FOUR of the borough's libraries will close their doors today for the final time as council-run facilities.

Following approval of the St Helens Library Strategy for 2023-2028, four of the borough's libraries - Garswood, Rainhill, Rainford and Parr - will no longer be maintained by the local authority after today, Friday, January 26.   

At a cabinet meeting in October last year, senior councillors approved the five-year strategy, which will see several library buildings cease to be run by the local authority.

The council says the strategy still aims to increase library membership, reach new individuals and communities, as well as tackle inequalities - while delivering more efficiently to address what it calls "severe budget pressures placed on the council". The local authority says it has had funding from Central Government slashed from £127m in 2010 to just £11m in 2023.  

The decision to axe four libraries and also not to reopen Peter Street and Billinge libraries, which have already been closed for some time due to the expiry of a building lease and structural issues respectively, proved controversial and were strongly opposed by many in the communities affected.

Campaigners expressed anger and sadness at what they branded a "disastrous decision" made, despite a majority of respondents to a public consultation being opposed to the closure of library buildings.

There has been much sadness expressed in the affected communities ahead of today's closures.

St Helens Council claims the new strategy will focus "on providing resources in areas of greatest need", with outreach work such as pop-up libraries, schools library service; home delivery; the reintroduction of click and collect and a big push on digital platforms such as Borrowbox - given the significant increase in usage - among the key aspects to improve the service in the future. 

St Helens Library - based in the World of Glass Museum - will remain open, along with Newton-le-Willows, Chester Lane, Haydock, Eccleston, Moss Bank and Thatto Heath - leaving the borough with seven operational libraries. 

Meanwhile, Garswood, Rainhill, Rainford and Parr will no longer be council maintained and will close on Friday, January 26.

St Helens Star: Garswood, Rainhill, Rainford and Parr Libraries will close today Garswood, Rainhill, Rainford and Parr Libraries will close today (Image: Canva)

The council says "positive talks" continue with groups interested in a community-managed approach in a number of the areas affected by closures.

The local authority adds there is a formal community asset transfer process to go through before any buildings can reopen as community-managed spaces as per the Community Asset Transfer Policy approved by cabinet on September  13, 2023.   

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Library members who have taken out books from any of the four libraries set to close at the end of the month are able to visit the seven remaining libraries as part of their membership where books can be returned and loaned as normal.     

Meanwhile, as part of the new model, opening hours will change from Saturday, January 27, following feedback from a public consultation, with evening and weekend library users able to visit St Helens and Newton-le-Willows libraries until 7pm on a Monday and between 10am and 1pm on a Saturday.     

The council says it is anticipated that the service will achieve savings of £338,000 a year – what it calls "a significant amount as the council tightens its belt in response to year-on-year government funding reductions, while dealing with an increase in demand in adult's and children's social care".  

The council says it will continue to invest in the assets it still has, with Haydock Library set to undergo a £275,000 refurbishment from external funding to become the borough’s first SEND specialist library this year – and return St Helens Library to its original home in The Gamble Building once internal refurbishment works are completed.      

  • St Helens Borough Council is welcoming bids from individuals and groups keen on delivering a community-managed library, with interested parties asked to contact for more information. To find out more about St Helens Library Service, including how to become a member or to sign up for home delivery and digital services, visit: