Library cuts will hit ‘most marginalised’ hardest

More than 300 libraries have closed in the UK since 2010 says a reader. See letter
More than 300 libraries have closed in the UK since 2010 says a reader. See letter
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CUTS to library services in the East Riding have been criticised for hitting the most vulnerable hardest.

East Riding Council’s Cabinet have agreed to £1.2m cuts which will see libraries reduce their opening hours by 25 per cent and the mobile library service withdrawn from over 50 rural villages altogether.

Others will still get visits, but less frequently.

Dr Lauren Smith, a former librarian, from the campaign group Voices for the Library, said it was a “crying shame” and said cuts affected the “most marginalised people, those experiencing isolation, elderly people who don’t have families, who have no other contact, who could be using a library for their well-bring and feeling part of a community.”

She added: “In general we are continuing to see a continued salami-slicing approach.

“And when you see how that’s been going on for the past decade it never ends well.

“The places that were being salami-sliced five or ten years ago are now just closing wholesale.”

The cuts, which will come in next year, will see the library at the Multi Service Centre in Brough reduce its hours from 49 to 26, while Driffield and Hessle will each lose nine hours.

Darren Stevens, the council’s head of culture and information, said they were improving what was on offer at libraries including free wifi, and e-books and e-comics.

He added: “This is what our residents said they wanted us to do if we had to save money. We don’t intend there to be any more salami-slicing off the budget in anything like the forseeable future. I think most people will continue to use their library and use it during the hours it opens.

“We have tried to keep the new library hours reflecting when historically they are at their busiest.”

The council says the service has to play its part towards saving a further £60m by 2020.

In other parts of the region, 50 libraries have either closed or are now community-led, 10 mobile libraries have been lost, and one home-service has opened. One of the biggest changes has been in the reliance on communities to run their library services, with 38 libraries now run by volunteers, 20 of which are in Doncaster.