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Suffolk: Two-thirds of county’s libraries facing the axe - full list

PUBLISHED: 15:33 18 January 2011

Endeavour House

Endeavour House

Archant

CAMPAIGNERS spoke of their devastation last night after it was revealed that 29 libraries across Suffolk are facing the axe.

Two-thirds of the county’s 44 libraries will close if no-one comes forward to take them over as Suffolk County Council tries to save 30% of its £9million library budget over the next three years.

A consultation exercise is being launched today by the county council in a bid to find community groups, individual volunteers and parish councils willing to come forward and take over the running of their local library – or see its doors closed for good.

Judy Terry, county councillor responsible for libraries, said: “We are hoping that people will come forward with their ideas but the fallback position is that if we don’t get those responses, then 29 libraries do have to close.

“As a child I used to spend every Saturday afternoon in my local library right up until my teens, but we do have to be realistic and realise we can’t continue operating on the same basis as we have done in the past.

“We are in a different financial environment and all councils and the Government are having to make very significant savings.”

The council is hoping community groups will come forward to take over the libraries before the consultation closes at the end of April.

But campaigners are outraged at the idea of losing the county’s precious library resources.

Roger Mackay, who organised a protest at the weekend against the cuts in Ipswich, said: “It’s my worst fears confirmed – I think it’s absolutely appalling.

“Libraries are an important part of the fabric of every community and I think it’s devastating that they should say 29 face closure.

“I don’t think their plans are realistic because I don’t ever see how volunteers, however well meaning they might be, could ever offer the same service as a professional. It takes three years to train as a librarian and I can’t see any volunteer being able to match that.”

County councillor Richard Kemp, who could see two libraries close in his Melford constituency, said: “I think it’s very disappointing.

“If we want young people to get into reading – which is more educational than watching television or playing games – it’s a real backward step.

“I just don’t think the groundwork has been done. Libraries were almost an institution to educate people before we ever had an education system.

“There is absolutely no small print or detail to give anybody any idea of whether or not they would be interested.”

Meanwhile, the shock waves have echoed across the county, with Steve Smedley, of pressure group Save Leiston Library, vowing to fight the plans.

“Sadly it is not a surprise,” he said. “It is something I have been expecting, especially given other experiences across the country.

“Particularly in Leiston it is going to be quite a blow. It provides an incredibly important service, not just for borrowing books but also for IT support.

“People in the local area will be fighting this tooth and nail.”

Fears have also been raised over children’s literacy once the cuts go through, as the latest SATs results for seven-year-olds show Suffolk’s youngsters are already underperforming in English compared to the national average.

Full details of the proposals are available at http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/librariesconsultation2011

The full list of libraries under threat is:-

Aldeburgh

Brandon

Bungay

Capel St Mary

Clare

Debenham

Elmswell

Eye

Framlingham

Glemsford

Great Cornard

Ixworth

Kedington

Kesgrave

Kessingland

Lakenheath

Lavenham

Leiston

Long Melford

Needham Market

Oulton Broad

Rose Hill (Ipswich)

Saxmundham

Southwold

Stoke (Ipswich)

Stradbroke

Thurston

Westbourne (Ipswich)

Wickham Market

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34 comments

  • "where else can you buy a good book for 20p?" Try a charity shop or car boot sale. Selling second handdamaged and end of range books like that is not a sustainable business model. As for borrowinglending music and cinematic DVDs why is the State directly competing for such business with the much more efficient private sector. You wouldnt expect the council to start selling milk and bread against ASDA and the Co-op. The State is bloated and costly - cut it back to the basics.

    Report this comment

    Steve Blake

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Three years to train as a librarian? That made me laugh.

    Report this comment

    Ted Maul

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • How can they close Leiston, Aldeburgh & Saxmundham librarys, surely the residents in these small rural towns deserve at least one library??? As long as the fat cats still get their over inflated salaries I suppose thats all that matters. Keep on paying your council tax eh!!

    Report this comment

    missT19

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

  • I remember a couple of years ago reading a piece on the bbc world pages about an under developed african community that had been given funding and the community could chose how to spend it. They turned down a hospital, a new school, and many other basic facilities and opted for the money to be spent on a library. They wanted books and learning opportunities so they could learn how to better themselves. Hopefullly theirs will still be there after suffolk has closed ours.

    Report this comment

    Howard Smith

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

  • It's a shame that these libraries are closing. They provide more than just books, there are numerous groups for young and old that are run by the libraries, the provision of internet access, and of course games for consoles. Someone commented on the fact that these are not 'free' as we always pay somewhere, which I guess is true, but some of the people who use the computers are not able to afford their own PC's, or buy their kids their own games, so why should they be penalised because SCC has got itself in such a financial state. Some of the staff did not know what was happening with the library closures or which ones were actually closing until this story broke. Which I think is absolutely terrible. Andrea keeps banging on about her vision and communication... time she justified herself to why this keeps happening.

