Threat to Yorkshire music library

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Plans to close a music and drama library has sparked fears for the future of amateur theatre groups across Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Libraries and Information Council (YLI) has drawn up proposals to close the music and drama collection “as it currently exists”.

Based at Balne Lane Library in Wakefield, the service is supported by 12 local authorities in Yorkshire, including Leeds, and provides subsidised loans of play scripts, vocal scores and orchestral sets.

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A statement on behalf of the service said that against a background of falling use and reduced income, it was no longer financially viable in its current form.

It said that all 12 authorities supported the decision to end the service and added: “Despite cost efficiency measures introduced in 2011-12, reduced income from loans means that there will be a significant shortfall in funding.”

A review team has been examining options for how the collection could remain available to the public from April 2012. They include dividing it between various library authorities in the county or gifting the collection or parts of it to other authorities, institutions or groups. It will report its findings to the YLI on November 3.

Actress, singer and teacher Pam Wilson, who regularly uses the library, wants a rethink over the proposed closure. which she says would be a catastrophe.

In a letter to the YLI she said: “Without this major collection, many of these groups will simply not be able to function, thousands of people will lose their leisure activities and the arts will have been dealt yet another major blow.

“Amateur theatre companies, playreading groups, school and college drama groups, singers and musicians of every age and level across a vast area of Yorkshire will all find their basic equipment effectively destroyed at a stroke.”

She said the collection housed 500,000 items of music and 90,000 play scripts and added: “In typical local government fashion, this decision has been communicated to the library’s current borrowers with extremely short notice leaving them only two weeks to send in their comments.”