Plans to spend £165,000 on signs for Northamptonshire libraries criticised

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PLANS to spend £165,000 on ‘flashing signs’ to tell people what is happening in Northamptonshire’s libraries have been criticised by the leader of the opposition at County Hall.

Northamptonshire County Council has revealed plans to spend the six-figure sum on signs at the county’s 35 libraries.

The council said they will be used to “keep readers informed of what is going on at the libraries”.

But the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the county council, Councillor Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem, Delapre) said the money should have been spent on new library books or wages for library workers.

He said: “I think in this time of austerity, this is a real waste of money.

“The hardest thing to do is get people into libraries. Once people use them, they use them all the time and most people know what’s going on.

“So I think the county council is wrong to spend this money on flashing signs, it’s all a fascade.

“This £165,000 would be much better off re-invested in the actual libraries themselves. It could be spent on staff or new books.”

The £165,000 cost of the signage contract will include the installation of the devices and their maintenance over five years.

A spokesman for the council said the move would make the county’s libraries “fit for the future”.

She said: “We are looking for a company to supply, install and maintain electronic signs in 35 libraries for the next five years.

“This is part of our work to make libraries fit for the future and will be used to keep library visitors informed with what’s happening at their local library and the wide range of services available, whether it’s a job club, free internet access on a Friday or a Rhymetime session, for example.

“We want to encourage more people to make use of the services on offer, so that libraries can continue to thrive in the future.”

It is estimated that work to install the electronic signs across the county’s libraries will begin in August this year. The contract to maintain them will run until August 2017.

Companies have been given until May 17 to apply to the council for the contract.

It is hoped once the signs are installed, they may be able to be updated over the internet.