Community-run libraries boost

Wilsden’s volunteer library squad: from left, Simon Dickerson, Jenny Hopkins, Michael Moran and Dorothy Bexon

Wilsden’s volunteer library squad: from left, Simon Dickerson, Jenny Hopkins, Michael Moran and Dorothy Bexon

First published in News

Four community-run libraries in the district are bucking the trend by doubling their visitor numbers, a meeting has heard.

Denholme and Wilsden libraries, together with those in Addingham and Wrose, were taken over by volunteers in 2011 after being threatened with closure.

The libraries, and others that have been moved into alternative public buildings to save overhead costs, were hailed as success stories at a meeting of Bradford Council regeneration and culture overview and scrutiny committee last Thursday night.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, executive member for culture, said volunteers had worked tremendously hard.

But committee members were concerned about plans to axe the mobile library service, under the council’s latest budget proposals.

Committee chairman, Andrew Mallinson, a Craven ward councillor, said: “The mobile service is providing cover for the areas where there are no public libraries.

“My fear is you have got more vulnerable communities in outlying areas that will end up with no service whatsoever.”

And Councillor David Heseltine said even though their visits were short, mobile libraries still served an important social function, particularly for “isolated and vulnerable people”.

He said: “That quarter-of-an-hour or 20 minutes, that might be the only social activity that person gets.”

Coun Hinchcliffe said: “I’m not saying we can get rid of that service because it is not valuable. It is valuable, but it is just one of those difficult decisions we have to make.”

As part of an ongoing review into the district’s libraries service, an external consultant has been commissioned by Bradford Council to look at how effective and efficient each of the branches are.

As reported in last week’s Keighley News, this has resulted in a league table of the best and worst performers being drawn up, with Keighley amongst those at the top and Silsden towards the bottom.

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