Libraries Closed and Opening Hours Slashed as 76 Jobs Go

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bartlett

THREE libraries in Liverpool will close, with opening hours slashed at 17 others and 76 jobs lost, it was announced last night.

Liverpool Council revealed it also plans to scrap its mobile library service - although home deliveries will still be available - in a bid to save pounds 2.2m a year from its pounds 8m library budget.

The council proposes to: * Close Edge Hill, Woolton and Great Homer Street libraries; * Reduce Allerton and Norris Green libraries from opening seven days to five; * Slash opening at Toxteth and Breck Road libraries from seven to four days; * Operate remaining community libraries four days a week, instead of six.

The council said it was prepared to hand libraries earmarked for closure over to community groups if they want to operate them on a voluntary basis.

Central Library will be the only premises open seven days a week, once it reopens in 2013 after a pounds 50m refurbishment.

Childwall, Old Swan, Kensington, West Derby, Wavertree, Spellow, Sefton Park, Fazakerley, Lee Valley and Dovecot libraries will open four days a week, instead of six.

The number of people employed in the library service will be reduced by more than a third, with 76 of 210 jobs lost.

The Labour-run council's ruling cabinet is set to approve the proposals tomorrow . Cllr Wendy Simon, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: "Given the current financial situation we face, doing nothing is not an option if we want to invest in maintaining a modern and comprehensive libraries service.

"I am hopeful we may be able to find community organisations to operate Edge Hill, Great Homer Street and Woolton, in the same way we transferred Croxteth."

Cllr Richard Kemp, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: "This will hit the education needs of the community and it will impact on the elderly particularly hard, because libraries are like a social centre for them. …