Public libraries – like the NHS – are a vital service backed by Act of Parliament. Wherever you live in the UK your local authority is bound by law to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service.
Public libraries are an asset and investment. They are a lifeline at the heart of our communities – the safe place where people of all ages find information and advice, learning and leisure, companionship and activity, peace and reflection. They are a gateway to local services. They help job seekers find work. They support businesses, visitors, and those seeking help.
Since 2005, Herefordshire Council has slashed library opening hours by almost 40%. That’s not all. In 2013, councillors seriously considered scrapping all libraries in the county except for Hereford library. The strength of opposition from local people and hard work behind the scenes by the library service stopped this and saved our libraries. A properly funded library service is vital to the health and wellbeing of our local communities, particularly in the current changing and challenging times. Libraries need to be supported and improved, not cut back or closed. If we work constructively as partners – county, town and parish councils, library professionals, library support groups, volunteers, education and health bodies – our library service can prosper.
Representing library users throughout the county, we call on Herefordshire Council to:
- Recognise that the current network of libraries in our market towns and parishes is the minimum required to support our local communities and to give reasonable access to the service
- Invest in the current network to avoid isolating residents from access to services, learning and leisure
- Ensure that our library service is staffed by appropriate and sufficient professional staff, so that it can function effectively
- Allow the library professionals to make any decision to recruit and support volunteers, recognising that volunteers cannot be effective without the guidance of professional paid staff
- Support our libraries so that they can continue to develop as community hubs which can provide:
- a range of activities and information to encourage health and well-being
- an economic contribution to their local communities
- provision of both face-to-face support and digital/online access to information and advice
- support for residents who need help accessing online services
- a key resource for the development of literacy and knowledge