Volunteers needed to help libraries in Rutland survive

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LIBRARIES across Rutland need your help to secure their future.

The hours at public libraries in Oakham, Uppingham and Ryhall have already faced changes to their opening hours, as Rutland County Council strives to make £4m in savings.

The cultural services budget, which covers the libraries, Rutland County Museum in Catmos Street, Oakham, and Oakham Castle, is being cut by £100,000 over the next two years.

Thirty people already volunteer in the libraries, working alongside paid staff. But council leader Roger Begy (Con) said more were needed to maintain the services.

He said: “The council is extremely keen to hear from community groups and individuals who are interested in getting involved in the running of libraries and Rutland County Museum.

“We have more than 30 volunteers who are an important part of those teams but more are needed to maintain the service we deliver.

“The most successful libraries and museums around the country are run in partnership with the local community and we need to develop that further in Rutland.”

There are a wide range of volunteer roles including tour guides at the museum and castle, researchers at the museum and storytime assistant at the libraries.

One of the roles currently being advertised is a housebound volunteer, who would visit people in their homes in Ketton to deliver books.

Volunteers receive training, including customer service training, are supervised by a paid member of staff and are treated as a member of the team.

So far the council has managed to keep all the libraries open.

Coun Begy said: “We have taken some difficult decisions to make sure the services we provide are

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affordable and sustainable.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to retain all four libraries, a museum and a castle through one of the most challenging times for local government. This has not been the case elsewhere in the country.”

From Monday, October 31, the libraries in Catmos Street, Oakham, and Queen Street, Uppingham, will close at 6pm instead of 7pm.

Ryhall Library in Coppice Road will close at 5pm on Mondays and Thursdays and will no longer open on Saturday but it will open an hour earlier at 9am.

Ketton Library in High Street will open at 9am instead of 10am to coincide with school drop-off times. It has managed to retain its hours thanks to financial support from the parish council.

Oakham Castle will close an hour earlier every day at 4pm and will be closed Tuesdays instead of Mondays following feedback from visitors.

Rutland County Museum will also close an hour earlier each day at 4pm and will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The mobile library service will continue as normal.

To find out more about volunteering phone the council on 01572 722577 or visit www.rutland.gov.uk.