THE School Library Service in Worcestershire is to be axed after a new model of delivery designed by county chiefs failed to appeal to enough headteachers.
It means all current contracts with schools will end on November 2 and the fear now is that it will also cost the jobs of up to nine library staff.
The news brought a sharp response from the county’s Labour group which slammed the decision as being misguided and causing ‘incalculable damage’ to the develop of young people in Worcestershire.
“Here was an opportunity to create a flourishing library service as other authorities have achieved elsewhere and instead what we have ended up with a misguided way of a minor sum of money and causing incalculable damage in the process,” said Labour group leader Councillor Robin Lunn (Redditch North).
He questioned why a similar Conservative-controlled council like Essex could not only run its own successful schools library service (SLS) but also win the contract to supply neighbouring Sussex too while Worcestershire had dismally failed.
“What particularly frustrates me is the amount of work that has gone into this – it should have resulted in a way of enhancing the school library service and it instead it is being stopped altogether. It certainly doesn’t hold out much hope the library service as a whole which is currently under review.”
The SLS had been earmarked to close at the end of August after a drop in interest from schools but this was postponed while the county worked on a new model of delivery and costing structure which went before headteachers in September.
However it proved so unattractive that of the 22 schools contacted with details of the new pricing model, only three said they would continue to subscribe on the revised terms, prompting the decision to close the service completely.
Hannah Needham, assistant director of Families, Communities and Partnerships, said: “We listened to all the feedback from schools and invited interested ones to renew their Schools’ Library Service subscriptions based on a revised offer and pricing structure.
“Unfortunately, not enough schools wanted to renew which meant the service could not continue.
“We will write to schools before November 2 with contact details of alternative library service provision for them to consider.”