Many of you will be aware of the perilous plight of public libraries, particularly in England and specifically in Lancashire.
I had the opportunity to attend a debate at full council at Lancashire County Council.
The motion, as put forward by the Conservatives, was to extend the current consultation period on the proposed closure of more than 50 per cent of the existing public libraries in Lancashire.
The debate was not dignified, but some key points were made by several members of the Conservative party, the Liberals and one Labour supporter, who represents a constituency in Chorley with a hugely popular and well used library in Coppull.
What was disappointing was that the debate had little to do with libraries, although the Conservative proposer of the motion did speak eloquently about the situation and the effects that mass closures would have in the county.
Mention was made about the superb library service that Lancashire had provided over many years.
I am a qualified librarian. I have worked in public libraries, as well as commercial. I was university librarian at Central Lancashire, then Director of LASER, a UK company that provided services to all UK public libraries, so I have some first hand knowledge.
Lancashire was, and currently still is, one of the best library services. The previous head of Libraries, a professionally qualified librarian, and then the management that followed his retirement, provided superb libraries and revamped many libraries into cheerful, well designed and well stocked spaces, with many additional community services.
What concerned me about the debate was that it seemed to be purely about scoring political points, rather than the consequences to the public, in particular the very young, school children and the elderly.
To propose handing over of libraries to external agencies without any sense of what on earth they would do, and how they would run them is appalling.
To assume that the service can be properly run by volunteers is tantamount to assuming no professional knowledge is required to select stock, promote stock, manage inter-lending, and run groups for those in most need.
Evidence also supports that libraries are less well used under volunteers.
Councillors proposing these drastic cuts are not aware of any of the research that has been conducted over the years into the wider role played by public libraries in their communities.
For a long time it was the public library that was the source of information about medical issues, provided information for the collector of many types of object, helped people starting up new small businesses –I could go on.
There will be many whose lives will be diminished if their library closes.
Can I urge you ALL, to please do something in your power, to help avoid the demolishing of a superb library service.
A thorough review of the accounts would no doubt find sufficient resources to cover the cost of running libraries.
I end by stating the fact:-
“Councils have a legal obligation to provide comprehensive and efficient library services, and must consult with the local population on plans.”
Yes, Lancashire is consulting, but in a very limited way and with a very short timescale.
The Government can and will intervene if a council is planning dramatic cuts!
However, if libraries are taken out of the scope of the service provided by the library authority then they will, on the basis of practice to date, be ignored by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport if it has to assess whether Lancashire County Council’s service is compliant with its statutory duty.
Libraries have been key in the advancement of literacy and learning and a focal point in the aspirations of communities for over 165 years. This must not be allowed to wither.
Frances Hendrix, Chorley
Reflections on North End game
Re: PNE Face in the Crowd, I was pictured on the right hand side of the page, wearing the PNE hat (LEP February 15).
It was an eventful day, perhaps it could be said the match was lacking in real quality for the first 15 minutes.
Then up stood a determined Paul Gallagher, showing the desire and audacity to take the chance, and it went off big style in the Preston end.
A goal keeping error from Ikeme gifted a tidy slot home for Reach, who has been outstanding as of late for us.
The afternoon was optimised by John Welsh’s crunching slide tackle, which rounded off a successful day for fans and players alike.
I think it’s important for Preston fans to remember what the season is about, which is guaranteeing safety in this league.
Top half is an absolute dream. It shows the leaps and bounds the club has taken in recent years.
Personally, I don’t think there shouldn’t be a mention of anything above.
The players are showing the desire and optimism to show what this club is about, heart and soul.
All in all, another successful away game, with multiple strengths shown from individuals. The fans were fantastic.
And I can safely assume that Sir Tom would have been proud of the fans, and credit to the Wolves fans who paid respects also.
Thank you for allowing me to get in touch and express my thoughts towards the match.
George Kneen-Cookson via email
Regarding the article National crown is reward for Laura (LEP February 16), it’s a pity that nothing appeared in any of our national papers again.
On December 24, I emailed the sports editors at the Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Times after Laura Massaro become the World Number One Women’s Squash Player.
Did anything appear in any of our national papers? Nothing!
It’s an utter disgrace, especially when they are looking for success stories in women’s sport!
The LEP has been brilliant in the coverage of Laura’s successes over the years.
Leyland Lions Junior Squash
& Racketball Club