A councillor says he would “welcome the opportunity” to outline plans for the future of Lichfield Library if a petition triggers a debate on the issue.
Campaigners are hoping to gain 5,000 signatures in order to force Staffordshire County Council to discuss the proposals.
The authority has drawn up plans to move Lichfield Library to St Mary’s in the Market Square. The current home at The Friary would then be redeveloped as residential accomodation.
Members of the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party have created an online petition and have been out gathering signatures on the streets of the city in a bid to force a public consultation on the the library’s future.
But Cllr Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for learning and skills, says he would welcome the chance to showcase the reality of the plans.
“While the Save Lichfield Library petition ambiguously suggests the city is to lose its library, the reality of course couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
“At a time when many authorities are closing libraries, our proposal will not only see £1m invested to provide a first class facility in the very heart of the city, but will also help safeguard both St Mary’s and The Friary.
“Petitions which receive at least 5,000 signatures from local people are discussed at our full council and if this is the case here, I would absolutely welcome a further opportunity to share our plans to create a modern, accessible library space for families in Lichfield to enjoy for years to come.”
But the Green Party’s chairman in Lichfield and Burntwood, Robert Pass, said that the council should have consulted with local residents and library users before now.
“The sell off has never been put to the people of Lichfield,” he said.
“The use of libraries has changed, but a small church building is completely unsuitable for the requirements of Lichfield’s main library.
“There are many services in modern libraries other than borrowing books. The county council should focus on enabling the potential of The Friary building as a community hub.
“St Mary’s Church does not have the capacity to realise this potential, as well as housing the city’s main museum and tourist information office.”