YP Letters: Don’t belittle the efforts of library volunteers

Criticism of library volunteers is mean-spirited, says Angela Moreton.
Criticism of library volunteers is mean-spirited, says Angela Moreton.
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From: Angela Moreton, Chandos Avenue, Leeds.

I REFER to the letter from M Vaughan of Sheffield (The Yorkshire Post, September 24). In connection with those former council-run branch libraries now served by volunteers, your correspondent is of the opinion that “a library without paid and trained staff isn’t a library” but a community centre.

This seems to me both hair-splitting and nit-picking. Perhaps your correspondent is, or was, a librarian? Definitions of “library” do not necessarily include the presence of paid and trained staff. The books are the important element. Public libraries have a remit to serve the community, which they continue to do by the teams of volunteers who have freely given of their time and interest to provide facilities for others: not just the lending of books but also reading groups, story times for young children and computer access – all facilities provided by council-run branches.

A vital part of the library service is to provide a focus and resources for community events. It is to their shame that in recent years many councils have actually sold off much of their stock of books and sheet music. In the face of so many library closures and the resulting detriment to local activities, volunteers are essential, and it is mean-spirited and patronising of your correspondent to belittle their efforts.