Village rejects a library run by volunteers alone

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LIBRARIES run entirely by volunteers are not an option, according to a committee looking at ways to save one of the busiest small libraries.

A well-attended public meeting on Monday at Thurston heard three outline proposals from a committee set up under the guidance of the parish council to examine ways of keeping their library, which gets 12,500 visits a year.

None of the proposals see it run by volunteers and committee member Richard Fawcett said: “Having volunteers running the whole thing is difficult to sustain, but you could have volunteers as part of the management group.”

They felt volunteers alone created problems ensuring the continuity of service.

Suffolk County Council must cut 30 per cent from its library budget over three years. In January it announced that while safeguarding 15 core libraries, though open to suggestions about running them, it wanted ideas for how the remaining 29 could be run, seeking outside groups to take them on.

Mr Fawcett said after the meeting: “We’ve been trying to make this constructive. We haven’t been into organising ‘save our library’ demonstrations.”

The meeting decided the Thurston committee should put its three proposals to the county as an expression of interest, then begin detailed planning in case their ideas were accepted.

All the proposals see the library staying in Thurston Community College and moves made to reduce running costs, perhaps by reducing opening hours.

The first proposal was to manage the library locally in partnership with Thurston Community College.

Mr Fawcett told the meeting: “This is a substantial step away from what the county does.

“This takes Suffolk a long way out of the management.”

It would require community funding and parish vice chairman Peter Robinson said the current cost of the library would add £17 per household to the parish ‘rates’.

The second idea was for the county to continue running it with local input and management, possibly with the village matching county funding.

The final proposal was to form local partnerships with other community libraries. The committee suggested they could either link with nearby libraries or with the two other libraries in the county which share school premises, in Great Cornard and Ipswich.

The library consultation ends on Saturday April 30.

Full details on all Suffolk libraries, and consultation documents are at www.suffolk.gov.uk/librariesconsultation2011