I am a member of both Leicester City and Leicestershire County libraries, which I use on average 4 or 5 times per week.
Having no home computer, I use the libraries to check and send emails and for other online work. I also use the libraries for more traditional reasons – books, newspapers, etc. – though much less than I did previously. And I collect public transport information from those libraries which stock it.
Leicestershire County Council are looking to transfer 36 of their 52 libraries over to be run by volunteers, with the remaining 16, the busiest ones, having their opening hours cut by 20% by closing at the quietest times.
We have every sympathy with the Council’s financial difficulties but we feel the usage figures on which they based their assumptions are flawed and a serious underestimate. They’ve not taken into account the effect of closure of a library on the local economy or looked at alternative ways of keeping these libraries open, e.g. by redistributing one member of staff from the main libraries together with one volunteer to keep a local library open.
These closures would affect many vulnerable people, including job seekers, really badly. Many job application details are now only available online, so such people would effectively be largely excluded from the jobs market if they don’t have a home computer.
And all the libraries I use have a huge variety of activities available. Where would these go if those libraries close?
We’re looking to work with the Council to try to get them to change their approach.
Mr Terry Kirby, Leicester