Library closures put before the public

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MEMBERS of the public in Wakefield district are being asked to comment on proposals to close almost half of its libraries.

The consultation exercise to shape the future of the district’s library service will start next week.

The 12-week period of public consultation will begin on Monday and the council is urging the public to give their views by completing a questionnaire which can be found online at www.wakefield.gov.uk/libraryreview and in all libraries across the district.

A council spokesman said: “Since 1992 more than four out of every 10 library users have stopped going into the district’s libraries and new technology means that people may want to reserve and read books online, rather than visit their local library.”

A total of 13 of the 26 libraries could face closure, with the loss of posts equal to 27 full-time jobs. Some could be compulsory.

The libraries under threat are: Ackworth, Altofts, Crofton, Havercroft, Kettlethorpe, Kinsley, Middlestown, Outwood, South Kirkby, South Pontefract, Upton and Walton.

Councillor David Dagger, Wakefield Cabinet member for libraries, said: “This is an extremely important opportunity to improve and modernise our library service, to give people the service they want, and will use, rather than the service they’ve got at the moment.

“There is no doubt that how people use libraries has changed and it is clear that the service we currently provide is not what people want.

“We have no choice but to do things differently and we must recognise that in planning our service for the future, this about providing library services, not just libraries.

“I urge all residents to take part in this consultation – no decisions have been made so this is your chance to tell us how you would like to see the library service improved in the future.”

The consultation period will end on Friday December 2.