17th Jul, 2019

BREAKING: More library cuts planned across Coventry

Felix Nobes 11th Jan, 2019 Updated: 11th Jan, 2019

MORE jobs are set to go at libraries across Coventry in the latest phase of a council savings plan.

Coventry City Council is set to reduce staff and resources at Aldermoor, Caludon, Canley and Coundon libraries.

A council officer’s report to the cabinet member for education and skills councillor Kevin Maton states: “The changes focus on reductions in the staffing of a number of libraries, the adoption of new ways of working and a reduction in resources purchased by the Library Service.

“The proposals do not include any changes to the number of libraries or their opening hours.

“Plans are being developed to establish ‘Friends of…’ groups for libraries, focusing on Aldermoor, Caludon, Canley and Coundon libraries initially in order to stimulate volunteering and explore the potential for greater community involvement in the running of community libraries.”

The report adds the alternatives could be worse, including closing some of the city’s 17 libraries or reduced opening hours.

The council introduced the Connecting Communities programme in 2015/2016 which resulted in some library services moving to shared premises, being run by volunteers, and some closures.

Volunteers now run Earlsdon, Cheylesmore and Finham libraries, where there are fears of further damage to services.

Arena Park Library was axed and closed in 2016 – less than a decade after it was created as a replacement for the former Holbrook Library.

The council has already saved more than £1.2million in the first two phases of the scheme, the report states.

This phase, the third, identifies a further £320,000 in savings.

Proposals include ‘single staffing’ – with one worker, sometimes supported by a mobile and flexible team of staff travelling between libraries.

Services at Central Library, on Smithford Way, will be reduced to relying on self-service and limited staff supervision from 9-11am Monday to Friday and on Sundays.

The council has dubbed this the ‘Library Express’ model.

The report also states the council could scrap almost all hard copies of newspapers and magazines, making titles available only in digital format.

It also proposes the introduction of a privately run cafe in the Central Library to boost income.

These changes could come into force from April, the report states.

A review will examine reductions in other fixed budgets and into management and non-frontline posts.

When cuts were first announced, campaigners from Save Coventry Libraries handed in a petition signed by nearly 2,000 residents, calling for their protection.

Group member Sarah Smith said: “Libraries are so much more than just books. They are not only food for the imagination, they are safe places for people to go to.

“The cuts impact the vulnerable the most. Librarians are the heart of libraries. Volunteers cannot replace them and provide the same level of service. We oppose any cuts to services and staff.

“Community group led or staffless libraries are unsafe and mostly end up reducing the service or only opening a few days a week.

“Many close in around 18 months anyway.”

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