Two Weeks to Save Whiston Library

By on Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Whiston_Library_KnowsleyIt is Tuesday 15 October. The people of Whiston have just over two weeks to put themselves forward to save their town’s library.

If a group of people haven’t shown an “expression of interest” in running the library for the community by 31 October, Knowsley Council will take steps to ensure it is closed by April 2014. Whiston will lose one of its few remaining public facilities.

That group of volunteers does not yet exist. If it is to exist, then that group will be us, the people of Whiston.

Here are the facts so far, as explained at a public meeting at St Edmund Arrowsmith Centre for Learning last night:

  • In March 2013, Knowsley councillors voted unanimously to close Whiston and Page Moss Libraries as a way to cut costs. The council say they’ve had no choice but to axe some services, due to government funding cuts to the tune of £38 million since 2010. Other services will have to be cut to save up to £30m over the next three years, according to KMBC.
  • As of April 2014, Knowsley Council are not prepared to pay the £75,000 annual cost of the library (£50,000 staff costs, £25,000 upkeep).
  • Community groups have until 31 October to notify Knowsley Library Services of their interest in taking over the library. Takeover means the community will be responsible for funding and managing everything.

How Volunteers Can Save Whiston Library

There are several voluntary roles to play in keeping the library open, and they depend on commitment, time and effort from the people of Whiston:

  • Staff to open and shut the building, coordinate activities and supervise library users during opening times
  • Fundraisers to organise events and other activities to raise money
  • People to clean and maintain the building
  • People with administrative skills to manage finances, submit funding applications and deal with day-to-day business

How Would the Library Be Funded?

Volunteers would have to find the funding themselves. Knowsley Council will provide the building, but will no longer directly fund the library. Possible means of income suggested at the meeting include:

  • Renting out the space to groups, eg, Zumba
  • Allowing a business, such as a cafe, to trade from the premises
  • Applying for grants and sponsorship
  • Fundraising activities

The council say they won’t impose many restrictions on how the service is run and building used. It costs approximately £2,000 a month (minus staff costs) to run the library at the moment, but if a group were only able to open it for half the hours, for example, that could be reduced to £1,000.

Can You Help?

Prescot Online has set up a survey for anyone willing to volunteer to run the library for the community. Click through to answer six short questions about what you are prepared to do to help save Whiston Library (name and contact details required).

By answering the survey, you are not making any firm commitments; you are just giving the council an idea of what support they can expect for transferring the library to community use and ownership.

If together we can show Knowsley Council that a group of volunteers are prepared to try and make Whiston Library work as a community-run facility, we have a good chance of preventing the closure and saving the library for our town’s use and for future generations.

What to Do Next

  • Complete the survey
  • Contact Knowsley Council yourself with suggestions and ideas: email library.consultation@knowsley.gov.uk or phone Library Services on (0151) 443 3586
  • Contact your local councillor to ask how they can support a community group in taking over Whiston Library (click here for Knowsley Council members and here for Whiston Town councillors)
  • Spread the word

Dave (Editor, Prescot Online)

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