Two libraries and a mobile library are set to close in Luton this winter, it was announced this morning.
Wigmore Library, Sundon Park Library and Luton Mobile LIbrary will all be closed due to funding cuts.
Residents have petitioned for the libraries to stay open and have collected thousands of signatures but their efforts could not overcome the £1.58m cut to Luton Culture’s funding.
Maggie Appleton, Chief Executive of Luton Culture said: “This is a sad day for us and we very much regret that we have to announce closures. We have incredibly loyal customers who deeply value their libraries and the library staff who serve them.
“Sadly, the £1.58m cut our charity is facing has forced us to make changes to the library service. The consultation and prioritisation exercise led by Luton Borough Council ensured that all viable options for making savings across the library network were carefully analysed and considered.”
Ms Appleton said as a result of this thorough exercise, 86.6 per cent of people in Luton will still live within a mile of a library after these closures – compared to 88 per cent at the moment.
Library services will continue at Stopsley Library, Marsh Farm Library, Leagrave Library, Luton Central Library, Bury Park Library, Lewsey Library and the Home Library Service.
Ms Appleton said: “We realise that for some, especially older people and those with young children, losing their closest library is a huge blow. We know it is incredibly important to ensure that everyone in Luton is still able to access library services regularly, not only to encourage a love of reading but also for IT and internet provision, educational purposes and all the other empowering things that our libraries provide for our community. For this reason, we are working hard to ensure every Luton Culture runs the arts, libraries and museums in Luton, alongside a range of community based services.”
The Home Library Service will continue to supply books, audio books, music and DVDs to the elderly and those with disability/mobility problems, direct to their doors.
Luton Culture is keen to look at any additional ideas which might enhance the library service, are in talks with Sundon Park Baptist Church about the possibility of a community library in their new building next year.
The announced library closures will take place in winter 2013 and spring 2014. A public awareness campaign will provide every Luton community with information about how changes to library services may affect them and all the ways in which they can still access the service