Public meeting over launching community library group in Higham Ferrers

The future of Higham Ferrers library is uncertain
The future of Higham Ferrers library is uncertain

People are invited to a public meeting about forming a new group aimed at ensuring a book lending service can continue in Higham Ferrers if library closures go ahead.

Northamptonshire County Council, which is facing huge financial problems, had planned to close 21 smaller branch libraries as part of a major cost-cutting exercise.

The plans were met with protests from library users and community groups across the county and a High Court challenge resulted in a judgement that the legal decision-making process had not been properly followed.

A review of the proposed library changes is being carried out and while the future of these libraries remains unclear, a number of community library groups have been set up across Northamptonshire.

This includes several individuals in Higham Ferrers who have been working with a town council working group to look at ways of continuing a book lending service in some form in the town.

The Reverend Paul Needle, who is interim chairman of the group, hopes that people who care about their book lending service will attend the short meeting at 6.30pm on Monday (September 10).

He said: “Although the library service future is still uncertain, it has been decided to set up a formal community library group in Higham Ferrers to be better prepared to provide for local readers’ needs.

“Once a formal committee has been agreed by those attending, it will be possible to establish the group with legal and charitable status so we can have plans well in hand when we know the county council’s final plan for local branch libraries.

“We will be looking for local people with a range of expertise and enthusiasm to prove that libraries have a future in rural areas.

“We shall look at what sort of service can be provided so that volunteers can run it simply and efficiently.

“We will also work with Higham Ferrers Town Council who are considering ways to assist in locating suitable premises for the venture.”

It is hoped that Monday’s 30-minute meeting will help gauge support and commitment for a community library and outline areas for future planning and development.