Libraries – the full (ish) picture
It does not really matter what nice words are used. A withdrawal of library services means a closure by any other name. If the building remains, if it is volunteer run, what will that mean in reality? The plan by Somerset County Council announced last week to pass up to 16 libraries into community hands sounds and looks as if it is a withdrawal of the services. Those libraries passed to the community will no longer be staffed by professional librarians and it is far from clear if they will have access to a portfolio of new and constantly refresh books.
At the end of this process, assuming SCC manage not to make another mess of the legal niceties, there won’t be much of a library service left in the county. The mass closures proposed under the plan are up for a consultation which gets into full swing next week
These are the communities whose libraries are under threat:
Porlock already has a “community library” but it is supported by SCC. It is completely unclear if the amount of that funding will be cut in the budget for 2018/19.
The following libraries are proposed for passing over to the community or replacement with a mobile library stop.
Priorswood in Taunton
The scope of the service in Shepton Mallet does appear to be under threat. Although there are no plans to close the library or hand it over to the community, the proposal to relocate it to the Shape Mendip Hub suggests it will be somewhat smaller.
During the consultation period SCC will be running a series of events and opportunities to find out more about their plans:
Bishops Lydeard Village Hall Wednesday 7 February 2:30pm-5pm drop-in
Castle Cary Market House Wednesday 14 March 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4.30pm
Cheddar Library Friday 23 March 2:30pm, 3.30pm, 4:30pm
Crewkerne Henhayes Centre Friday 9 March 10am, 11am, 12am
Dulverton Library Thursday 8 February 10am-1pm drop-in
Highbridge Library Thursday 15 February 10am-1pm drop-in
Ilminster Library Saturday 10 February 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am
Martock Library Wednesday 28 February 10am, 11am,12am
Milborne Port Camelot Room, Village Hall Tuesday 6 March 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm
Nether Stowey Library Wednesday 14 February 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
North Petherton Community Centre Monday 12 February 10am-1pm drop in
Shepton Mallet Library Tuesday 27 February 2:30pm-5:30pm drop in
Somerton Library Saturday 17 February 9:30, 10.30, 11:30am
Street Library Thursday 8 March 10am, 11am, 12am
Taunton Priorswood Library Tuesday 13 February 2pm-5pm drop-in
Watchet Library Wednesday 7 February 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Wellington Library Saturday 17 February 10am-1pm drop-in
Wiveliscombe Library Wednesday 21 February 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
SCC claim that “The public consultation is proposed to run for 12 weeks to the 22nd April. The proposals and background information will be available publicly online, in paper form in each of our 34 libraries and on application in other formats. Details of the consultation and the dates of consultation events will be sent to a wide range of individuals and groups, including local press, social media, Parish and Town Councils…”
We can confirm that as yet no paperwork has arrived at Leveller Towers.