Library closures to go ahead despite big visitor numbers

Nelson Library.
Nelson Library.
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Lancashire County Council will have no choice other than to go ahead with library closures despite figures showing Pendle’s libraries were visited 594,646 times in 2015.

Statistics show Colne Library was visited 254,746 times last year while people went through the doors of the Nelson Library on a total of 187,435 occasions.

Trawden Library.

Trawden Library.

There were 62,822 visits recorded at Barnoldswick Library, Brierfield registered 40,179 visits while 20,923 were clocked as visiting Barrowford, 14,076 at Earby, 7,891 at Wheatley Lane and 6,556 at Trawden.

Lancashire County Council has proposed closing 40 of the 74 libraries it operates and Wheatley Lane is definitely one of those closing.

County Coun. Marcus Johnstone, who is member of the cabinet at County Hall, says a decision will be made next month on which specific libraries are to close but that the decision to close any of them is regrettable.

He said: “Although there were 594,000 visits last year to libraries, that clearly isn’t 594,000 different people visiting, there may be one person visiting 100 times.

It isn’t something we want to do, but the money simply isn’t there to keep them open

County Coun. Marcus Johnstone

“There are other issues such as the fact more people are using Ebooks and the changing ways books and services are accessed.

“As for the closures, we will be making a decision on May 12th and that will go out to public consultation before a final decision is made in September.

“As a county council, we are having to make savings of well over £500m. in total and it is down to these savings that libraries will close. It isn’t something we want to do, but the money simply isn’t there to keep them open.

“I think libraries are an important social venue for many people and for some it will be an enormous loss which is why there is no desire to do it.”

Ahead of the county council’s property review, Pendle was split into service areas and the county council is proposing to retain one library per service area.

According to County Coun. Johnstone, this will be set against a backdrop of an deprivation index with the most deprived areas having more chance of libraries being kept open. He said: “The final decision is up in the air, but that is the principle we will be working to.”

A spokesman for the county council added: “In terms of footfall, the numbers show that a large number of people continue to use libraries.

“There is a trend that does show in recent years that although, still high, the figure is decreasing.

“However, that is coupled with an increase in numbers of people using the Ebook service and those numbers are rising. Whichever way people are choosing to use them, libraries are continuing to be well used.”