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Protest over proposal to cut library hours

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

  • Pupils from year seven at St Just School visited the library on Friday. Picture Sue James.

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THE community in St Just came out in force on Saturday to protest at proposed cuts to their local library's opening times.

Cornwall Council is looking for budget cuts and plans to reduce St Just Library's opening by nine hours per week – leaving the equivalent of one full day and two half days.

Locals fear that because the library also serves as a tourist information point, not being open all day on a Friday could affect the town's tourist economy.

St Just Cornwall councillor Sue James organised a public meeting to update the community after she found there was to be no public consultation and from that came events on Friday and Saturday.

'Love St Just Library Friday' saw an estimated 500 people visit the library and take out 4,000-5,000 books on the day.

The idea was that the electronic record of the shelves being emptied would show how much the people of the town appreciate the service.

Mrs James said: "While we did not manage to quite clear the shelves, the library buzzed all day. There was a tremendous atmosphere and a local determination that you could feel and almost touch."

On Saturday townsfolk turned out for a 'Hands Around The Library' event.

Kate Beckly, part of a new Friends of St Just Library group, organised Hands Around the Library.

She said: "As well as providing books, the library is so much more. It provides internet access and nine community groups use the library as a place to meet every week. They may not be able to meet, in the future, if the library opening hours are cut."

Pupils from St Just School were even moved to get involved and a group of Year 7 students visited the library to add their weight to the protests on Friday.

Mrs James said: "The campaign has captured the interest of young and old. They had made banners, wrote letters and chanted 'Save our Library' as I arrived.

"Among the older members of the community I was surprised how many retired librarians we have, plus a whole variety of creative people who described how vital the resource is to them.

"People told me their lives will be impacted significantly by such a drastic reduction of hours."

Mrs James has a meeting arranged at County Hall on March 10 when she will put local views and ideas across.

The Friends have also organised a petition which has already attracted 1,000 signatures.

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