The countdown has begun to the reopening of Lancashire’s closed libraries, including ones in Fulwood, Freckleton, Lostock Hall and Whalley.
The ruling Conservative group at county hall will outline their plans for the future of the library service at a cabinet meeting next week.
Some 26 of the council’s original 73 libraries were closed under the county council’s previous administration and it will cost £1.6m in 2017/18 and £1.7m in 2017/18 to keep the library service running and reopen properties.
It is predicted more than 60 jobs will be created as the council seeks to recruit full and part time library staff.
Today County Coun Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, forecasts many libraries should re-open by spring 2018 and said: “Libraries are a vital service at the heart of our communities, offering free access to books and information, as well as being a place where communities can get together.
“That is why we’re proposing to reopen libraries which were closed, as well as safeguarding full library services at six libraries which had been due to close or see the level of service reduced.
But he warned: “A significant amount of activity will be needed to reopen the libraries which were closed. This will include building assessments and carrying out work to improve the condition of some buildings, recruiting and training staff, reconnecting ICT and other infrastructure, and reallocating book stock.”
He continued: “Building surveys are already underway and the next step will be to produce a detailed timeline for libraries reopening. Whilst some require minimal work in order to reopen, at this stage we’re anticipating that most will reopen between this autumn and spring next year.”
The report recommends the phased reopening of 14 libraries, nine of which will be run by the county council. These include Fulwood, Lostock Hall, Whalley, Freckleton, Silverdale and Bolton-le-Sands libraries.
It is proposed five libraries will run as independent community libraries, including Penwortham library.
In addition a full service will be retained at six libraries which were due to close or offer a reduced service. These include Coppull and Eccleston libraries which are being funded by Chorley Council until March 2018 and Ansdell library.
The report notes that three former libraries cannot be reopened since leases for two buildings in Ribble Valley at Read and Chatburn have been surrendered, and the ownership of one building, Northfleet Library has transferred to a school. The cabinet will be asked to consider options for providing services in the areas affected.
But the cabinet will also be asked to defer decisions relating to 12 other libraries, including Adlington Library and Children’s Centre, Cleveleys Library and Children’s Centre and Lytham, Bamber Bridge, Burscough and Thornton libraries to “allow time for further consideration”.