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Cuts may turn St Just library 'into a book store'

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: February 12, 2014

St Just Library could become more of a book store than a library says local councillor Sue James.    Sue James

St Just Library could become more of a book store than a library says local councillor Sue James. Sue James

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CORNWALL councillor Sue James is launching a campaign to safeguard St Just library after she said cuts to opening hours could turn it into "more of a book store than a library".

Cornwall Council has announced it needs to save £1.3 million from a review of what it calls customer access services – libraries, one stop shops and its call centre.

She said: "It has to find savings of £400,000 from the directorate that covers libraries alone.

"For St Just Library, this means the need to save circa £18,300 and the proposal is to reduce the opening hours by nine hours each week. It will only be open the equivalent of one whole and two half days."

She said this would probably start on June 1 "but could be as early as April".

A public meeting has been arranged for Thursday, February 13, at 6.30pm at the Methodist Chapel Hall, St Just, to discuss the issue.

The councillor added: "I am concerned that reducing the opening hours of our library from the current 23.5 hours to 14.5 hours makes it more of a building storing books than a library. I also fear that having such limited opening hours will see its use further reduced and then it will be too easy to close it.

"I know that many will say that the council can no longer afford to run smaller libraries, but I would like to find out what the local community think and what they might be prepared to do to help."

People are also being encouraged to join the library and are being asked to show their support to a campaign called 'Love St Just Library'.

She said: "I would like the community to record its support for the library in St Just by going to the library on Friday, February 28 and borrowing books. This support will be recorded electronically and I feel will be more powerful than a petition, especially if we manage to empty the shelves.

"It will also encourage lapsed users, or those who have not used the library before, to go through the doors and have a look around. I'm calling this 'Love St Just library Friday'."

Current library opening hours are:

Mondays, 9.30am to 1.30pm; Wednesdays, 9.30am to 5pm; Fridays, 9.30am to 6.30pm and Saturdays, 10am to 1pm.

Mobile library services inrural areas like west Penwith are also under threat.

In January Cornwall Councillors agreed to remove all mobile library and mobile one stop shop services, replacing them with "a range of community based initiatives" in a bid to make further savings.

These could include services such as home delivery and community libraries.

There will be a 12-week consultation with members, town and parish councils, partners and communities over the proposal.

It is proposed that 50 per cent of the current mobile library and mobile one stop shop budget, around £150,000, is used to fund alternative ways of delivering services to those communities affected.

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