Saturday, 22 December 2012

Library visits up despite cuts

VISITS to Solihull libraries have risen despite cuts in staff, stock and spending, new research shows.

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Some 1,210,725 visits were made in 2011/12 compared to 1,139,020 the previous year, research by theChartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy shows.

This was the most visits in five years of figures released by the institute. In 2007/08, there were 1,147,902 visits.

It comes despite cuts by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to the service, to include a eight per cent reduction in hours at 10 branches, including Knowle, in April next year.

Cash spent on running the service fell from £5.2m to £4.2m between 2008/09 and this year while full-time staffing roles fell from 113 to 87 in 2011/12.

Stock purchases fell from 29,827 in 2007/08 to 21,385 last year.

The number of volunteers has fluctuated, the research shows with 117 on roll in 2011/12 compared to 140 in 2007/08 and 266, 246 and 83 in subsequent years.

In 2010, the council cutopening hours at Knowle Library from 5pm to 2pm on Saturdays, though The Knowle Society provided volunteers to keep it open later.

The council also decided to close the High Street branch at 5pm on Monday instead of 7pm.

In November, the council decided to close the branch at 1pm instead of 2pm on Saturdays and at 6pm instead of 7pm on Thursday.

The Silhillian this week reported that the council will be among the hardest hit in Government cuts to cash support in the 12 months from April.

The authority – which froze its part of the council tax this year - set itself a savings target of £12m this year, leaving it with a budget of £144.9m.

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