Criticism as £300,000 is spent on DVDs for Northamptonshire libraries in two years

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IN JUST two years, Northamptonshire County Council spent almost £360,000 on DVDs for the county’s libraries, latest figures have revealed.

Details released by the county council show the authority spent £194,016 on DVDs in the financial year 2009/10 and £165,532 in 2010/11.

The total bill of almost £360,000 has been condemned by members of the opposition Liberal Democrat party at County Hall, who have said the authority should cut back on the amount spent on films in light of the major cut-backs proposed by the authority.

The deputy leader of the opposition, Councillor Chris Stanbra (Lib Dem, Danesholme) said: “I think it’s fine that libraries rent out DVDs as a sideline to loaning books, but books are the main business they’re in and I would really have expected a large sum of money like this to have been spent on books.”

In its budget plans last year, the council suggested closing eight libraries, but they were given a last minute reprieve. However, in its latest budget proposals, the council has said savings of £290,000 will have to be made from the library service in 2013/14 and a further £790,000 in 2014/15.

Councillor Stanbra said: “If it’s a choice between having a library that has books and DVDs to loan out or not having a library at all, they should concentrate on books, and if that means having fewer DVDs that’s fine with me.

“I’d much rather have that than no library at all.”

There are 36 libraries across Northamptonshire and copies of the same film are often bought for several libraries to make sure they are available to all the county’s residents.

The DVDs are rented out for £2 a week or £3.50 for two weeks.

But despite the need for savings to be made across the council, a spokesman for the authority insisted DVDs represented an important part of the library service.

She said: “Our libraries aren’t just about books and in order to make sure our customers have access to the latest DVD releases we regularly update our stock.

“We’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet discovered our DVD rental collection to check it out, either at a library or on our website’s catalogue search facility.”

A final decision on the council’s budget plans will be made in February.