Campaigners fighting to save a library marked for closure in county council cuts are putting together a “rescue package” to try and keep their beloved facility open.
The group, who spent months battling to keep Deepings Library in High Street, Market Deeping, a council-funded facility, are now turning their attention to forming a community group to run the library.
South Kesteven district councillor for Deeping St James Judy Stevens (Independent), who has been at the heart of the campaign to save the library, said: “It will be unthinkable to not have a static the library here in the Deepings.
“What we have realised during the campaign is that for the people who use the library it is a very valuable service, and even in this technological age of Kindles it is just as vital as it has ever been to people in the community.”
Coun Stevens said the library was an important resource for future generations in the Deepings. She is now appealing for people to get in touch if they would be willing to volunteer at the library, in order to gauge whether there would be enough interest to run a sustainable service in the Deepings.
People who are interested in joining the newly formed Friends of Deepings Library group, which will meet for the first time in the new year, are asked to call Coun Stevens on 01778 348859 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week Lincolnshire County Council’s nine-member executive, including Market Deeping councillor Peter Robinson (Con), unanimously voted to withdraw funding from 32 out of 47 of the council-run libraries across the county. The council said it needed to save £2m from its annual £6m libraries budget.
The council is urging community groups to take over the running of their libraries. Deepings Library, which is currently open for 30 hours a week and has more than 2,000 active borrowers, will be replaced with visits from a mobile library unless volunteers take it over.
Deepings campaigners had hoped to save their library, but are now considering a community bid in the face of losing their service.
The deadline for communities to express an interest in running their own library has been extended to January 31.
So far there have been expressions of interest from community groups for 25 existing libraries across the county. Seven communities have said they want to create brand new facilities.
Communities who wish to take on the running of their libraries will receive more than £5,000 per year from the council to put towards running costs and ongoing professional advice.
Groups can also get a one-off grant of £15,000 to help set up their facility, with the council maintaining the exterior of the buildings on which it has the freehold, including the Deepings.
But campaigner and Lincolnshire county councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) has raised concerns about the sustainability of the council’s funding, with Deepings Library currently costing about £55,000 each year.
He said he has still not given up the fight to keep the Deepings Library a professional run facility.
The council will continue to run the existing libraries at reduced hours for up to a year, giving volunteers time to prepare to take over the facilities.