Surrey County Council has asked the High Court to reverse a temporary order blocking its plans for community partnered libraries.
David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “Our aim is to keep all of Surrey’s 52 libraries open and help them to thrive, while elsewhere in the country libraries are closing.
“The first community library is due to open in Byfleet in just over a week. Not only have volunteers put a lot of hard work into getting to this stage, but we believe these plans offer a good future for these libraries.
“We understand some people don’t agree with our efforts to help communities run their libraries, but we have received a lot of support from people that understand we are doing what is best for Surrey’s libraries and the people who use them.”
The council is also concerned that the temporary court order, which says the authority cannot take “any irrevocable action” towards implementing its libraries plans, is ambiguous and therefore should be reversed.
The county council does not believe it prevents the authority from continuing to work with the many volunteers who have come forward.
Under the libraries plans, volunteers will be able to take over the day to day running of 10 libraries* while the county council continues to provide everything else including the building, stock, computer equipment, as well as free Wi-Fi in all libraries.
These 10 smaller libraries account for just 7% of all library use. The county council understands these libraries are important to their communities, which is why it has been working hard to safeguard their futures as community run branches.
The plans also mean resources can be focused on investing in the latest technology to make Surrey’s libraries even better. The virtual library is now the county’s fourth busiest and is used around three million times a year for downloading ebooks and transactions such as renewing or reserving books online.
Note to editors:
The 10 libraries being offered for communities to run were identified following an assessment of various factors including use, cost and proximity to another library.
* The 10 libraries are: Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, Warlingham.