New era for Southend libraries...but can volunteers make a success of council’s big idea?

Southend Standard: New era for Southend libraries...but can volunteers make a success of council’s big idea? New era for Southend libraries...but can volunteers make a success of council’s big idea?

SOUTHEND Council is preparing to hand over the keys for two of its libraries to volunteers who will be running them.

Westcliff and Southchurch libraries are set to become “community libraries”, run by volunteers rather than fullytrained professional librarians, over the course of the next two years.

It came after senior councillors agreed a controversial shake-up, designed to reshape the borough’s library service for the next 15 years.

Volunteers will also be replacing some paid staff at Leigh and Kent Elms libraries, although some librarians will be retained to run the two libraries in the west of the borough.

Tory councillor Derek Jarvis claims the changes are necessary to keep libraries open as the council struggles to balance its books in the face of a £35million drop in its budget over the next three years. The changes, which also include the closure of Friars and Thorpedene libraries in Shoebury, a new library to replace them in Delaware Road, and the opening of the £27million Forum Southend library in the town centre, will save the authority £378,000 a year from a controllable budget of £2.5million for the next three years.

But opponents fear too few people will step forward, degrading the service and leading to the closure of Westcliff or Southchurch libraries.

Other authorities around the country have already switched to community libraries over the past few years.

The Arts Council says there are already more than 425 community libraries in England – around 12 per cent of all libraries.

More than 120 respondents to a public consultation on the plan said they would volunteer at a community library in Southend, with another 145 saying they might.

Southend Council will begin working with volunteers and community groups next year and hopes to have the community libraries up and running by 2016.

Comments (6)

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8:09am Fri 20 Dec 13

fletch12107 says...

So Friars and Thorpedene are going to close and they are opening a new one in Delaware Rd. Where in Delaware Rd is this going to be? Is the closure of Thorpedene part of the master plan to close Delaware House dementia home?
To all the people that are volunteering I say just think of the people that are going to lose their jobs because of you. If you have free time then volunteer for a charity rather than a council that still pays its executives over £100k a year and one of them is now on a four day week.
So Friars and Thorpedene are going to close and they are opening a new one in Delaware Rd. Where in Delaware Rd is this going to be? Is the closure of Thorpedene part of the master plan to close Delaware House dementia home? To all the people that are volunteering I say just think of the people that are going to lose their jobs because of you. If you have free time then volunteer for a charity rather than a council that still pays its executives over £100k a year and one of them is now on a four day week. fletch12107

3:14pm Fri 20 Dec 13

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

Fantastic news, new blood, away from those died in the wall so called pro's
Fantastic news, new blood, away from those died in the wall so called pro's Nowthatsworthknowing

7:55pm Sat 21 Dec 13

jolllyboy says...

Disgraceful. Why shoud volunteers run council properties and make people redundant when we pay for this service. We want to raise educational standards not take away local access to learning.
Disgraceful. Why shoud volunteers run council properties and make people redundant when we pay for this service. We want to raise educational standards not take away local access to learning. jolllyboy

8:30pm Sat 21 Dec 13

rhowes says...

This is very unsatisfactory. We have suffered 13 years of bad decisions from this Tory cabinet, and this is yet another one.

Branch libraries need to have fully trained professional staff on site.

Years of wasted money from the current spending budget, has left the Council desperate to cut costs. Lets vote this cabinet out next May!
This is very unsatisfactory. We have suffered 13 years of bad decisions from this Tory cabinet, and this is yet another one. Branch libraries need to have fully trained professional staff on site. Years of wasted money from the current spending budget, has left the Council desperate to cut costs. Lets vote this cabinet out next May! rhowes

7:06pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Nebs says...

rhowes wrote:
This is very unsatisfactory. We have suffered 13 years of bad decisions from this Tory cabinet, and this is yet another one.

Branch libraries need to have fully trained professional staff on site.

Years of wasted money from the current spending budget, has left the Council desperate to cut costs. Lets vote this cabinet out next May!
Do you think the same applies, not to libraries, but to the country in general.
[quote][p][bold]rhowes[/bold] wrote: This is very unsatisfactory. We have suffered 13 years of bad decisions from this Tory cabinet, and this is yet another one. Branch libraries need to have fully trained professional staff on site. Years of wasted money from the current spending budget, has left the Council desperate to cut costs. Lets vote this cabinet out next May![/p][/quote]Do you think the same applies, not to libraries, but to the country in general. Nebs

9:25pm Mon 23 Dec 13

rhowes says...

No. The national Government is now fortunately a coalition. This means that no party can dictate all policy without agreement from their partners.

They have to agree, apart from the "red line" issues. Those, they can do deals on, and it works.

I was commenting on our Southend cabinet and it's group of followers who tend to support it 100%, giving opposition no hope of ammending or rejecting bad decisions.
No. The national Government is now fortunately a coalition. This means that no party can dictate all policy without agreement from their partners. They have to agree, apart from the "red line" issues. Those, they can do deals on, and it works. I was commenting on our Southend cabinet and it's group of followers who tend to support it 100%, giving opposition no hope of ammending or rejecting bad decisions. rhowes

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