It's booking good

PUBLISHED: 13:31 16 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:20 04 May 2010

THERE S a happy ending for Cambridgeshire s libraries this year. The county council has boosted the book-buying fund by 25 per cent. Instead of the £900,000 it has been spending on more than 100,000 books a year, its £1.25million budget from April will en

THERE'S a happy ending for Cambridgeshire's libraries this year.

The county council has boosted the book-buying fund by 25 per cent.

Instead of the £900,000 it has been spending on more than 100,000 books a year, its £1.25million budget from April will enable the library service to put about 28,000 extra books on the shelves.

Head of libraries and information Lesley Noblett said: "The book fund had dropped in real terms over recent years, and it was important that councillors put more money in, even in the face of serious cuts."

Not all the money went on new books, she said. Many titles were borrowed for many years and replacement copies needed to be available to borrowers. Titles that went out of print were cleaned and re-bound.

"Some books last a number of years but eventually they do need to be replaced," she said, "and people want to read new books.

"But we sometimes have huge waiting lists because we can afford only a few copies."

The county has 32 static libraries and is about to spend £100,000 to replace one of the eight mobile libraries. They are used by 2.8 million people, who borrow 3.2 million items.

Since opening hours were extended a few years ago, use of the buildings had increased markedly, Mrs Noblett said, particularly by extending opening hours at Huntingdon - the second best-used library after the Central library in Cambridge - and St Neots.

County council cabinet member for environment and community services, Councillor John Reynolds, said: "Cambridgeshire received one of the worst government grant settlements in the country but, despite that financial shortfall, we have been able to demonstrate our support for the library and information service by finding an extra £225,000 for the book fund.

"We are determined to create a library service for the 21st century and this extra funding, coupled with recent improvements to the mobile library service and the opening of another new library of Burwell, certainly demonstrate that commitment," he said.

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