Please don’t sound libraries death knell

PEOPLE fighting to save Oulton Broad library warned this week that breaking up Suffolk's countywide network could be the death knell for smaller branches.

About a dozen people met at the library in Bridge Road on Tuesday to discuss ways of keeping it running. It is one of the 29 in Suffolk that could close if no one steps forward to run them.

As previously reported by The Journal, Suffolk County Council plans to offload two-thirds of its libraries to try to save �2m as part of its New Strategic Direction.

A public consultation exercise on its proposals reached the midway point last week.

More than 1,300 comments have so far been submitted, but the authority has called upon people to put forward more ideas on how to keep the services going.

Other branches at risk of closure include Kessingland, Southwold and Bungay.

On Tuesday, Oulton Broad library- user Pauline Rainton, who organised the meeting after attending a Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts forum, said: 'We don't want our libraries to be fragmented. If you break them apart there is more chance of ones like this dropping off the list.

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'This meeting has been a bit off the cuff, but it's an attempt to get the ball rolling.

'I kept hearing all about protests over Stradbroke, Bungay and Eye libraries but Oulton Broad was not being mentioned. We want to raise the profile of Oulton Broad library and make sure it survives.'

Roz Gouldby, who lives in Oulton Broad and volunteers at the library's summer school for children, added: 'I think we all agree the cuts should come from the top.

'That �12,000 they spent on the chief executive [in management coaching sessions] would probably be enough to pay the staff wages here for at least a year.'

As previously reported, Suffolk council's chief executive, Andrea Hill, has undergone 23 coaching sessions at a cost of �12,075 to the taxpayer.

Halesworth library is holding a meeting next month as part of the campaign to save it. People can complete Suffolk County Council's consultation document and sign the online petition, as well as the library's own one.

Tamsyn Imison, of Station Road, Halesworth, emphasised that the library also acted as the town's only community centre.

The Save Our Libraries meeting will take place at the library on Saturday, April 2 at 11am.

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