The Guardian, Comment is Free: Community-run libraries are part of the degradation of the service

Volunteers can bring much to libraries, but the fact they are replacing paid staff shows how much de-skilling has taken place

Surrey Libraries Action Movement (Slam) is celebrating after the high court ruled that Surrey county council’s plan to replace trained librarians with a volunteer-only service in 10 of its libraries was unlawful. Following Slam’s legal challenge, Mr Justice Wilkie stated that the council had failed to assess the adverse impact of the decision on vulnerable groups, contravening the Equality Act 2010.

But the battle is not over yet. The council believes providing equality and diversity training for volunteers may see the plan go ahead, and across the country library services are in the crosshairs as councils face a 28% cut in central government funding over a four-year period. “Community partnership” models such as that proposed for Surrey are being widely considered and some libraries are already operating under this model…

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Photo: University of Essex