Assurances have been given that Louth’s library is safe from a wave of cuts announced for Lincolnshire but a number of rural areas look set to be hit.
Lincolnshire County Council last week announced £2 million worth of planned cuts to the library service, including the possible closure of 32 sites.
The Louth Library in Northgate is one of the few that looks set to do well out of the proposals, with its opening hours to be increased by two hours to 50 hours per week, but all but a few surrounding villages will see their provision suffer.
Coun John Hough (Lab), who represents Louth South on the county council, said the changes ‘defied belief’ and would leave many rural communities without access to library services.
But Coun Nick Worth (Con), the county council’s executive member for libraries, said: “The way in which libraries are used is changing, not just in Lincolnshire, but across the country.
“The library service is changing, like it or not, and our vision for the future of the service is a comprehensive one, but one that remains both affordable and efficient.”
As part of the savings, changes will also be made to the level of service provided to surrounding villages by the mobile library service.
Library services provided for villages like Holton le Clay, Binbrook, Grainthorpe and Marshchapel will all be reduced while the villages of Manby, North Thoresby, North Somercotes, Saltfleet and Tetney will enjoy increases.
But a number of villages currently being served by a ‘Home Library Service’ will see their provision axed altogether. Aby, Alvingham, Authorpe, Covenham, Conisholme, Gayton le Marsh, Great Carlton, Kelstern, Legbourne, Little Cawthorpe, Ludford, North Cockerington, Saltfleetby, South Cockerington, South Somercotes, South Reston, Utterby, Withern and Yarburgh will be left without library provision under the plans.
The council says all villages in the county will be within a 30 minute drive of a library building and that no residents will be left without a service.
But Coun Hough told the Leader of his fears for local residents. “I have huge concerns that what we are seeing here is the destruction of our library service,” he said. “We know large number of people still don’t have access to cars or public transport and feel isolated.
“Libraries have long been a source of access to things like the internet and will be even more important for the Universal Credit Service where everybody will have to apply online.
“What is being proposed defies belief, especially when libraries are a statutory service.
“We will be opposing this at every opportunity and will be working with residents to see what can be done.”