'Save our libraries' - call to arms from Shropshire campaigners

Campaigners today launched a call to arms to save Shropshire's libraries from closure.

'Save our libraries' - call to arms from Shropshire campaigners

Shropshire Libraries Yes Campaign branded plans to "offload" libraries to volunteers as "totally inadequate".

Members of the group say they want to challenge Shropshire Council to come up with a solution that will ensure facilities remain for future generations.

They have called a public meeting to rally support and have demanded talks to find a solution to the crisis.

The future of local library services are in doubt as Shropshire Council looks to save £1.3 million. It is hoped 15 of Shropshire's libraries could be managed by community organisations, while the county's seven principal libraries would become "community hubs" working in partnership with other bodies.

The public rally will take place in the lecture hall of the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury on September 24.

Campaign spokesman Michael Green said: "The meeting is open to all who value their libraries, want a secure and sustainable future for them and wish to see them improve and thrive.

"It was called to challenge the council policy about libraries.

"They are hanging them out to dry and offloading them to volunteers.

"We think this is totally inadequate. You cannot run a library with volunteers.

"Ideally we would like to see the library stay with the council.

"Shawbury is already threatened with closure and may be replaced with a mobile library service which is not what it should be.

"The council does have a statutory duty to provide and promote a comprehensive and efficient library service."

The meeting aims to come up with a plan of attack for a campaign to save libraries.

Neil Willcox, of Shropshire Council, said: "No conclusions have been made but we do know that we need to do things differently and at a lower cost. This is about exploring ideas and options. We want there to be a library that works and is even better for the local community."

The meeting has been welcomed by campaigners fighting to safeguard Ellesmere Library. A friends group was created by Ellesmere Library Volunteers and the Library Reading Group in a bid to safeguard the town's library. Shropshire Council has revealed that one of the proposals could see the library service move to the nearby Meres Day Centre.

The libraries in Craven Arms and Highley have already been transferred to community management – the former to South Shropshire Furniture Scheme, the latter to Halo Leisure within the Severn Centre.

And plans are being drawn up to transfer libraries in Bishop's Castle, Broseley, Shifnal and Church Stretton to community groups.

  • The public meeting will start at 7pm. Organisers are asking anyone hoping to attend to email shroplibyes@gmail.com.

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