Sir – Safer and stronger communities — but without libraries?

The Oxfordshire County Council councillor with responsibilities for libraries is J Heathcoat.

She was very helpful in answering my questions about proposed cuts to Oxfordshire’s library service. The current proposal is to close twenty of the small libraries, such as Charlbury and North Leigh. The local communities will be given the option of buying the library premises and running the library with volunteers.

Mrs Heathcoat considers that this will fulfill the county’s statutory obligation to provide an ‘adequate service’.

This is only a proposal: The county does not yet know how much its overall grant from central Government will be cut. But if it is decided to go ahead with the cuts to the library service, then there will be local consultations in March 2011, and any appeals arising will be sent to the council’s cabinet in June and July 2011. If the closures are approved, then the libraries will be closed in June 2012.

Librarians, like nurses, are trained professionals: Their jobs can no more be done by volunteers, however well-meaning, than can nurses’ jobs. The Library Association, the professional association of librarians (like the BMA for doctors) has not been consulted about this scheme.

It is delightful to learn that Mrs Heathcoat’s responsibility towards libraries comes under the committee for safer and stronger communities. She would be glad to hear the views of library users, and can be contacted at

Dr Ros Faith, Finstock