Every library in Suffolk is up for grabs

EVERY library in Suffolk is being offered to community groups or parish councils in an attempt to cut nearly a third from the county's budget for the service.

As revealed yesterday 29 'community libraries' – nearly two thirds of the total in the county, which includes Kessingland, Oulton Broad and Southwold – could close if no other groups come in to run them.

But even the 15 'county libraries' that have a guaranteed future are being offered to other groups in an attempt to cut costs.

County councillor with responsibility for libraries Judy Terry said that the more large libraries that were taken over by other bodies, the more money there would be available to support community libraries being run by local groups.

She said: 'There has already been interest from a trust interested in taking over Haverhill library – that is the kind of approach we are looking at around the county.'

Mrs Terry was confident that some of the 29 community libraries would find a new lease of life – but accepted that the future could look bleak for some where no other groups wanted to take them over.

The consultation on the future of the libraries runs until the end of April. The results of that consultation will then be analysed and the future of the libraries service is likely to be discussed at a county cabinet meeting in July.

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Mrs Terry said that the transfer of libraries should be complete by April 2013 – although she hoped that the process would be well under way with some libraries transferred by April next year.

Guenever Pachent, service director for libraries, said the 15 county libraries would be closely monitored if they were taken over by community groups to ensure they continued to give a comprehensive service.

There would still be a county library service providing administrative support and supplying books and other media to libraries – you would still be able to order any title held by the county to be collected at your local library whoever ran it.

Mrs Terry said it was important that groups contacted the county by the end of April, even if it was only to express an interest or give an idea.

She said groups could take longer to draw up detailed proposals – but would need to have completed any deal by April 2013.