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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Victory as libraries in Allerdale saved from closure

Allerdale's libraries look to have been saved following public consultation on their future.

Moorclose library photo
Moorclose library will remain open

The county council launched a review earlier this year after falling use. Suggestions included replacing smaller libraries with borrowing points in shops and community centres.

The announcement sparked an outcry in Moorclose and Seaton, which were mooted as areas where that might happen.

A meeting of Allerdale’s local committee heard there were no plans to close them.

Bruce Bennison, county manager for library service review, said they were instead looking to set up friends’ groups at the two libraries after hearing from the consultation how important they were to the community.

The groups would enable the community to enhance the activities at the library beyond those which the county council can fund and provide.

It is also looking at the possibility of developing the local link services at Aspatria library and rolling this out to Cockermouth, Keswick, Maryport, Silloth and Wigton.

The local link scheme would allow library visitors to access other services from the council and, in some cases, other organisations. Aspatria, for example, has an Allerdale council customer service point in its library.

The council is also working with West House, a charity for people with learning difficulties, which has asked whether a Workington branch of Cafe West, which it runs in Whitehaven, could be launched in the town’s Oxford Street library.

Alayne Cowling, area library manager, said that, in light of the consultation, the council knew the importance of Seaton and Moorclose libraries to their users and had no plans to close them.

She added that community use and support was key to their continued success and development.

Mr Bennison said: “We are taking a proactive approach to address to the decline in library use in positive ways, through local committees to take on board feelings, opinions and needs.

“We have no plans to close any libraries.”

Figures released at the meeting showed that all libraries except Seaton and Moorclose had seen fewer active borrowers in September 2011 than their averages in 2009/10. Seaton saw an increase of 113 borrowers, up from 572, while Moorclose’s went from 425 to 498.

Across the county, only a fifth of the 500,000 residents regularly use libraries.

The committee agreed that a working group should be set up to develop plans.

Distington library was also among those mooted for possible closure under the review. The announcement prompted a protest from pupils, who staged a march through Whitehaven.

Its future will be discussed by the Copeland local committee on Friday.

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