistics regarding library use ignores the significant numbers of Playgroups, Schools, Other groups and the less privileged who attend our present libraries (see many local press references).

Currently children are much encouraged to enjoy the written word and to improve their literacy skills by attending library run activities.

The less privileged are enabled to receive basic instruction in the use of and access to internet services.

Perhaps it may be true that an minority of the population make direct use of libraries but this is equally true of many council services e.g. Primary Schools and Leisure Centres, do we have to expect that these too will ultimately be decimated in the cause of economy?

Councillor Worth claims that with the new proposals a library will be within thirty minutes of public transport access.

This ignores totally time for accessing the bus stop, access from the bus stop to the library and the difficulties of matching 
return home times after the visit. For many a visit to the library will become a major undertaking.

By All means examine sensibly how services may be less expensively provided but the County Council has a clear and positive responsibility to provide a comprehensive and worthwhile library service.

I note that our Local Member of Parliament and also the Leader of the ELDC concur with this view.

I approach my 90th birthday and have been an active Conservative all my life but I sadly have to make clear that if Councillor Worth truly represents the policies of the Conservative group both now and in the future that I shall not support my local party or any of its candidates.

I find it sad that the group should do undermine the splendid example set for it by Sir Edward Leigh.

Stan Perry

Holton le Moor