Campaigners wary of Lincolnshire Co-operative's olive branch for libraries
Members of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign group say they believe the kind of libraries Lincolnshire Co-operative may offer have little in common with the current service provided by Lincolnshire County Council.
The council is proposing to hand over control of 32 of its 47 library services to community groups to save £2 million.
The Co-op says it is interested in working with the authority council to maintain library services in Welton, Boultham in Lincoln, Nettleham, Cherry Willingham and Spilsby and continue to run Waddington Library from its pharmacy in the village.
Nettleham library user Emily Evison said: “As a representative of one of the villages being offered this olive branch I am very wary.
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“Although I genuinely believe that the Co-op is motivated by good intentions, I am deeply sceptical of this 'generous' offer. Waddington library, which was 'saved' by the Co-op is now minuscule.
“Admittedly it has a larger footfall now, and is open longer hours, but the number of available titles is far lower than before.
“Their library is essentially a corner of the pharmacy, not a dedicated building. In Welton, the Co-op owns the building, and is one of the properties that the council announced it will cease to lease the property from beyond May 14.
“Potentially the Co-op could continue that site as a library, rather than tucking the books into a corner of the supermarket.
“Co-op supported libraries will still be staffed by volunteers, so this offer to six villages just confuses the big picture by demotivating certain communities and making the public feel that things won't be as bad as we are telling them.
“The reality of volunteer-run libraries is clear to us all. Keeping the libraries under Lincolnshire County Council auspices is crucial, not a steady dismantling of the service into fractured community projects.”
The campaign group is urging people to demand answers about the Co-op’s initiative, including whether facilities will be large enough to offer the right resources and stage events and how much will the council pay the Co-op and for how long.
A date has now been confirmed for a protest march as Saturday September 21. People are asked to gather in Castle Square, Lincoln, at 12 noon.
A Facebook event page for the protest has been set up too, follow this link https://www.facebook.com/events/271956276279072/