14th Oct, 2019

Brewing up a lifeline for library facing axe

Rob George 24th Oct, 2018

CASH-STRAPPED county council chiefs have been urged to support St John’s residents in their fight to spare the library from cuts which could mean it closes its doors.

St John’s is one of a number of county libraries facing the axe after members of Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet approved a consultation period which could lead to the Glebe Close site being closed.

But St John’s county councillor Richard Udall has called on county bosses to rethink their plans and come up with an alternative way of running the community lifeline with the inclusion of a coffee shop.

“I have conducted an on-line survey of St John’s Library users. 83 per cent have confirmed they would be willing to share the library with a coffee shop chain such as Costa Coffee or Starbucks,” he said.

“Residents have indicated they would prefer an independent coffee shop, but if it keeps the library open residents would be happy with a national coffee shop chain opening a branch in the library, it would offer revenue to support the service and could prevent cuts or closure.”

“Good coffee, cakes and books, its sounds like a perfect solution”.

Coun Udall said residents wouldn’t tolerate cuts which could harm or damage the future of the ‘important community asset’ and criticised county chiefs for claiming St John’s failed to provide value for money.

“It teaches children to read, it helps with adult literacy, it enables people to claim benefits online, it’s a meeting place.

Activities including my own councillor surgery take place in the library, chess clubs, slimming clubs, book clubs, film clubs and much more,” he said.

“I learned to read in St John’s Library, I remember my mother taking to the library before I even went to school, I always loved the place and enjoyed my visits. It’s more than just a place to borrow books, it’s the anchor of St John’s, it keeps St John’s alive, without a library I would have serious concerns about the future economic viability of my community”.

Aside from closure plans, council chiefs have also proposed sweeping changes to the service including the introduction of ‘Open Libraries’ which use self-service machines, meaning people can still access all services at their local library and they can stay open for longer.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for Communities, said: “The role of libraries within local communities has been changing now for over a decade.

“A lot of good work has already been done to get communities in Worcestershire more involved so services at local libraries can be sustained for the benefit of everyone.

“It’s more important than ever before communities come together and get more involved to ensure provision can be maintained at libraries.

“We also need to look at more co-location of libraries and sharing space with other organisations so services remain at the heart of our communities.”

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