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County agrees increase to library fees and to step up Friends' Groups

Chris Satori

Lancashire County Council's cabinet has agreed to increase fees and charges in libraries, museums and archives at its meeting held yesterday (Thursday 18 January 2018). The Cabinet has also agreed changes to the way it works with Friends of Libraries groups to coordinate the way that libraries and Friends groups work together better to support the development of the library service, and boost engagement with local communities.

Library reservation fees have not been increased since 2005, some 13 years ago, and fines have not risen since 2012. Charges for the archives service were last reviewed in 2016, and those for the museums service in 2013.

Cabinet has agreed to increase the costs for:

• The library reservation fee
• The late return of library books
• The commission on artwork and crafts sold in libraries and museums
• Admission charges to Gawthorpe Hall
• The charge for a copy of an archive probate record

It has also been agreed to introduce a new handling charge for requests to provide copies of archives from outside the UK.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: "The county council's financial position means that we have to review our charges from time to time. We hadn't increased these charges for a while, and although we would prefer not to have to, this situation had to be addressed.

"It was agreed that we couldn't continue to absorb these costs. The increases are consistent with those that have already been introduced by other councils across the country.

"Although charges are never popular, this decision was necessary in order to reduce the pressure on the council's finances and help to meet our priority of continuing to protect services for our most vulnerable people."

Changes to Friends' Groups' Constitutions

The key changes to the Friends of Lancashire Libraries Constitution and Guidance emphasise the role of Friends groups in supporting the service to develop and promote library-based activities rather than simply acting as ambassadors for libraries.

Friends of libraries groups carry out a wide variety of roles for their libraries from helping to spread the word about the services that the library offers, to developing activities, and supporting staff with community events.

Anyone who lives in the UK can join a Lancashire library, either online or by visiting in person. It's free and there are no age restrictions.

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Alternatively call 0300 123 6703.