The opening hours for six out of eight libraries across Folkestone & Hythe District could be slashed by a staggering 85 hours, if KCC’s proposals to save £1 million get the go ahead. The only libraries to remain unaffected will be Lyminge; which may see an increase of six hours opening time, and Sandgate which will see no change to its opening times.
KCC are looking to save £1 million across two years for all 99 libraries in Kent. The savings would come from reduced staff costs and redundancies and possible not fixing holes in roofs.
Between April 2014 and March 2018 all eight libraries in the district have cost £3.66 million
Year on year numbers of visits to our libraries has on the whole fallen across all eight libraries. Could we turn this around by making them places which accept books in any form and from anyone who wishes to drop one off at the library, a repository for community talent —children submit tales told in crayon about their toys; teenagers tell tales of angst and old people drop by with their memoirs, for example. It is not a new idea.
As we visit libraries less so the numbers of items borrowed has fallen according to the KCC data. We now borrow less books, CD’s and DVD’s. This no doubt reflects the ways we choose to obtain information, music or film. The rise of Amazon, Spotify and Netflix over the last four years has no doubt had a significant affect on how we interact with our libraries.
This too can be seen in the amount of computer hours library members have booked and used across our eight libraries in the district.
Our libraries are more than about just borrowing books, CD’s or DVD’s. They are art galleries, museums, community spaces, places to knit and natter, learn about our local area, Dementia One-Stop-Shops and so much more.
Each of our eight libraries across our most wonderful and beautiful district give meaning to the areas they service beyond measurable economic benefit/value and any loss of opening times would create communal deprivation for us all . Libraries are places in which all of us have and can develop a real love of books, music, film and art. They should also remain at the very heart of our communities. They are exciting places in which each of us can encounter information which might spark an interest that may just become a real passion.
You can let KCC know you care about your libraries locally as they will be having two drop-in events at libraries in the district where you can talk to staff about the strategy and proposals.
Folkestone Library, Grace Hill CT20 1HD on Sunday 6th January between 10:00 – 13:00
New Romney Library 82 High Street, TN28 8AU on Wednesday 9th January between 9:30 -12:30
If you cannot get along to one of these two events, please take the time to fill in the questionnaire regarding the ongoing library consultation which closes at midnight on the 29th Jan 2019. After all, the truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. We should, if we value these things begin to use our libraries once again, if not, in time libraries may well become a relic of the past.
The Shepwayvox Team – Not owned by Hedgefunds or Barons