Library service vital to all

BOOKWORMS have every reason to be worried about the future of our libraries.

They will be one of the first services to become casualties of the cuts, and be “divested” by the county council – and no-one is really clear what is going to happen.

Libraries across Suffolk will close – of that there can be little doubt – with only the largest and busiest surviving.

Felixstowe Library is safe – for a town of its size, it’s one of the most used in the county.

There would be uproar if there was any suggestion of closing it.

I must declare an interest – not only as a library member, but an avid reader and regular user. I buy many books, but also like to tour bookshops, make note of those I want to read and cannot afford – and then order them from our library.

But will we be able to get hold of such a variety of books in future?

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When the county council “divests” libraries, hiving them off to community groups, town councils, library users or even library management to run, undoubtedly less money will go with them – after all, the aim is to cut costs.

It’s all part of David Cameron’s Big Society.

There will be money for some staff, but not as much. The hope will be for volunteers to bear a large proportion of the workload and especially management.

Mr Cameron’s vision is of volunteers falling over themselves, wanting to get involved in such projects.

The truth is there are hundreds of willing people – but they are already very busy.

Every community has its stalwarts, and often they are the ones running not just one organisation, but several groups and societies.

Different clubs, same faces.

Other people are burdened with work, or have young families.

The extra people needed are just not there.

But with the libraries, the problem will not only be people, it will be money to keep the book stock top quality, with all the latest releases, and technicalities over how the service will run.

One of the joys of the brilliant Suffolk Library Service is being able to order any book from any library in its network – and have it delivered free to your nearest library, giving readers access to hundreds of thousands of books, as well as many older and rarer volumes held in the county stock store.

Whether this will continue remains to be seen. Whether its cafes, clubs, services for all ages will, too, is unknown.

It’s vital that libraries are there for all the community – not just the bookworms, but those who occasionally need research or information, or to borrow a DVD or CD. I certainly don’t want to see the library service changed.

? Give me your views – write to richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk or Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

? Read Richard Cornwell’s full column every week in FX – the eight-page pull-out all about the Felixstowe area in the Evening Star every Wednesday.

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