Public libraries throughout Dorset and the United Kingdom are undergoing major changes due to cuts in council funding and the libraries in and around Bournemouth are no different.
The latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) found that nationwide library funding had dropped by £25m in 2015/16.
On top of this, in July 2017, Bournemouth Borough Council proposed “realignments” to the contracts of library staff, whereby the budget for wages would drop, in an attempt to save as much as £566,000 by 2019/20.
This decision came four months after Bournemouth Borough Council and Poole Borough Council both agreed to unilaterally manage library services from April 2017 onwards.
However, it is not just libraries in large towns like Bournemouth that have struggled following these staffing cuts, with libraries in smaller villages such as Colehill becoming reliant on volunteers and parish funding to stay afloat after having to adopt the ‘community library’ structure at the beginning of 2013 – where they are given a £2,000 grant from the County Council and then left to function as a charity/ limited company.
Despite finances being tight, Colehill Community Library has excelled in helping its local community, hosting everything from IT groups for senior citizens to reading groups for young children – including being involved with Bournemouth Borough’s record-breaking Summer Reading Challenge.
Library manager, Linda Roberts, chooses to remain pragmatic about the financial situation and said that: “With the current situation local government finds itself in, Dorset Libraries seem to have worked well with the community to deliver the best service possible in the circumstances.”