With the axe once more hovering over many Somerset libraries, supporters of Wellington library need to note the date of Sat Feb 27th when the county’s consultation team visit the town library from 10.00am – 1.00pm and the web link somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation where they can register concerns. Local campaigners are already beginning to mobilise support. “We may be on the brink of losing our much-loved Public Libraries,” says Jo Pocock.
“Throughout Somerset our Libraries face the prospect of being progressively closed or handed over to community volunteers in the effort to save between £300 – £500k in county-wide running costs. Both Wellington and Wiveliscombe find themselves on the ‘at risk’ list.
“ Branches may well remain open in some form staffed by enthusiastic volunteers, whose efforts I most certainly would not seek to denigrate, but libraries will no longer be professionally staffed by experts who have often spent a lifetime working in their chosen sphere.
“In addition to the inevitable redundancies this will cause, our libraries, if staffed on an ad hoc local basis however willingly, will lose that national and regional connectivity meaning that books and other resources can be shared across from other branches.
“An equally important point – against a background of large and widespread ‘High Street’ upheaval due to changes in our shopping habits because of internet technology – is that our town centres look set to become places where people congregate for social reasons more than actually to buy things. Recent figures over Christmas 2017 show footfall in conventional shops is steadily falling, whilst people are flocking to numberless cafés, eateries, high street gyms, cinemas and the like; a local library, as a meeting place and social hub surely falls into this category, especially with the looming demographic of an ageing population, many of whom still actually like to borrow and read books!
“in Wellington, keeping our High Street library – which received over 68,000 visits from the public last year – open, has the strong backing of the Town Council.”
And if you would like to have your say about keeping our – and your! – library open, please go to :- http://www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation between now and April 22nd 2018.