The “Save Lincolnshire Libraries” group today handed over a petition of 23,000 signatures in protest against the cut in Lincolnshire library services.
In a short ceremony outside the County Council offices, protestors gathered to show their support as the signatures were passed to a council representative.
The ceremonial handing over of petitions signals the end of the period of public consultation for the cut of Lincolnshire Library services.
With such obvious and abundant support from Lincoln’s public, the council will be under pressure.
The Linc spoke to John Huff, who pointed out the importance of the campaign. He said, “By campaigning we want to make sure that they understand that there’s a huge majority of people out there using libraries, that want to see them maintained.”
John Huff continued to speak about the importance of library services saying, “We are looking to maintain libraries, as they are required by law to provide a proper library service right across Lincolnshire. It’s unacceptable they are withdrawing them.”
Kay Gibson also spoke to The Linc about the library closure, specifically about the threat to North Hykeham library.
As one of the libraries that has been put in danger by the potential cuts, Kay Gibson is looking to keep her local library open to maintain the local service provided.
She said, “I’ve got a little boy who is seven at the moment and at the age of 12, I’d like him to be able to walk down to library like I was able to when I was that age. But if we lose North Hykeham Library, the closest library with be the one in the city centre and at 12, I’m not letting him get on a bus on his own to go there.”
Kay continued to ask for the decision makers to consider the factors when they make their final decision. She said, “We need people to follow their hearts as well as their heads. It’s not just a process of number crunching, there are so many other issues involved in this.”
Councillor Steven Palmer who was in attendance at the handover also spoke to The Linc. He said he was “horrified” at the threat to Lincolnshire Libraries.
Lincolnshire Independent Stephen Palmer, who represents Alford and Sutton on Sea continued to say, “Libraries are an essential hub of communities. It’s a lot more than just book lending. It’s about chess clubs and ‘nitter natter’ meetings. It’s for everyone, from the age of toddlers to old age.”
Stephen Palmer was worried that a closure of rural libraries may spiral into a greater closure of libraries across the county. He said, “Once you close a library you’ll never open it again, and once you sell off a building, you’ll never get it back. The libraries in the centre of Lincoln will be affected. In a few years the county council may look at the booking loaning which will have dropped dramatically because of the library closure, so therefore when is the day coming when we don’t need libraries at all.”
Stephen Palmer concluded by stating that the saving of £2 million is a third of the council budget, but it affects two thirds of libraries and three quarters of mobile libraries.
He said, “The saving can be made in other ways. There is a proposal that allows to keep libraries open and 155 of the threatened mobile library routes open.”
County Councillor Nick Worth released a statement in response to the recent protests that acknowledges the complaints towards the potential cull of library services.
It reads, “Despite the continuing decline in usage, we know there are still people who are passionate about libraries. And their views will be taken into consideration alongside those of everyone else who responds to our consultation.”
He also made reference that all responses will be analysed before the final decision is taken, which is scheduled to take place on December 3rd.
Now that the period of public consultation is over, the next step is for all the data collected, including the petitions, to be analysed.
This analysis is being conducted by Sheffield Hallam University, which acts as an independent body.
Once the analysis has been completed the proposal then goes to a Scrutiny Committee made up of 11 councilors. Following on from that, the final decision will be taken on December third.
The ‘Save Lincolnshire Libraries’ group will be running protests right up until December 3rd, and after if needs be.
For more information visit http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/.