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Libraries throughout the country are under severe financial constraints and those in Buckinghamshire are no exception. But not all of them.

Since the early 2010s Bucks has operated a two-tier library system. The larger libraries such as High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Buckingham remain under the direct control of the county authorities.

Many smaller “village-based” ones operate as community libraries. These make use of county-owned premises and are provided with their IT systems and with most of their books by the county. Their “staff” are volunteers.

This means a considerable saving to the county authorities, and therefore ratepayers, in salary and benefit costs.

Most of the community libraries have been established with charitable status, meaning they are under the control of Trustees.  Many of them received a generous financial arrangement from the county authorities when they were first established and for a number of years afterwards.

The result of this is that community libraries now have total accumulated financial reserves of around £500,000. This sum must be far in excess of what these libraries require as financial reserves for a “rainy day”.

The question therefore is – how will the community libraries spend this money, which comes from the County council’s budget.  This is derived from ratepayers – businesses, and individuals like you and me. Can the community libraries be relied upon to spend it wisely?

My suggestion is that these libraries should be invited to repay a percentage of this money to the County authorities, either directly or to the wholly council-funded libraries in their catchment area.

What do you think?

Mike Dewey