Bolton: a library is more than a pile of books in the corner of a community centre

Bolton Library Campaigners have dismissed the offer of Neighbourhood Book Collections instead of branch libraries as insulting.

Most Bolton residents have just received a copy of Bolton Scene, the free council newspaper, with the Library Review on the front page, and an encouragement to take part in the consultation.

The Council claims it will soften the blow of closing a third of the town’s libraries through bringing in something called ‘Neighbourhood Collections’.

Bolton Scene calls this ‘a new service…to provide an alternative to library buildings’. The Executive Report explains these will be ‘taster collections… to encourage people to develop a love for reading’.

In the Full Council meeting this week, the Council has admitted however that these collections will only have about 300 books each – compared to 8,287 books at Highfield library, 11,642 at Castle Hill, 13,974 at Heaton, 14,282 at Oxford Grove and 14,797 at Astley Bridge.

This is a massive 97.6% cut in the choice of books available locally to browse through.They have also admitted that the new service ‘will require appropriate time to develop’, and locations for Heaton and Astley Bridge have not been confirmed, so some readers may be without any service at all for a while.

Campaign secretary Ian McHugh commented:

This is an empty alternative that will in no way meet the range of needs that local people have.

Although this is part of the Council’s preferred cost saving ‘Option One’, they have not said how much the new service will cost to set up, what the ongoing rental, staffing and transport costs will be, or indeed how the service will be staffed. Will it be by volunteers, or by existing community centre staff?

This is a shambles of a proposal. Local people need a proper library service, not a small pile of books in the corner of a community centre.

A taster is no substitute for a balanced and nutritious diet!

We urge Bolton residents to complete the consultation forms by 16th September, reject all three options and insist on keeping all our libraries open”.

Ian McHugh (Secretary), Save Bolton Libraries Campaign


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