Books take place by pints and post

BOOKS will soon appear among pints of beer and stamps after councillors approved plans for three new "Library Links" in Suffolk yesterday .Small collections of popular books and recent bestsellers will be placed in the Post Office and village stores in Badwell Ash and Rougham as well as the Cross Keys pub in Redgrave.

BOOKS will soon appear among pints of beer and stamps after councillors approved plans for three new "Library Links" in Suffolk yesterday .

Small collections of popular books and recent bestsellers will be placed in the Post Office and village stores in Badwell Ash and Rougham as well as the Cross Keys pub in Redgrave.

The new links, which are expected to open in March next year, aim to make books more available to people in rural communities who cannot take advantage of the mobile library stops as they work or study.

The county council budget for this year allowed £10,000 to be used to set up the three links with a further £12,000 for the running costs, including a fee of about £1,000 for the business hosting the service.


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Yesterday Cllr Kathy Pollard, who is leading the proposals, said: "The businesses we are using will attract those people who do not normally use libraries as well as the traditional users.

"The Department of Culture Media and Sport cited the Library Links as examples of good practice.

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"One of the places is a pub and this again shows how we are aiming the service at different sections of the population. We have looked for places where staff are enthusiastic.

"They are going to hold more popular books that are regularly changed and the books will be displayed with their faces on show to encourage browsers."

Seven Library Links have opened in the county since the pilot scheme was launched in 1999 and on average they each issue about 70 titles a month.

The new links will not offer self-service access to the library catalogue, as this was not as popular as anticipated and users can access it via the internet at home, but computers will be needed for stock control, reservations and returns.

Access to the businesses that host the service may have to be improved and the owner will be responsible for promoting the link, with its performance being monitored fortnightly by the council's library staff.

Although the links were originally expected to reduce or refocus the mobile library visits, the council has discovered that this service is still needed, particularly for the elderly, young children and their carers.

Cllr Pollard said: "Obviously we are not going to replace mobile libraries but the use of mobile libraries is declining nationally, and not just in Suffolk, due to the times people can access them."

After the meeting Cllr Charles Michell, for the Hartismere division, said he thought it would be "more appropriate" to locate the Library Link at Rickinghall and Botesdale rather than the Cross Keys pub in Redgrave.

He added: "I do not see that there's any room in the pub for the books. When it is at peak time there will be no space for people to browse and I don't know to what extent the publican has been consulted."

Cllr Joanna Spicer, for the Blackbourn division, said the scheme was a "good idea" but there were problems with the Stanton Library Link.

She said: "It is not being properly supported. There are not enough books there and a lot of the bookshelves are left empty.

"When the computer breaks it sometimes takes days to repair. The other thing is that they have said they will spend £500 on promoting each Library Link but I don't think they have spent £100 on marketing the Stanton one."

The county council aims to eventually pinpoint between 25 and 35 possible sites for Library Links across Suffolk.

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