LIBRARY lovers have vowed to put their heads together to try and save their local service.

Kirklees Council wants volunteers to take over Slaithwaite, Golcar, Honley, Lepton, Kirkheaton, Denby Dale and Shepley libraries.

The council has vowed to keep the threatened libraries open until March 2013 but a consultation has been launched to try and find people interested in operating any of the seven services.

But at a Ward Forum meeting at Denby Dale several concerned library users told local councillors and Kirklees officials they did not agree with the plan.

Council official Catherine Harrison said they were “willing to listen” and nothing had been decided.

But she said it cost about £44,000 a year to run the Denby Dale facility, £31,000 of which was staff costs and so getting volunteers trained to run the service would provide significant savings.

Clr Jim Dodds, said: “We can’t go into this with our eyes closed – that’s why we’re starting the consultation process now.

“We’re looking at alternative ways of running them but we don’t have to rush into a solution.

“We need to think carefully about how we’re going to do it.”

Clr Dodds said a team of volunteers from the Denby Dale Centre had already come forward.

But several members of the public said they thought the library would be “closed by the back door” if volunteer enthusiasm tailed off over the years.

Now, with National Libraries Day approaching, Denby Dale resident Biddy Fisher OBE, said she was setting about a plan to save her local library.

Mrs Fisher, who is the former president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, has launched a Friends of Denby Dale library group in a bid to consult local users on what they want from their service.

She said: “My library is one that’s planned to be handed over to the community but I don’t know what that means.

“I’m not against community involvement but they need to be driven by the community, not led by the community.

“Clr Jim Dodds thinks volunteers will come forward to run the library but I don’t think they’ve identified what they want them to do.

“I don’t think Kirklees has got a strategy yet.

“I think we’ll get in a bit of a pickle if we ask volunteers to start running buildings and services.

“The danger for me is that you end up with just a book lending service and nowadays libraries are far more than that.

“We need to make sure we continue access to the national inter-library lending service and the British Library and other electronic resources.

“There are skills involved in that sort of work that volunteers may not have.

“I’m also concerned about the building as a lot of groups depend on it.

“There’s a lot more at stake than just the book lending.”

The Friends of Denby Dale Library plan to meet on National Libraries Day on February 4.

The venue for the meeting is still to be confirmed.

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