27th April 2011
LYME REGIS: Library campaigners not impressed by new offer from the county council
Dorset Library Services has informed the 20 libraries under threat of closure, including Lyme Regis and Charmouth, that they will not now be cut off entirely from the libary service as had previously been proposed.
The improved offer includes provison of public-access computers, 300 to 500 new books annually in each branch depending on its size together with retention of the self-serve and book circulation systems. Also included in the proposal are three hours a week of professional help to train volunteer staff and keep the systems up and running efficiently.
Under this new proposal, community libraries would have to commit to a peppercorn lease for the library building and an agreed number of opening hours by volunteers. The buildings would be available for other community uses.
Repairs, utilities, maintenance, insurance, accountancy etc will have to be met either from fundraising, income-producing activities or contributions by local councils. Large numbers of volunteers will also have to be found - a difficult proposition in a county where so many are already volunteering for established institutions.
Commenting on the new proposals, Hazel Robinson, chair of Friends of Charmouth Library and a member of AdLib, said: “Although this new offer is certainly a move in the right direction if the AdLib scheme (which retains the current system for all 34 Dorset libraries at a reduced level across the board) is not finally adopted, campaigners still believe that this and other alternative schemes proposed would give better outcomes for a sustainable future for local libraries.
“We know that, once our smaller libraries come partially out of the main system, it is unlikely they will ever be let back in as full participants, even when the economic crisis eases. We had been guardedly optimistic that the initial offer would be improved but this is be no means the end of the story as far as we are concerned.
“It is very sad that Dorset chose to follow other counties in their slash and burn policies when they could have been a beacon for good practice, truly consulting communities from the outset in a real spirit of co-operation to overcome the difficulties of the times.”
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