Voices for the Library are deeply concerned about the recently proposed cuts to the Library Service in Lincolnshire. The proposals include cutting the budget from £6m to £4m, closing 32 out of 47 libraries, cutting 170 jobs (49 FTE’s) and scaling back the mobile service. Looking at the proposals [PDF] in more detail they include the creation of 10 tier one libraries for the most populous urban areas, 5 tier two libraries for the next most populous areas and a targeted mobile and housebound service for the rest. Co-location, shared services, commissioning and volunteers are also mentioned.
If these proposals weren’t drastic enough, they are also proposing to cut the number of PCs available to the public (see section 2.46 of the committee report). This development is particularly worrying as it comes at the same time as the introduction of the online ‘Universal Credits’ system, the e-gov agenda and the implementation of the Public Libraries Information Offer (PLIO) by the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL). Public Library provision of PCs is not, in our view, “nice to have”, a luxury or a welcome bonus, but is intrinsically linked to tackling the digital divide and reflects a commitment to the ethos of free and accessible information and knowledge for all.
Lincolnshire CC have openly stated that they intend to provide a ‘minimum statutory provision’ and have used the examples of the Secretary of State refusing to intervene in the Isle of Wight and Bolton as a basis for this, see section 1.7 of the committee report.
We are concerned that these cuts will only lead to a poorer and less accessible service and will disproportionately hit the most socially and economically disadvantaged members of society at a time when libraries should be supporting and helping them.