    Report this comment

    Bookworm :)

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

  • I learnt today that some staff did not know that their library was due for closure until a member of the public told them this morning. I think that this is appalling. What are HR doing?

    Report this comment

    Ellie

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • I only found out when I went to my local library this morning, the staff were not happy as the first they knew they were on the list was from the paper this morning! I think it is very sad - my 2 children love the library, my son's reading espacially has come on leaps and bounds.

    Report this comment

    Millie

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • all libraries should be closed , if people can afford £5 for a packet of fags ,or £20 to watch a football match , then surely they can afford a book ,,

    Report this comment

    pablo gonzalas

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • The Suffolk Library service is fantastic. The people who work as librarians are great people. This is a terrible shame. I always have a book with me and 910 times it is one from a Suffolk library. My two young sons regard reading a book as fun and something normal because they see their Dad doing it. Well it is fun and it is something normal and it is about to be made a bit more difficult at a time when the literacy of boys is of real concern. As a consequence my children are well above average with their reading at school. This decision is robbing other children of the same opportunities.

    Report this comment

    Concerned

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • I am Dogberry (not Jo Swinton) Perhaps the Tories who run SCC will allow a secret vote for their members over their "cut and shut" policies such as the School Crossing Patrols and Libraries...maybe there are some Conservatives who care about these things beyond the misleading mantra from them about their being no alternative. Perhaps Archant could throw down the gauntlet on behalf of the "little people" in the "Big Society? Also the comment from Ted Maul demonstrates a singular lack of knowledge of Library Science... he should go onto the Library Association website and find out what the course requirements and details are before sounding off.

    Report this comment

    Dogberry

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Sad to see the cultural barbarians destroying a wonderful free educational resource. Hopefully outraged residents will volunteer to keep them open. . Essex County Council is waiting to learn what the government grant will be before doing the same. The announcement of the ruthless attack on essential services will probably be by the end of February.

    Report this comment

    Andy Hamilton

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • I used to be a big user of libraries but for at least 5 years I have not visited one. Why? The answer is the biggest library in the world is at my fingertips. Even on my rubbish slow broadband connection in rural Suffolk I can learn a new language, find DIY manuals, read every sporting result and even read entire books online. Most stuff is free, some stuff costs but it is pennies. Libraries in every large village in the county is an out-of-date extravagance that the council cannot justify. How many of those petitioning to keep them open will be prepared to volunteer to man the desks?

    Report this comment

    Steve Blake

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • It does seem a poor decision, particularly as libraries benefit the less well off. Hopefully they'll realise this before it's too late... Steven Quas

    Report this comment

    Steven Quas

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

  • I work in one of the libraries on the list. We have known about this for quite awhile. Plans are in place for most of the libraries to be taken over by community groups. It could be a good thing for small libraries, we will be able to offer what our borrowers want and not what we are forced to provide by the council. It's not all bad.

    Report this comment

    libraryowl

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • This proposal is an outrage. Of course our libraries have to move with the times, but they are a fantastic resource and an ideal hub for the local community. Councillor Judy Terry states: "We may have to close 29 libraries." Then, in the very next sentence she adds: "The prospects are exciting for a library revolution." What a classic example of Orwellian doublespeak! Lets hope the only revolution we see is at the next local elections when we can vote out those seemingly hell-bent on decimating our services.

    Report this comment

    Janet Snell

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • What a sad day. The library is the only place my son can go to on his own, safely, in Eye. It not only provides a rich enviornment to nuture his enjoyment of books, it provides a vital stepping stone to him gaining independence in a controlled and familiar place. There is literally nowhere else for young people to go to.

    Report this comment

    dahlia

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • who was it who said 'when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun?' Ouch, have we got to the stage where those who can't afford to buy the books will not be able to get them to read any more? Will this mean the mobile libraries as well or have these hopefully been forgotten? It would seem that we are slowly but surely returning to the times when the only bok people had to read was the bible in church. What happened to the political ideal of Education, education...?

    Report this comment

    maggie andersen

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

  • This is heart-breaking news. I've used libraries my whole life - they've been an invaluable way of furthering my education and developing my mind. A nationwide network of libraries open to all seemed one of the very pinnacles of a free and civilised society. This is awful news.

    Report this comment

    Baron Samedi

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • what if the local library became the local post office as well ??

