Give libraries a future lifeline

Changes to our library service have been announced this week as part of a cost cutting exercise.

We have been lucky this time around and only minor changes to opening hours have been implemented.

The future of the public library service in England is a major national concern and subject of debate at a variety of levels.

Many column inches are devoted to it in newspapers up and down the land as those fighting the retain the service fight their corner.

Here in Derbyshire we have little to worry about as yet. Most of our tiny libraries are to stay open.

But the question mark over their future will always remain while the authorities are faced with slashed budgets.

That is why it is important that our libraries maintain a high profile in the community; are vibrant and well used.

In Matlock, we have lost a couple of early evening opening hours on a Monday. This we are told was done in consultation with users.

We can therefore presume that few people used the facilities on a Monday evening so that must be fair enough.

If cutting back on these hours keeps somewhere else open then that has to be common sense.

My fear, though, is that further cuts will me made if it is seen that the library is not being used at other times during the week.

The ‘use it or lose it’ argument is an old one but it always rings true.

It is no good people like me complaining when the service is under threat or closed if, while it was open, we didn’t use it.

I have a library card and do use it. Not every week maybe, but probably every three when I have to take the books back. And if I want them a little longer I can always renew easily online.

It is worth taking a look to see what is on offer. It is not just fiction on the shelves – there are maps, guide books, and cookery books.

Let’s be grateful that this time around we still have a library but take heed that unless we support it we may very well be fighting for its retention in the future.

Amanda Hatfield, editor