St Albans district mobile libraries facing axe

ALL the mobile libraries which serve the St Albans district are scheduled to be axed as part of measures to save nearly �1.5 million on the county council’s library and heritage services.

The 11 sites which are currently served by the mobile library service in St Albans will be discontinued by the end of next May and the hours of opening of the existing static libraries will be cut.

Among the mobile libraries which will go is the one serving the elderly people’s complex at Victor Smith Court in Bricket Wood on Friday and others on the Cottonmill and Verulam estates as well as How Wood, Park Street and Chiswell Green.

The district’s permanent libraries will also see swingeing cuts in hours with Harpenden particularly badly hit with a reduction from 56 hours to 37 and Marshalswick cut from 53 hours to 33.

Opening hours at St Albans library will go down from 65 hours to 51 and Redbourn, Wheathampstead and London Colney from 24 to 20. Radlett library will be cut from 48 hours to 33.

The proposals will go to next week’s meeting of the county council’s cabinet and, if approved, will be followed by a seven-week consultation period running up to Christmas.

A report to a committee this week said that as no libraries were being closed there was the potential to reintroduce longer opening hours in the future should the economic situation improve.

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Mobile services would be concentrated on vulnerable and isolated customers and served by a smaller fleet of vehicles.

Opposition Lib-Dem county councillors have launched a campaign to save library services, arguing that they are particularly important at a time of high unemployment so people can access resources to apply for jobs and keep their minds active.

Group leader, Cllr Chris White, said: “Libraries are vital parts of our communities.

“They are not just places where people can borrow books. They are safe places to meet – and important places to study, for both young and old.”