    Report this comment

    richard everitt

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Radical reform of the library service is long overdue. The "service" is rooted very firmly in the past, serves a very limited number of people, is a typical nanny state provision, is being rapidly overtaken by the information revolution, is not cost effective , has failed to modernise and is without a coherent business. model. No wonder it's heading for a long overdue chop.

    Report this comment

    Philistine

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

  • we cant let the libraries close,ive used them all my life,they are a real community asset,you can read magazines and newspapers,access information both online and from the staff,as well as borrowing books,with cutbacks people will want to borrow films rather than go to the cinema,this can be done at the library, lets not forget you can also buy books that they sell off,where else can you buy a good book for 20p?not everyone can afford to buy books from the high street.this government will not be content until everything we once were proud of including the post offices which also do a good job are nothing but a distant memory,WE CANNOT AND MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

    Report this comment

    tracy apps

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • This county is an utter disgrace. Abolition of school crossing patrols, closure of community facilities like libraries. You don't see such disgraceful and selfish acts by neighbouring Essex County Council - also a rural Tory run county council who is as rich as Suffolk and pays their chief executive more. Suffolk disgusts me. People never fight for or want to protect anything here - they just let it rot and exacerbate this town and county of dullards. The so called elected members should feel thoroughly ashamed.

    Report this comment

    TheBookWorm

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

  • The council have squandered money over the years on (amongst other things) a glass palace for a headquarters, a very expensive chief exec., closing middle schools (against the wishes of those actually involved) - now they want to ruin the chances of young children in the county from becoming avid readers. How is Sudbury going to cope with all the clients from Clare, Glemsford, Cornard, Lavenham Melford and their own clients efficiently? What a mess - don't blame the last govt. they run local affairs and anyway what did the opposition do?

    Report this comment

    Victor Flute

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Library Science? That made me laugh some more.

    Report this comment

    Ted Maul

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • We dont need libraries- they are not used enough or cost effective. With the state the country is in it is not a necessity. Lets get in the modern world everything is available electronically, instantly and without killing off trees. Even new colleges dont have big libraries- they have a small one or none at all.

    Report this comment

    Stevie B

    Friday, January 21, 2011

  • Oh No! very annoyed about this I use Westbourne Library a lot Whenever I read or hear about a book new or old I immediately reserve it and collect from there. To be the first person to have a brand new book is childlike....but very satisfying......and all for free! As someone has already mentioned, for many people the computer facilty will be a big loss.

    Report this comment

    Alex Prowse

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Radical reform of the library service is long overdue. The "service" is rooted very firmly in the past, serves a very limited number of people, is a typical nanny state provision, is being rapidly overtaken by the information revolution, is not cost effective , has failed to modernise and is without a coherent business. model. No wonder it's heading for a long overdue chop.

    Report this comment

    Philistine

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

  • "....and all for free!" and "..a wonderful free educational resource" I must have missed something. Are the books left there by the toothfairies? Are the librarians doing it all voluntarily? Are the power companies supplying electricity to libraries out of the goodness of their incredibly stony hearts? There is no such thing as "free" when it comes to the State providing something. Someone else has to pay; usually those, the big majority caught in the middle - too poor to pay for expensive tax accountants and too "rich" (!) to get tax credits. Wise up please and stop thinking things are free; there is always a cost.

    Report this comment

    SuffolkLIberty

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • In response to libraryowl I know that a lot of libraries have support in the community but does that run to providing a service for free. Quite right too but who will run the libraries and pay for the book stock. What happens when the volunteer does not show up for work. Who will pay for the redundancies. Yes you are right we will. And when Suffolk is not running the service will our community charge go down. No, of course it will not. It will go to pay other authorities like Essex who are going to choose our books in the future. I will no doubt enjoy reading about the history of Southend when in Lowestoft. Wake up before it is too late.

    Report this comment

    Rendall

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

  • "Three years to train as a librarian? " uhmmm. indeed ....and just 10 mins for even a senior citizen to use a search tool like Google! I have stage coach drivers and telegram riders in mind - times change and change quickly.

    Report this comment

    Steve Blake

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • What Philistines! I am speechless at this barbaric outrage. Time to vote these jokers out surely? This will be a very big issue and hopefully can bring the current administration to their senses.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Woolnough

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

  • Shocking! Me and my family we have to undertake a 30 mile round trip to get to the nearest library when the closures kick in. What happened to the Government's promise that education, for which libraries are a key part, won't be affected by the cuts?

    Report this comment

    MikePearce

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Whilst it was Labour's mismanagement of the economy that has led to this horrific mess, I would like to see our complacent [and unchallenged] Conservative County Councillors fighting much harder; defending SCC's libraries rather than defending their CEO's perks !

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

  • Our country is being decimated .... but that is what the electorate voted for and so only have themselves to blame for living in a 4th World country.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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