Suffolk Libraries launches donation scheme as budget is cut by 33% since 2010

Suffolk Libraries has launched a customer survey

Suffolk Libraries has launched a customer survey - Credit: Archant

The future of Suffolk’s library service is under review as it faces serious financial obstacles and possible job losses.

Suffolk Libraries’ budget has been cut by a further £200,000 for 2017/18 and year-on-year reductions means it is now 33% less than in 2010.

Today sees the launch of a public survey, asking customers what they want to see protected, and there is also a new membership scheme, which gives people the chance to make an annual donation.

Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “We have been warning that further cuts would be challenging and as we have less money, we will have to make further savings. We want to approach these challenges in the right way, by carrying out a review to help us make a longer-term plan.”

She added: “We must be realistic; staffing is our biggest cost so it is likely there won’t be as many jobs in the future. However, we want to reassure people as much as we can – we do not anticipate that any changes we have to make will include library closures, handing over libraries to volunteers or charging for what the law or our contract says must be free. Our review is likely to take several months and until we’ve done that we can’t say what changes we’ll have to make.”

Tony Brown, chairman of Suffolk Libraries, said leaders were looking at alternative ways to get money as they anticipated funding from Suffolk County Council (SCC) to continue to shrink.

He added: “There is much to be positive about; all our libraries are still open, some have even increased opening hours.”

SCC declined to comment.

The customer survey will run until May 8, 2017 and it can be completed online or paper copies can be picked up from all libraries.

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There will also be events where people can talk to library staff or fill in the survey. These will all run from 10am to 1pm as follows:

• Ipswich Library on Saturday, April 8

• Beccles Library on Saturday, April 22

• Bury Library on Saturday, May 6