Leeds under threat library crisis talks

Friends of Rawdon Library who are campaigning about its closure.
Friends of Rawdon Library who are campaigning about its closure.
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Supporters of a Leeds library faced with the axe are urging campaigners to attend a crisis meeting.

Rawdon Library is one of 15 that could be replaced with mobile services to save Leeds City Council £625,000 a year.

But Friends of Rawdon Library have hit out at the council’s plans.

June Longley, who has campaigned with the group, said: “We are very shocked that the community could have its library provision and probably its library building taken from it.

“Rawdon has virtually no public buildings. The library and park are the centre of Rawdon.

“The campaign group was formed to defend the library and lobby for its development and we believe that libraries are an essential part of any community.

“We know that libraries are evolving, but we want evolution not closure.”

The Friends of Rawdon Library will hold a meeting to discuss its future on Saturday in the building at 11am.

There are currently 53 libraries in Leeds and the council last year outlined proposals for a shake-up that left up to 20 facing the axe.

Following a public consultation which prompted over 4,300 responses it is now proposed to replace 15 with mobile services.

The 15 that are earmarked for closure are Allerton Bywater, Armley Heights, Belle Isle, Broad Lane, Cow Close, Holbeck, Ireland Wood, Kirkstall, Lofthouse, Osmondthorpe, Rawdon, Richmond Hill, Swarcliffe, Swillington and Swinnow.

Under the plans to be put to the council’s executive board on Wednesday, 25 libraries will have their opening hours extended and another eight will keep their current hours.

According to the council, books valued at over £1m and computers worth £120,000 are locked away for much of the week in under-used libraries with limited opening hours.

Library chiefs argue the reorganisation will free up these assets and allow the council to offer 100,000 additional hours of computer use.

Chief libraries officer Catherine Blanshard said that overall, libraries across the city would be open an extra 41 hours a week and all permanent staff would be retained.