Lincolnshire Co-operative offers libraries a lifeline
Lincolnshire Co-operative has offered to join forces with Lincolnshire County council to keep libraries at the heart of their communities.
The organisation has shown an interest in working with the council to maintain library services in Welton, Boultham in Lincoln, Nettleham, Cherry Willingham and Spilsby.
Towards the end of last year, the Co-op took on the running of Waddington Library, with the help of local volunteers.
As a result, the library was moved into the village pharmacy in Bar Lane, trebling its opening hours.
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And the Co-op has pledged to continue its support in Waddington.
Lincolnshire County Council is proposing to hand over control of 32 of its 47 library services to community groups as part of moves to save £2 million.
Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “We want to keep all of Lincolnshire's libraries open.
“But to do that we need to find a new way of doing things.
“We welcome the Co-op's offer of support, and we'll be speaking to them about what help they can provide.
“We've already seen the success of our partnership approach in Waddington, which has brought the dual benefits of increased usage and lower running costs.
“Hopefully, this can be replicated at these other libraries.
“So far, we've been approached by 21 communities, who are interested in becoming involved in running local library services. I'm sure that, if everyone works together, we can create a service that's more efficient, more affordable and better tailored to local needs.”
Lincolnshire Co-op also carries out home deliveries for the library service in Louth, Ruskington and Gainsborough using pharmacy delivery vehicles.
The society has also offered the possibility of extending this scheme.
Ursula Lidbetter, chief executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative, said: “As well as running our outlets, part of our role as a co-operative is to support the communities where we trade.
“The success of Waddington and helping with home deliveries shows us that we can play a part in making sure communities across Lincolnshire continue to have access to library services.
“We’ve submitted some ideas to the county council.
“If any of these are pursued, we’ll need volunteers from the community who are also keen to sustain library services to come forward.
“We’re happy to talk to people in those areas about our thoughts or about how we could help with alternative solutions.
“We can also share our experience of running Waddington with others or work with the council and community groups on how to recruit and manage teams of volunteers.”
The Co-op's offer will now be considered as part of the on-going libraries consultation.
People have September 30 to let the council know their views on the best way forward for the library service.
They can do this by filling in the online questionnaire at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.
Alternatively, they can pick up a hard copy at their local library or call the customer service centre on 01522 782010.