West Leeds: Last chapter for library as closure gets the go-ahead

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Senior councillors have voted to press ahead with the closure of a west Leeds library.

The council’s executive board agreed that the services provided at Cow Close library in Farnley should be replaced by mobile libraries.

But it is hoped other uses can be found for the building in Whincover Drive to transform it into a “community hub”.

Cow Close was among four libraries earmarked for closure last year but which the council opted to keep open to investigate the possibility of them being taken over and run by community groups.

While groups stepped forward to take over Drighlington, Rawdon and Shadwell libraries, there was no organisation willing to take over Cow Close.

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A report to the board said that despite a “use it or lose” campaign run by councillors for Farnley and Wortley, borrowing from the library had continued to decline.

According to council figures, the number of books borrowed during 2011-12 was 6,856 – down from 7,344 in 2010-11. Cow Close issued less than nine items per hour compared to the average figure for libraries across the city of 53.

The report said: “Of particular concern is the significant drop in children’s fiction borrowing and, despite a small increase in May 2012, the overall figures are very low.”

It said that a number of groups and individuals had expressed an interest in using the building including someone who wanted to run jobs skills sessions to help people get back into work, a solicitor who wished to run debt advice sessions and an organisation that wanted to run an IT service.

The report said one local councillor said a decision on the library was needed so that work could begin with community groups to establish the potential of a community hub.

Coun Ann Blackburn (Green, Farnley and Wortley) said she was disappointed with the decision taken by the executive board.

She said: “I don’t have anything against mobiles but we don’t have much in our area as far as facilities go and the library is an asset.

“There are two computers in there and they always seem to be well used.”