17th Jan, 2019

Bromsgrove residents' fears over 'library staff cuts'

Harry Leach 4th Jan, 2019 Updated: 11th Jan, 2019

THERE were angry reactions at Bromsgrove Library last Friday when Worcestershire County Council chiefs revealed it could stay open – but at a cost of staff jobs.

The county’s library service needs to find savings of £1million this year and no library in Worcestershire has been considered ‘safe’.

At Bromsgrove Library’s consultation, plans were outlined for a new ‘Open Plus’ automated system being installed.

Entry would be via card and pin, with CCTV acting as security and self-service machines and computers doing away with the need for staff.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Installing Open Plus would be a one time investment and would save the council money in the future.

“More than 70 per cent of the budget each year is spent on staff.”

She added if Open Plus was given the go-ahead the library could be open earlier and for longer.

“Volunteers could also help maintain the library at certain points throughout the day,” she said, adding such measures were proposals and nothing final had been agreed.

But most residents said a library without librarians would become ‘soulless’ and ‘impersonal’ and could lead to anti-social behaviour.

University student Harrison Clarke said: “I don’t think the council is seeing the bigger picture and are only thinking short-term savings rather than long-term. We don’t want librarians to lose their jobs. It’s not a viable option.

“They are so knowledgeable and do so much more than just helping you choose a book.”

Former librarian Brenda, 78, said: “How could we possibly safeguard our children if there is no staff there?

“We need staff members available at all times to help manage any problems which might occur.”

The consultation period to consider the future of the library service has been extended until the end of February with a final decision on the future of Worcestershire’s libraries expected in the summer.

People can visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/libraries or their local library to have their say as part of the consultation.

What do you think about the proposals for ‘Open Plus’ libraries? Email your views to editor@bromsgrovestandard.co.uk or write to the address on page eight.

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