IN A BID to keep Ceredigion libraries open, the Llandysul Library Supporters’ Group have introduced a proposal that they hope will aid in retaining an equitable library service across the county.
After implementing a new round of budget cuts, in November 2015 Ceredigion County Council announced that financial restraints in the library service would mean that Llandysul Library would be closed, saving the council an estimated £42,000 a year.
Also mentioned in the announcement was that Cardigan Library would be moving to a smaller premises and one library van would be removed from the service.
A public meeting was held in Llandysul, in which Councillor Dafydd Edwards told the community that they could run Llandysul Library with volunteers, but to keep the library in the same place, they would need to raise around £15,000 – £20,000 per annum to cover costs.
The community who live in and around rural Llandysul deemed this idea as unacceptable, due to the fact that residents are already raising funds as part of a community-led initiative to keep Cymdeithas Chwaraeon and their swimming pool running.
Numerous protests were held outside the Council Offices at Penmorfa, Aberaeron and a petition with over 500 signatures was handed to Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn.
The supporters’ group’s ‘Equitable Proposal’ is based on the authority’s own costings for the County Library Service and is aimed to help Ceredigion County Council cut costs of 17% from the current library service budget while still maintaining a similar level of service.
The group found that similar plans are being used all around the country to preserve the dwindling library services.
At the beginning of March, the group sent their proposal to relevant members of the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as well as to AM Elin Jones, MP Mark Williams and Llandysul Community Council.
It is hoped that the plan, which involves volunteers working with qualified library staff in every library in the county, will be discussed at one of the next upcoming committee meetings.
The proposal puts forward the idea that everyone in the county should have the opportunity to do their part in helping to keep all the libraries in Ceredigion open.
It continues, stating that to help stay in budget, there would need to be only slightly more staff redundancies than the council first proposed. Since two thirds of the budget is in staffing costs, unfortunately any proposal will result in much the same cuts to staffing.
Like County Councillors, Llandysul Library Supporters’ Group do not want to see library workers becoming redundant due to the cut-backs, but neither do they want their community to lose its library and the expertise of its librarian.
The community’s plan is based around the Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964, in which it states that the council must play their part in maintaining the “comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it”
The proposal states that when things improve within the county of Ceredigion that the library budget can then be increased, seeing more staff being hired and volunteers taking more of a back seat.
Lesley Parker from the Llandysul Library Supporters’ Group said: “We expect that the Scrutiny Committee will discuss our proposal as it not only keeps Llandysul Library open but all the remaining libraries in Ceredigion open too. Maybe Tregaron Library could reopen.
“We are not saying that this is the ideal approach, but it is the best compromise in these difficult financial times.”