• Newly created campaign group work to keep Ottery’s library open

    7th July 2014 | News | Claire
  • The chairman, James Goddard, told a meeting of friends, held in the library on 1st July, “we know that times are hard for many local organisations but we believe that our efficient and valuable library deserves to survive and to continue serving the people of Ottery and district. We shall be doing all we can to help achieve this.

    Please complete the survey forms in the library and let us have your views on our library and how we can save it. Everyone is welcome to attend our next meeting, in the library, at 7.00 pm on 5th August.”

    Devon County Council are intending to cut library expenditure in the county by £1.5 million by 2016/17 and one plan may require the Ottery Library to cut its annual cost of £43,000 by a substantial 50 per cent, which is more than the cut expected to be imposed on larger libraries.

    The Friends are considering how to provide support by identifying ways in which financial savings could be made and whether fund-raising activities could be developed. The role of libraries has changed over the years so the committee is studying whether there are more innovative ways in which the library could be used by the community.

    “We are keen to represent the views of local people to the library and to the Devon Library service and, of course to encourage even wider use of the library. We want to hear from local people who have any ideas on how this valuable local resource can be sustained. Time is not on our side: We aim to send a submission to Devon Council by 17th July but a final decision on the fate of the libraries may not be taken until the autumn or later.” 

    Members of the Friends committee are having meetings with other libraries, Friends of Libraries, local organisations and other interested parties, so that a coherent and informed overall plan can be given to county council officials. Contact with local schools is proving successful and, as James Goddard pointed out, “encouraging young people to develop a love of reading and books is something that cannot be costed but it is fundamentally important”. 

    Philip Algar, a member of the committee, said that the Ottery Library, although denied significant investment and confronted by reduced opening hours, compared well with other local libraries, especially the larger ones, on costs and book issues.

    For example it was in the best 12 libraries, out of 48, in cost per book issued and was fourth in the whole county on costs per head of local population. “As the population of Ottery is likely to expand faster than in many parts of the county, having an effective and professionally-run library, which also has a very valuable community role, will become even more important.”

    The group has just set up a Facebook page: search for FOOL