Library users told to expect 25 per cent cuts

LIBRARY users in Fenland have been told to brace themselves for 25 per cent cuts to the service.

Swingeing Government cutbacks will force libraries to take drastic action to keep books on the shelves over the next three to four years.

Solutions include sharing services with neighbouring areas such as Lincolnshire, cutting back on books and archive material and asking residents to pay for more services.

Cambridgeshire County Council has reassured Fenland that it is seen as the area with the “greatest need” but admits it is already reducing mobile library visits to remote areas.

Rod Craig, creative director for communities and adult services, says he now faces “the biggest challenge of my professional career” to make the savings and keep borrowing facilities alive.

He said: “We are trying to do this without cutting any libraries” but confessed: “It would be foolhardy to promise no library closure.”

Mr Craig says central Government’s “enormous ask” includes �2.2 million of savings - with the threat of bigger cuts in autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

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Wisbech and March libraries have had millions invested in them in recent years but the county council Cabinet has already decided to replace a fortnightly mobile service with a monthly alternative.

About �1 million could come from stripping back office functions and �150,000 could be saved by reducing the book fund.

Cutting archives would also save �150,000 and extra income could be raised by charging more for tapes, DVDs and internet access.

Weekend and evening working pay could also be renegotiated with staff and there have been calls for more people to volunteer to keep services running.

On Wednesday (August 18) a public meeting will be held at March Library to discuss the situation and get ideas from members of the public about what to do. It runs between 6pm and 8.30pm.

Another meeting is planned at March Library for September 10, also between 6pm and 8.30pm.

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