An alternative proposal to keep Deepings Library open with paid council staff has failed, leaving its future in the hands of volunteers.
Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council spent the summer discussing a plan backed by Deepings MP John Hayes (Con) to save the library in Market Deeping from closure.
The proposal was to move the two district council staff from the Deepings Community Centre to the library, with the county taking on one of the salaries. This would have allowed the library to stay open with paid staff in a similar operation to the community access point at Bourne Corn Exchange.
The proposal was put forward after the county council pulled the funding from two thirds of its libraries, including Deepings.
But after months of talks it was revealed on Wednesday that the proposal would not go forward.
The county’s executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) said: “Despite best efforts on both sides, it has not been possible to find a practical and viable way for the district council to take on Deepings Library at this time.
“However, the Friends of Deepings Library have previously provided a detailed and realistic business plan for a volunteer-run facility, and there is clearly enough support from local residents for this to work.
“Now is the time for the group to decide whether they want to go-ahead with a community hub or completely abandon their former plans.”
The county council would offer financial support, including £5,000 towards running costs, and professional advice to the volunteers. The building has been closed over the summer while the council refurbished offices above the library so they can be rented out.
Coun Worth added: “Of course, if the volunteers decide not to go-ahead, we’ll continue to provide a mobile service for the area. But hopefully that won’t be necessary, and those who have shown such passion for the library in the past will help to make a community hub a reality.”
Labour county councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks said the alternative proposal “could have secured the future of Deepings Library at no extra cost to council taxpayers”.
He criticised the council for putting a £13m surplus into its reserves, adding: “The collapse of the potential deal with the district council to run Deepings Library after six months of talks is deeply disappointing, but I will not give up working with others of all parties and none until we secure a sustainable plan to save Deepings Library.”
Friends of Deepings Library chairman Liz Waterland said the group was considering its options, adding: “We are exploring further avenues to keep the library open.”