A COUNCILLOR made “a plea for north Rotherham” as she bemoaned insufficient library provision in the area.
Cllr Maggi Clark said Thorpe Hesley’s tiny library could barely be classed as one when compared with modern centres elsewhere.
Rotherham Borough Council proposals to save £474,000 by 2019 will see all 15 libraries stay open but some will move to single staffing “where appropriate and safe”.
Maltby library is moving to the neighbouring customer service centre and the mobile service, which has 337 users, will be axed.
The plan is for libraries to become community hubs, hosting more activites and providing better access to modern digital technology.
Cllr Taiba Yasseen, Cabinet member for cultural services, said: “Our libraries are no longer about the hush but about the buzz we want to create in communities.”
But Cllr Clark, Keppel ward, said: “We have no shops in Thorpe, we have no post office. We would have liked to have put the post office in the library, but you can’t get more than six people in the library.
“To see the size of Thorpe Hesley and how big the estates are up there, it’s just not sufficient. I couldn’t class that as a library. It’s a small room with books in.
“The next library is either Greasbrough or Kimberworth, which are miles away for people who don’t have cars, who rely on public transport.”
The proposals were discussed at last Friday’s (2) Overview and Scrutiny Management Board meeting.
Cllr Yasseen said: “Ninety per cent of the public have this deep emotional connection to their local library, yet 90 per cent of the public don’t use their local library.
“We have got to somehow bridge that gap, so that library services and library buildings become relevant for today.”
Cllr Bob Walsh pointed out that rural residents tended to be further from a library and served by poorer broadband internet.
More should be done to include commercial services in libraries to bring in cash, Cllr Allen Cowles suggested.
Cllr Jeanette Mallinder said there had been uproar when Dinnington’s library was closed — but it was now part of a busy community hub at Dinnington Resource Centre. She added: “It’s not easy but it can work.”
There were 1,475 consultation responses and about two-thirds disagreed with cutting staffing.
A council spokesman said: “There was a strong feeling that this would impact on customer care and service quality.
“In order to address these concerns, whilst the council will need to reduce the number of staff, attempts to minimise where possible the number of locations and times that single staffing will apply.”
Most residents have a library within two miles. The council has said it will use a small mobile vehicle to serve areas outside this distance, including at Woodsetts Primary School.
Cabinet members are expected to agree the changes at a meeting on Monday (12).
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