by prestwichfocus on 23 January, 2018
We have previously reported on the very significant reduction in opening hours at Prestwich Library (almost a 40% reduction in hours). See story here.
At the last Full Council meeting at Bury Town Hall Liberal Democrat Prestwich Councillor Mary D’Albert asked what steps the Council had taken to look at using volunteers to keep the Libraries open.
Firstly, the Council confirmed that the reduced opening hours were partially as a result of the decision to keep open FOUR libraries rather than THREE. (Last year the Council decided to keep open Radcliffe library, which had been an option in the consultation, as well as the three libraries that were definitely staying open, Prestwich, Bury and Ramsbottom). By keeping open FOUR libraries, whilst he budget for staff remains the same, then all four libraries will be opening less.
We wanted to know if the Council had explored the use of volunteers to help keep libraries open longer. It may be that there are people who would be interested in this as volunteer role which would be of benefit to library users.
What we were told was that it would have been “inappropriate (and unacceptable) to draft in volunteers to try and extend hours or replace missing staffing. We consider that the role of the volunteer is not to replace well trained, experienced staff but to add variety and value to what libraries provide.”
We see the point, and obviously the Council cannot go around replacing paid jobs with volunteers. However given what a huge reduction in service these changes have made, surely a sensible way forwards can be found to keep the library open for more hours than at present.
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