Libraries – more views are needed

SUFFOLK County Council wants more input from people about the future of the county’s libraries, despite having already heard from more than 1,300 organisations and individuals.

Suffolk is currently undertaking a public consultation about how it can save 30 per cent of its libraries budget and proposes to outsource 29 libraries, including those in Elmswell, Ixworth, Thurston, Needham Market, Lakenheath, Lavenham and Brandon.

Cllr Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet lead for the consultation, welcomed the response so far. But she said she wanted to receive more. Suffolk is looking for new and innovative ways of running libraries rather than closing them.

Cllr Terry said: “Suffolk County Council is not trying to close libraries. It is entirely wrong to suggest, or even create the perception, that this is happening.

“The days of county councils running public services as they always have are on the way out.

“We’re looking for new and creative ways of running Suffolk’s libraries, which nowadays serves a much broader function than they used to, and we need the help of Suffolk people. I’m urging everyone and anyone to let us know if you think there is a way to run your local library in a different and more cost-effective way.

“I want people to know that this is about securing the future of our libraries. We’re just looking for the right way to do it.”

Some ideas already proposed include a library being part of a community hub, being part of a local school or being part of a collectively run service by several parishes.

A series of meetings are being held about the future and to find out more go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/librariesconsultation2011 or find out more from your local library.