Lincolnshire Co-operative proposes adoption of local libraries

A number of libraries are to be managed by Lincolnshire Co-operative, according to proposals.

A number of libraries are to be managed by Lincolnshire Co-operative, according to proposals.

The society has offered to move five libraries into its local food and pharmacy branches to help sustain the service to the community. Last November, the co-operative worked on a pilot project where Waddington Library moved to a nearby pharmacy branch.

It is proposing to use the same model for a further five libraries in Welton, Nettleham, Cherry Willingham, Spilsby and Boultham in Lincoln.

The co-operative has submitted its ideas to Lincolnshire County Council as part of a consultation with residents over the future of the library service, which is inviting people or organisations to run libraries in their community. In return for taking over a library's service, Lincolnshire Co-operative will receive £5,167 per year per library, plus a one-off £15,000 capital grant towards relocation costs.

The Waddington Pharmacy’s library recorded a 13 per cent increase in the number of active users in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period the previous year, and almost double the number of new members joined. The co-operative also carries out home deliveries for the library service to those unable to travel to the branch by using pharmacy delivery vehicles — and it is considering an extension to this scheme.

It is run by a team of 16 volunteers who keep the library open for 43 hours a week, which has increase the previous opening hours three-fold. Inside the branch are 4,000 books, a photocopier, self-services machine, an enquiries desk and a seating area.

Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative Ursula Lidbetter said: "Public services are under threat because of significantly reduced budgets. As a co-op, we try to provide services that benefit our members. We believe that library services are important and that’s why we want to work with local people and the Council to come up with workable solutions to keep our libraries open.

"We actually opened Lincoln’s first library for our members in 1873 so this is something that connects with our heritage.

"The service in Waddington has had positive feedback and that’s why we feel we can help a number of communities ensure that library services are sustained, whether it’s through our suggestions or different ideas from other groups in those areas.

"In some cases, our ideas would enable us to improve our services too. For example, our foodstore in Cherry Willingham and our pharmacy in Nettleham could both benefit from additional space. However, our proposals are also about sustaining community services and we'd be happy to talk to other groups in those areas about different ways these libraries could be saved – whether we were involved or not."  

Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, added: “We want to keep all of Lincolnshire's libraries open. But to do that we need to find a new way of doing things. We welcome the co-op's offer of support, and we'll be speaking to them about what help they can provide.

"So far, we've been approached by 21 communities, who are interested in becoming involved in running local library services. I'm sure that, if everyone works together, we can create a service that's more efficient, more affordable and better tailored to local needs."

The offer from Lincolnshire Co-operative will be considered as part of the on-going consultation, which is due to close on September 30th.

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