Library users sceptical about changes to Sunderland services

Locals unhappy with library services moving to Tesco, Fulwell
Locals unhappy with library services moving to Tesco, Roker.

Local residents have blasted plans to introduce book collections to a Sunderland supermarket after several libraries closed their doors.

Last October, Tesco launched a community-reading scheme with Sunderland Council for their Roker store as part of changes to the city’s library services.

The scheme also includes reading groups for adults and children, but regular visitors to Fulwell Library would rather have them kept in traditional libraries.

Mrs Theuw, from Fulwell, said: “They should just have these things in normal libraries because it’s too much of a hassle to do your shopping and go to the library at the same time.

Resident, Paul Wayman added: “It’s better than nothing, but I would rather have this library open every weekday rather than being closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Proposals were introduced after the controversial decision to close down nine libraries last October, which led to widespread anger from protesters.

Since then, the council have spent £500,000 on renovating the city centre library, due to finish on March 31, and have improved online services so that people can request books via the internet.

Other changes include extending services to schools, hospitals community centres and local shops with the aim of ‘taking the library to the people ‘ rather than vice-versa.

Rosie Peacock, Sunderland Council’s Media Relations Manager, said: “We aim to deliver activities which meet the needs of residents, their families and the wider community.”

“The changes will save the council £850,000 but are also designed to encourage more people to use library services.”

The number of people using traditional libraries has declined in the last few years with other media forms gradually taking over from hard-copy books.

While the Head of English at Sunderland University, Barry Lewis, believes libraries’ adjusting to the digital revolution is ‘welcome’, he also lamented the decrease in ‘three-dimensional’ books.

He said: “There has been far too much short-sighted diminishment of the stock. These books are always going to be required, no matter how many new gadgets arrive.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming debts faced by Western economies means more library services will be shut down, despite the protests of many, and that is sad.”

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