Monday, 24 September 2018

Agreement finalised to keep library open

THE Friends of Benson Library have signed a formal agreement to keep the service going after cuts come into effect

THE Friends of Benson Library have signed a formal agreement to keep the service going after cuts come into effect next year.

The group has confirmed staffing arrangements with Oxfordshire County Council once the Castle Square building becomes a “community library” in April.

The library is one of 16 due to lose half their staff funding from the council.

The agreement states that the council will provide all the present facilities and 20 hours of staff time a week with the Friends funding a further five hours a week to ensure that a professional librarian is always present when the building is open.

The Friends will also provide sufficient volunteers to support the professional staff and maintain the existing opening hours.

More than 30 volunteers have already been recruited and they will be trained in January and February.

The agreement was signed by Dave Rushton, who chairs the group, and trustee Robert James along with Jillian Southwell, head of the Oxfordshire library service.

Mr Rushton said: “This is an important step and a positive move towards saving an essential part of our community. I believe it is possible to work together in a partnership agreement given goodwill on both sides.”

Meanwhile, a computer designed for young children could be installed in the library.

Educational games and other content suitable for young children would be loaded on to the computer, which has a specially adapted keyboard.

The Friends will need to raise about £500 to pay for the computer.

Mr Rushton said: “We want to do anything we can to encourage and support the youngsters.”

Mark Gray, county councillor for Benson and Cholsey, has agreed to make a donation from his community fund.

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