Town shows council how important library is

S46038H8_ADF_STEYNING GT 12.11.08.' ' Steyning library S46038H8.

S46038H8_ADF_STEYNING GT 12.11.08.' ' Steyning library S46038H8.

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STEYNING joined together to show West Sussex County Council just how much their library means to them.

At a meeting held last Thursday (October 6), over 200 people turned up to hear what the future holds.

The meeting was attended by parish council chairman David Barling, councillors Sue Rogers and Mariella Alexander, and two representatives from West Sussex County Council - Lesley Sim Information Service Manager/ chief librarian, and Bill Acraman, whose portfolio includes libraries.

Mr Barling started the meeting by saying that it was ‘a testament to how you all feel about your library.

“It is great that we can show Chichester what it means to us’.

He added that he had been reassured by WSCC that they do not want to close any libraries but need to find ways of saving money.

Ms Sim spoke that as part of their budget they need to make savings of £1million.

“Initially the plan was to look at smaller level five and six libraries, Steyning is a level five, to find the savings but they have since decided to look across all levels to spread the impact.

The parish council have been in talks with Ms Sim about the service since August last year, when a report was published looking at how they can make savings. Mr Barling commented that they had become concerned of the possible threat to their library.

Parish councillor Mariella Alexander spoke to those in attendance about the possible options available, such as closing one day a week, opening later or closing earlier, using more volunteers and using parts of the space for different purposes.

However, concerns were raised on the impact on staff if volunteers are taken on.

Many of those from the town spoke of their admiration of the expertise and professionalism shown by the staff who work there.

Two people spoke at having completed degrees using books from the library, and without staff they say they would not have been able to find the ones they needed.

Suggestions from the floor were to look at sick pay and holiday, increase the price of premium services, and stop buying books for a year. Ms Sim said that although not buying books for a year would save £1.2million they need to find savings that last forever.

The parish council said they would look at the questions and suggestions and report back at a later date.

In the last twelve months it was recorded that 88,000 items were borrowed in Steyning with 50 per cent of people living in the surrounding area registered.