CONTROVERSIAL plans to close the county’s School Library Service have been put on ice while alternative ways of running it are investigated.
The service had been earmarked to close at the end of August after the number of schools using it since 2000/2001 had shrunk from 216 to just 52 with a resulting fall in income from £378,200 per annum to £112,000.
However following a consultation exercise with county schools which showed a real appetite for libraries, books and the expertise that goes with them, the axe has been stayed until at least the end of the year while officials work out an alternative and more cost effective way of running it.
The news has been welcomed by the Leader of Worcestershire’s Labour Group Councillor Robin Lunn (Redditch North), who said: “The demand is out there but we have not had a service that the end user wants to utilise.
“There are school library services that run perfectly adequately elsewhere in the country, even ones that run them for other authorities.
“If people like us had not come up with different ideas then the Conservatives would have closed the service and it would have been lost.
“The important thing is to have a flexible offering and to grow it and we look forward to a permanent solution being found, which is eminently possible.”
County staff are now working on a new costing structure incorporating a flat fee for schools and a per pupil rate with schools invited to sign up to a three year contract.
A report into the proposals says the aim is to come out with a more sustainable, high quality and fit for purpose service for county schools.
The new look service will be put forward to headteachers in September.