Fears have been raised this week that the library service will be cut back in Burnham-On-Sea this Spring when new ‘smart office space’ and other changes are made to the town’s library this Spring.
Somerset County Council will be temporarily closing the library in Princess Street during May when major refurbishment work goes ahead to introduce new offices for council employees and move the town’s registrar service into the building.
The plans have attracted a mixed response from town councillors at their latest meeting. Cllr Helen Groves said: “I strongly object to these plans. Changing the library into office space is just not on. The County Council wants to save money by cutting back its offices elsewhere and housing a few staff here while reducing Burnham’s library facilities at the same time. It’s a false economy.”
But Cllr Bill Hancock said: “Many libraries across the country are struggling to survive, so for ours to adapt and have new uses while continuing to offer a good lending service is fine with me.”
Cllr Paul Young added: “I am pleased to see Burnham Library changing with the times and becoming more sustainable through other uses.”
The changes – which are set to proceed during May – will also see new toilets and a lift being introduced to gain access to the upper floor.
A spokesman for Somerset County Council told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The changes will mean that we are able to provide workspace for Somerset County Council staff and we are pleased to confirm that the Registrar’s team will be based in the library, offering easy access to registrar services.”
“The library will need to close while building work takes place. We want to reassure everyone that during the closure library customers will continue to have access to services at Highbridge Library.”
A spokeswoman claimed that the library service will not be reduced and added that the ‘People’s Network’ PCs will also continue to be offered.
The current registrar – for registering births, deaths and marriages – is based at Burnham’s Town Council Chambers in Jaycroft Road.