280,000 visits to Ribble Valley libraries in 2015 - but cuts to go ahead

Clitheroe Library.

Clitheroe Library.

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Lancashire County Council will have no choice other than to go ahead with library closures despite figures showing the Ribble Valley’s libraries were visited 279,966 times in 2015.

Statistics show Clitheroe Library was visited 169,815 times last year while people went through the doors of the Longridge Library on a total of 55,746 occasions.

It isn’t something we want to do, but the money simply isn’t there to keep them open

There were 38,001 visits recorded at Whalley Library, Mellor registered 7,440 visits while 5,220 were clocked as visiting Chatburn Library and 3,744 visited Read.

Lancashire County Council has proposed closing 40 of the 74 libraries it operates.

County Coun. Marcus Johnstone, who is member of the cabinet at County Hall, says a decision will be made next month on which specific libraries are to close but that the decision to close any of them is regrettable.

He said: “Although there were 280,000 visits last year to libraries, that clearly isn’t 280,000 different people visiting, there may be one person visiting 100 times.

“There are other issues such as the fact more people are using Ebooks and the changing ways books and services are accessed.

“As for the closures, we will be making a decision on May 12th and that will go out to public consultation before a final decision is made in September.

“As a county council, we are having to make savings of well over £500m. in total and it is down to these savings that libraries will close. It isn’t something we want to do, but the money simply isn’t there to keep them open.

“I think libraries are an important social venue for many people and for some it will be an enormous loss which is why there is no desire to do it.”

Ahead of the county council’s property review, the Ribble Valley was split into service areas and the county council is proposing to retain one library per service area.

According to County Coun. Johnstone, this will be set against a backdrop of an deprivation index with the most deprived areas having more chance of libraries being kept open. He said: “The final decision is up in the air, but that is the principle we will be working to.”

A spokesman for the county council added: “In terms of footfall, the numbers show that a large number of people continue to use libraries.

“There is a trend that does show in recent years that although, still high, the figure is decreasing.

“However, that is coupled with an increase in numbers of people using the Ebook service and those numbers are rising. Whichever way people are choosing to use them, libraries are continuing to be well used.”