Communities urged to make sure they stand up for the future of their local libraries.
COMMUNITIES across North Devon are mobilising forces to protect their local libraries with Braunton and Appledore among those leading the way.
Devon County Council is seeking to cut £1.5million from its libraries budget as part of a restructuring of the service, with many smaller libraries facing an uncertain future and fearing the worst.
In Braunton, residents have banded together to form Save Braunton Library and open the campaign with a public meeting on Wednesday of next week (May 21) at the Black Horse pub in Church Street.
As many people as possible have been urged to go along from 7pm to have their say and help fight the proposals before it is too late.
The county is holding consultations at all local libraries, including Appledore, Northam and Bideford this Friday, at 10am-12noon, 1-3pm and 4-6pm respectively, with more North Devon dates next month.
Author Nick Arnold from Friends of Appledore Library has also urged people to turn out in droves at their local event:
“They must be prepared to talk to the county to help support their library,” he said.
“If they don’t do it now they are going to have to do it later and almost certainly it will be more traumatic later on. The more people who use libraries the more difficult they are to close – use it or lose it is the message.”
The consultation runs until July 17 and while proposals could see libraries in larger towns redeveloped into ‘Devon Centres’ offering a wider range of services, there are fears smaller communities could suffer.
Chulmleigh, Braunton, Combe Martin, Lynton, Northam and Appledore libraries face an uncertain future, with the county suggesting local groups might be able to run some or all of the services, but some worry it will simply lead to closure.
“This proposal has angered many local people and already kids are collecting petition signatures in the school playground,” said Braunton resident Ben Hewitt, who is organising Save Braunton Library.
“It is vital we work together to make our voices heard in the next two months. The closure of our library would hurt thousands of ordinary families in Braunton both today and in years to come.”
The Braunton campaign has already generated huge support from North Devon authors Martin Dorey and Veronica Henry, plus unexpected help from the likes of broadcaster Jeremy Vine and big-name authors Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood, who retweeted it on Twitter to their legions of followers.
“Not only is it unfair to pick on smaller libraries in principle, the reality is Braunton library serves more than 13,000 people, just a few hundred less than some ‘medium to large’ libraries, and is a much loved, lively and important part of our community with one in five people actively using it,” added Mr Hewitt.
Fellow campaigner and local author Tim Kevan, who runs AboutBraunton.com said the library was an integral part of community life for all ages and would be ‘a truly terrible loss to the village’.
Braunton Parish Council has also organised a public meeting in the Parish Hall on Wednesday, May 28 at 7.30pm with the chance to quiz county cabinet members Roger Croad and James McInnes about changes to local services.
To view and have your say on the library service proposals across North Devon, CLICK HERE
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