Historic Cotswold Village

County Council compromise proposal means Stonesfield Library will remain but will require volunteer staff

Following a second consultation that resulted from widespread protest across the county, Oxfordshire County Country today issued new proposals under which all current libraries will stay open, although only 22 ‘core libraries’ will remain staffed by professional librarians.

Stonesfield Library is one of 16 proposed to be categorised as ‘Community Libraries’, as is Charlbury’s, requiring an equal mix of county council-paid staff and volunteers. Woodstock Library is to be one of five Community Plus Libraries that will be supported to the level of two-thirds council-paid staff and one-third volunteers.

According to Councillor Keith Mitchell, the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, “We have made a judgement in a very challenging economic environment that would, with the help of the local community in some locations, see all 43 libraries in Oxfordshire remain open.”

“All local authorities have had to take many tough decisions on matters to do with almost all of the services that they provide because of the very difficult financial situation that this country is in (sic).”

“We have however recognised the strength of public feeling about libraries and have come up with a compromise which we believe is viable. The Library Service will now work with the public to establish a sustainable future for each of the 21 libraries where volunteers will contribute towards staffing levels.”

The council stated they will guarantee that all libraries will continue to receive support in the form of free access to a suitable building (although Stonesfield’s belongs to its community anyway); to book stock; to the library stock management system and that all of those currently without self-service equipment will be fitted with the technology via capital funding.

The council added Officers will also commit to exploring how all library buildings could be used in different and more effective ways as community resources in the future.

The council would take into account every four years, or sooner if circumstances dictate, housing developments across Oxfordshire to consider whether the location of libraries would still cater for the changing face of the county.

The change from council-paid staffing to a mix of council-paid staffing and volunteers in 21 libraries will take place over a three-year timeframe.
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