One of the few Kirklees libraries promised “full council support” WILL need volunteers to keep it going, it is claimed.
Kirklees Council restructured its libraries last year, splitting them into ‘Town Libraries’ and ‘Community Supported Libraries’.
Only eight of the borough’s libraries were given ‘Town’ status – supposedly protecting them from needing to use volunteers to stay open.
One of those was Holmfirth Library, with Kirklees Council saying it would “meet the cost for providing the library service in full”.
But Peter Rudman, chairman of the Friends of Holmfirth Library and Tourist Information Centre, has said dozens of volunteers will be needed to keep the library open.
Mr Rudman says 20 volunteers have already been trained and claims he needs 20 more to replace staff lost in the cut backs.
Responding to the claims, Clr Graham Turner, cabinet member who oversaw the library reconfiguration, said he had been assured the library would be able to operate its agreed hours without volunteers.
The library is currently open 51 hours per week but is set to reduce to 40 hours from September.
Clr Turner told the Examiner volunteers would only be needed to “enhance” the service.
But Mr Rudman said he was “mystified” how the council could deny volunteers were crucial and said he was concerned that people thought the eight Town libraries were completely spared from cuts.
He said: “We have been urged by the council to get volunteers to keep the service going.
“The fact of the matter is the number of staff has dropped from seven to four.
“We’ve got two people for the library and two for the tourist information centre.
“We’ve been asked to maintain the service as it was before the cuts were done.
“Between April and September we want to continue to open on Sundays and that requires volunteers to enable it to happen.
“We have asked Kirklees to put the record straight but they won’t.
“After September we will have had about a 50% reduction in professional staff.
“I would say for every one professional librarian going, we would probably need about a dozen volunteers to maintain their time.”
Clr Turner said the library was “fully staffed” and nothing had changed since the library shake-up was approved.
He added: “We want as many volunteers as we can get but they only enhance the service.”
The eight Town Libraries are: Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley, Cleckheaton, Mirfield, Birstall, Heckmondwike and Holmfirth.
The remaining 16 branches function with one librarian backed by community volunteers.
Plans for libraries to be run by volunteers alone with no council backup were shelved.