Read-in protest bids to save Bentham Library

The Westmorland Gazette: READERS: Fighting to save Bentham library are residents led by (front) Irena Pritchard and Paul Hypher Buy this photo READERS: Fighting to save Bentham library are residents led by (front) Irena Pritchard and Paul Hypher

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the threatened closure of a library in a North Yorkshire town have organised a 'read-in' protest.

Avid readers Irena Pritchard and Angela Robinson came up with the idea of the four-hour session – with local people reading their favourite passages from books – to support Bentham Library.

North Yorkshire County Council has announced it has had to cut its budget for libraries by £2 million.

It wants to keep 18 libraries open but run the smaller ones through volunteers.

However, 24 libraries could close under the plan, while the council also wants to take ten mobile libraries out of service.

Mrs Pritchard, of Mount Pleasant, said Bentham Library, which has 6,000 registered members, would not work as a voluntary organisation and had organised the February 5 protest.

“Bentham already has a lot of community-run projects,” she said. “It’s such a small town there are not enough people to take on another one.”

Campaigners have won support from author and playwright Alan Bennett, who has a home at nearby Clapham. He said he would have been at the protest if not for another engage-ment in London.

He said: “Closing libraries is child abuse.”

Ingleton Library is also threatened by the plan, and parish councillor Paul Weaire said he believed North Yorkshire saw lib-raries as an ‘easy target’.

"Ingleton library is always busy with either children doing their homework or elderly people reading,” he said. “Once it’s gone it will be gone forever. People had to fight hard to get the service so we should fight hard to keep it now."

The nearest library to Ingleton and Bentham will be at Settle.

An action group has been created and will meet at Ingleborough Commun-ity Centre, Ingleton, on February 10, to debate the plan with county council representatives.

“It’s not just about saving money,” said Coun Chris Metcalfe.

“It’s also about providing the best service we can to the largest number of people, about adapting libraries to meet changing demands and about ensuring our tax-payers get the best value for their money.”

People have until the end of February to make their views known on the county council’s proposals.

Comments (4)

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8:32pm Wed 26 Jan 11

wazoo says...

These people need to face reality, libraries are hugely important- only to those who use them. The fact is that in the age of internet and multimedia, libraries are not the invaluable resource to the whole community they once where.
Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made and invariably somebody loses out, but the council need to use a simple equation - how much a service costs divided by how many people it serves. It would be wonderful if everything could be kept (swimming pools, libraries, drop-in centres, dance classes etc etc) but we can't afford them all. If you oppose this then suggest closing something else, but whatever you suggest, it will upset somebody else!
These people need to face reality, libraries are hugely important- only to those who use them. The fact is that in the age of internet and multimedia, libraries are not the invaluable resource to the whole community they once where. Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made and invariably somebody loses out, but the council need to use a simple equation - how much a service costs divided by how many people it serves. It would be wonderful if everything could be kept (swimming pools, libraries, drop-in centres, dance classes etc etc) but we can't afford them all. If you oppose this then suggest closing something else, but whatever you suggest, it will upset somebody else! wazoo
  • Score: 0

3:44pm Thu 27 Jan 11

magical trevor says...

So wise!
So wise! magical trevor
  • Score: 0

9:25pm Thu 27 Jan 11

chrisconder says...

I think that a lot of people still rely on rural libraries, especially those who can't get an internet connection to get digital information, they still rely on analogue. I think libraries need keeping open for another decade and possibly longer. A lot of the people from neighbouring villages go to Bentham library since the one at Caton was shut. There is no way they can afford to go all the way to Settle. I appreciate something has to give, and we can't afford to do everything, but I do think councillors should listen to the people, and if enough want to keep the library their voices should be heard. Is there an outcry to keep drop in centres or dance classes?
Is there a way the library can multi -task, ie become a drop in centre/cafe type place too? or digital resource for those who can't get a connection at home? (or is it already?)
I don't know Bentham library, but I do admire the people who are trying to save it, and just wanted to add my fourpennorth here.
thanks
chris
I think that a lot of people still rely on rural libraries, especially those who can't get an internet connection to get digital information, they still rely on analogue. I think libraries need keeping open for another decade and possibly longer. A lot of the people from neighbouring villages go to Bentham library since the one at Caton was shut. There is no way they can afford to go all the way to Settle. I appreciate something has to give, and we can't afford to do everything, but I do think councillors should listen to the people, and if enough want to keep the library their voices should be heard. Is there an outcry to keep drop in centres or dance classes? Is there a way the library can multi -task, ie become a drop in centre/cafe type place too? or digital resource for those who can't get a connection at home? (or is it already?) I don't know Bentham library, but I do admire the people who are trying to save it, and just wanted to add my fourpennorth here. thanks chris chrisconder
  • Score: 0

8:03am Fri 28 Jan 11

wazoo says...

'Large numbers of people' is relative, this library has 6000 registered users, its a safe bet that only a fraction of that number use it on a regular basis. How much does a library cost to keep open for the sake of a couple of thousand people? Actually Chris there is a public outcry when a dance class is cancelled or drop in centre or swimming pool shut down, like I said earlier, whatever you close it will upset somebody. Your suggestion of combining the service with something else is a nice idea but would increase costs so is counter-productive.
Libraries were at one time hugely important but the fact is that is no longer the case. Finally, if Councillors only make savings by closing things that have full and total agreement from the public then what does that leave us with (except perhaps closing the council!)
'Large numbers of people' is relative, this library has 6000 registered users, its a safe bet that only a fraction of that number use it on a regular basis. How much does a library cost to keep open for the sake of a couple of thousand people? Actually Chris there is a public outcry when a dance class is cancelled or drop in centre or swimming pool shut down, like I said earlier, whatever you close it will upset somebody. Your suggestion of combining the service with something else is a nice idea but would increase costs so is counter-productive. Libraries were at one time hugely important but the fact is that is no longer the case. Finally, if Councillors only make savings by closing things that have full and total agreement from the public then what does that leave us with (except perhaps closing the council!) wazoo
  • Score: 0

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