Libraries face shake up to meet cutbacks target

DRAFTING in volunteers to help run them, possibly transferring their running to an outside body and the cutting back of mobile services to rural villages are part of a bleak future for Cambridgeshire libraries.

Their future may be radically altered following an urgent need to cut costs. The plan is to make savings of �2.2 million over the coming three years.

Although the county insists no library will close, Cabinet decided on Monday that they should “agree to the approach suggested for identifying libraries for closure, should this be required”.

Cabinet member Sir Peter Brown described the national finances as being “in a mess and unfortunately public services are helping to foot most of the bill”.

He opposed any knee jerk reaction and hoped transforming the way the library service is delivered will work better rather than “chopping and closing facilities.”

Wisbech and March libraries, having had millions invested in them, look fairly secure but changes, if they happen, will almost certainly affect Chatteris and Whittlesey.

And in the villages there will be a much earlier appreciation of the changes needed following Cabinet’s decision to offer a monthly instead of a fortnightly mobile service.

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The county will reduce its mobile fleet from nine to four, with the mobile library units sited within easier reach of the communities they serve.

If the county decides to part company with the library service altogether – possibly by handing it over to a trust or an external organisation- this will have what they describe as a “significant human resource implication”.

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