Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Barry Lewis has renewed his pledge to keep all libraries open across the county.
Councillor Lewis, who is also Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, reiterated his ‘no libraries will close on my watch’ statement after it was claimed that some of our libraries may close due to communities not coming forward to volunteer to run them.
Councillor Lewis said:
“We agreed in 2018 that 20 out of our 45 libraries should be transferred to community management and also to look at alternative ways of delivering the mobile library service as this was the best way to ensure the services could continue and thrive and keep all library branches open across the county.
“We have been working hard to engage with communities, groups and volunteers and have already had one successful transfer, with 5 more in the pipeline.
“Although the process was paused due to the pandemic, it is very much up and running again and we are appealing to communities to run the remaining 14 libraries.
“Our libraries are strong community assets with a wide range of uses and benefits and are highly valued by the council and the people who use them.
“The first group to take over a library in Woodville have already increased opening hours and we see this as a very positive step which could be replicated elsewhere.
“We have to ensure we are using our resources as effectively and efficiently as possible, and this is the best way forward to ensure a countywide service is maintained, which can offer huge benefits to local communities and more tailored services to meet local needs.”
Councillor Lewis added:
“If in the future there is no take up by communities in some areas we will have to take a fresh look at our ‘Libraries for Derbyshire’ plan and consider different ways of delivering the service, but people can be assured that closures are not an option we will be considering.”
Groups are currently working with us with a view to taking charge of their local libraries in Etwall, Melbourne, Old Whittington, Tideswell and Wingerworth.