Delight for libraries after 19 volunteers respond to appeal

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THE future of libraries in the county is more secure after volunteers responded in their droves to an appeal.

Rutland County Council appealed in the Mercury in November for volunteers to come forward and help in the libraries in Oakham, Uppingham, Ketton and Ryhall, as well as Oakham Castle and Rutland County Museum.

The appeal was backed by Sheila Wilson, who has been volunteering at Oakham library for six years.

The council said 19 volunteers had come forward and were being trained, in partnership with Voluntary Action Rutland, and 12 of the volunteers have already been allocated a role.

Roles include delivering books to housebound people, stacking the shelves at the libraries, researchers for the museum and tour guides.

This brings the total number of volunteers to nearly 50.

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con), who is also the portfolio holder for culture, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the community response to our appeal for library volunteers.

“We are now in the fortunate position of having more volunteers than we’ve ever had before, and I would like to thank everybody who has come forward for doing so.

“It gives us the opportunity to provide a better service to customers and if volunteers keep coming forward then perhaps one day we’ll be a position to look at extending opening hours”.

The council was forced to cut its opening hours at the libraries in Oakham, Uppingham and Ketton, in the face of budget cuts. Ketton Parish Council has supported the library in the village so the hours didn’t have to be cut there.

Coun Begy said: “Although the original appeal was for library volunteers, we have found that some of those people who have come forward have had skills more suited to Oakham Castle and Rutland County Museum.

“So my message is that we want to hear from you if you are interested in volunteering for any of our services within the cultural department including libraries, museum, castle or Live@ events.”

For more information on becoming a volunteer with visit www.rutland.gov.uk/libraries or call 01572 722577.