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Somerset signs six community library partnerships

Somerset County Council has announced six ‘community library partnerships’, which will deliver library services together in future.

Under the partnership agreements, existing library buildings will remain open, with community partners working together with Somerset County Council in the following six communities – Bruton, Nether Stowey, North Petherton, Somerton, Watchet and Wiveliscombe.

In November, Somerset County Council agreed to retain 19 of its existing libraries and seek help from communities to run 15 other library buildings as community library partnerships. The two library buildings where no expressions of interest to run a partnership were received, Highbridge and Sunningdale (Yeovil), closed in December.

Fully staffed libraries will continue at Watchet and Wiveliscombe whilst Somerton, South Petherton, and North Petherton libraries will be mostly staff led with some additional volunteer support, which will support extended opening hours in South Petherton. Volunteer-led libraries will be operating at Bruton, Castle Cary, Nether Stowey and Porlock.

‘It’s great news so many community library partnerships were signed and I’d like to thank everyone for all their hard work, dedication and commitment in bringing this about,’ said libraries cabinet member, Cllr David Hall.

‘We look forward to working closely with our partners to deliver libraries services together in these communities going forward.’

A Friends of Somerset Library (FOSL) spokesperson said: ‘Friends of Somerset Libraries have been engaging and challenging Somerset County Council throughout the review of library services. We are pleased to see that six community library partnerships are being announced today.

‘The communities that have stepped up to keep their libraries open are to be congratulated and we are further pleased that most will continue to provide a service with trained staff rather than relying on volunteers. FOSL argued for all partnerships to receive some funding from the council and a core service offer to ensure the maintenance of service across the county and this has been achieved. We are sorry to see that two libraries have closed but the remainder are part of the statutory network.’

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