Bradford libraries are facing up to £2m in cuts, 65% of the budget, over the next two years, as the local council outlines plans to turn existing libraries into “community hubs”, sharing resources, with the head of libraries saying he is unable to rule out outright closures.
Bradford Council will discuss the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday 22nd January with a report suggesting ways to make cuts of £950,000 in 2019/20. £420,000 of savings will come from changes to the central city library’s lease with the remaining £530,000 coming from the community hubs plan, reduced staffing and 30% cuts to the “materials budget”. The current libraries budget of £3.1m is proposed to be cut to £1.1m for 2020/21.
The council currently provides a network of 29 libraries access the district, with 10 being council-run, 17 community or venue managed libraries and two run by both council staff and volunteers.
Bradford Council is looking into turning the existing libraries in Shipley, Keighley and City into “community hubs”. According to the report, the hubs will be “will become a focal point for local activities and services, and facilities, accessible to the local community with more focus on “multi-purpose” use. This approach to the future management of the libraries service will enable efficiencies through the shared use of assets and will reduce costs through bringing services together in one place.”
Bradford’s head of libraries, museums and galleries Maggie Pedley told a public meeting on Friday that the traditional role of the trained librarian would continue to exist, according to the Guardian.
But campaigners warned library users will “plummet” if the service is changed. Campaigner Alan Wylie said: “I’ve seen it happen so many times. They’ll reduce the service, then usage will plummet, and the council will say that now they’ll have to either close the libraries or make them volunteer-run. It’s death by a thousand cuts.”
With further cuts to be outlines for the 2020 budget, Pedley was unable to rule out library closures, saying: “I obviously can’t make a guarantee that no libraries will ever close. But I hope not.”