Use of volunteers in Lincolnshire library service draws heavy criticism

THE increasing use of volunteers and plans to cut mobile libraries drew heavy criticism at last week’s Louth Area Committee meeting.

Coun Eddy Poll, executive member for cultural services at Lincolnshire County Council, said the use of volunteers had been a ‘great success’.

“Librarians are trained professionals, we don’t have volunteer fighter pilots,” said one member of the public. “We lose an awful lot if we lose solid professionals.”

Coun Philip Sturman said the public wanted a ‘professional service’.

“Our volunteers have been a great success, giving a huge increase to opening hours at many libraries. But we still have paid staff at all our sites, I don’t see that changing,” said Coun Poll.

Mr Poll said existing buildings like village halls were being used to offer library services in remote villages and revealed he could be forced to cut mobile libraries where there is insufficient demand, but said they would stay where there was ‘no alternative’.

“We need to reduce reliance on mobile libraries, they are not the best use of resources, and many are underused,” he said.

“People need libraries, are you going to put one in every village?” Coun Laura Stephenson asked.

Coun Sturman told Mr Poll: “You’ve cut other services, now you want to cut Louth Library services. I don’t accept your talk.”

“We have to manage a decrease in budget, we have not cut libraries and are the only authority in the country not to close a single one,” said Mr Poll.