Bookworms fight to keep libraries public
June 24, 2011
Worried book lovers have launched a campaign calling on the council to put an end to its plans to hand over management of the borough’s libraries to a private organisation.
Campaigners led by members of the Liberal Democrat party are urging people to sign up to the Save Our Libraries petition which was launched after Wokingham Borough Council’s executive gave the go-ahead for a tender process to begin earlier this month.
Council officers are looking for a partner to take over control of the borough’s 10 libraries in a bid to save £170,000 a year.
But the campaigners say the only way a private company will be able to make a profit will be to close libraries and increase charges for residents.
They also said there is no requirement outlined in the council’s competitive dialogue process which will require a partner organisation to keep the existing libraries open.
Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey, who launched the campaign with Anthony Vick, said: “How is the private company going to make money if the council cannot? They are going to have to close libraries or cut services. Private companies have to make money.”
Ms Shepherd-DuBey, who stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Winnersh ward in the borough elections in May, said she also feared a private company would introduce a charge for borrowing books.
Councillor UllaKarin Clark, executive member for internal services, said there were no plans to close any of the boroughs libraries and the process was about improving the service on offer.
She said: “There is a statutory obligation to provide a library service. We are looking for a partner that could be a church or the voluntary sector or it could be a company.
“Somebody has to come up with something and the executive will have to decide if it is for the benefit of the people that live in the borough.
“If it is not then it is not going to happen but we are in need of a cash injection. We are looking to improve our library service.”
Anyone who wants to learn more about the campaign can visit http://save-our-libraries.blogspot.com.