I am just as concerned as anyone over threat of library closures
Libraries are an absolutely vital part of our communities. They allow parents to give children access to a wide range of books, helping them with their reading skills and bringing alive their imaginations.
They allow bookworms the joy of indulging a passion often learned at a young age, often on a parental or grandparental knee.
They allow the elderly a contact which is too often lacking in our society these days. Reading is a wonderful thing for people of all ages, and our excellent local libraries help all of us to take full advantage of its pleasures.
Books in their traditional form are not the only service libraries offer.
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Many also offer audio books, which can be an important lifeline to those who cannot see well enough to read. Libraries are also, for some, a place to access a computer.
This is especially important in an age where many government and business services have moved online, despite my best efforts to stop this happening.
And some libraries also act as a space for the local community, to host events, as well as providing opportunities for advertising by local groups.
I know from my postbag and coverage in The Echo that a great many of my constituents are very concerned about proposals being put forward by the county council for the future of library services in Lincolnshire. So am I.
I know that times are tough, but I have been encouraging the council to bend over backwards to try to keep as many of our libraries open as they can.
The decision is not mine to make, and I know that the council has difficult choices ahead, but I also know it is listening.
I have therefore been heartened by LCC's promise to continue to work with local communities to ensure they find long-term sustainable solutions to ensure the future of the libraries that so many people are so passionate about.
While the council is facing a challenge that is common to all levels of government in these tight financial times – providing services with significantly reduced resources – it is important that the services which enrich our lives but which are not seen as essential are not forgotten.
Many of those who have contacted me about libraries have also made their views known during the consultation period. This has now closed, and all of the feedback is being independently analysed by Sheffield Hallam University.
The findings will be presented at the end of October in a report which will inform the final recommendations to the Council Executive at the beginning of December.
I will be keeping a close eye on progress and the conclusions that are arrived at.
I very much hope solutions will be found to enable us all to continue to enjoy the facilities that the wonderful places our libraries are have to offer.