LETTER: Libraries - Figures don’t stack up

I need to correct something that was reported in the Mail, regarding library cuts.

This is just a consultation exercise at the moment, Mmmm!!!!!!!!

The proposal is to cut the opening hours of the library in Rasen from 28hrs to 25hrs, a reduction of 3hrs and not 5hrs that was reported. The councillor that said that got her facts wrong.

Caistor’s library is not run just by volunteers, there are 16 paid staff hours as well as the 38 volunteer hours.

The proposal is to cut the 16 paid staff hours.

We went through all this in April 2008. Then it focused on stabilising the library budget and required 11.5% reduction in total opening hours across the whole service.

Market Rasen library then was open a total of 26.5 hours per week, this was going to be reduced to 20 hours per week.

We put our case and proved that Rasen did cost less to run than their original figures.

Instead of a cut in hours we got an increase of 1.5 hours. Believe or not, they were going to close the library on (Tuesday). MARKET DAY, the busiest day of the week.

It seemed that they got their figure all mixed up with another location.

Back then they increased Caistor library hours from 19.5 hours per week to 29 hours per week. Caistor’s Library at the time was costing more to run than Rasens.

Cost for Rasen was £24.40 per square metre and Caistor £42.90 per square metre, nearly twice as much.

Now that the library in Caistor has moved to the Arts & Heritage Centre, running costs have reduced dramatically. So why are they wanting to make cuts in Caistor?

As already noted, libraries are not just about lending books. There is an after school club run from there. Not all families have computers. A chance for some students to get peace and quiet to do their homework with some support.

There is computer access for people to fill in their benefit forms online, we all know how hard the government are pushing for this.

Instead of committing libraries to a slow death we should be refocusing more on how we can increase the use of libraries in the community.

The library in any town has always been the first place you turn to if you need advice. A community access point for advice and guidance.

The number of books on lone is not a measure on how libraries perform, the County Council needs to think outside the box. Gives you confidence in how the County Council run things.

So which of the days are going to be open in Rasen? My bet is on Thursday as one, traditionally half-day closing in the town and very quiet.

Ken Bridger

Market Rasen