Felixstowe: Town urged to play more active part in running library

COMMUNITY leaders are to seek more information before deciding whether to play a lead role in running Felixstowe’s library.

Direct control of the county’s libraries was transferred to the Suffolk Libraries Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) last month as part of changes to cut funding and costs of the service.

Felixstowe Library, one of the busiest in the county, has never been under a real threat of closure but, like all 44 libraries, was told to expect a 30 per cent cut in funding.

The IPS says individual branches can now manage themselves as they want, fixing hours and running special events, while still being part of a large organisation so people can borrow a book from one library and return it to another, and still order books from across the county.

There are no current proposals to restructure the library service or reduce frontline staff.

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Town councillor Michael Sharman, a member of the Felixstowe libraries and heritage advisory committee, said it was essential the town council joined the IPS and possibly tried to secure a seat on the board when it is elected next March.

“We are being encouraged to join because of the council’s role in the community – the indication is that we would be welcomed with open arms – and I think we should put down a firm marker for the town,” he said.

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“We are assured that it will be up to us how much we decide to get involved.

“Some councils want to employ staff, others don’t; some want to develop extra activities at their library, others don’t. There is no hard and fast rules and no obligations. It is not an open-ended chequebook but I think we need to be involved.”

Members of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee decided to write to the IPS to seek further information and clarification of certain concerns before deciding to join.

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