Suffolk's new libraries board recruits teenager

As libraries in Suffolk face more than 25% funding cuts, one teenager is hoping to make a difference to their future.

Image caption Ryan Jay hopes to get other communities involved in their local libraries

Ryan Jay had been volunteering for five years with youth projects at Gainsborough Library, in Ipswich.

It is this experience that has led the 18-year-old to be appointed on an 11-strong board set up to run all of the county's 44 libraries.

Mr Jay, who has also been chosen to be an Olympic torchbearer when it passes through Suffolk in July, said he hoped he could help "shape Suffolk's libraries in the future".

The Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) is being set up to help the county council reduce costs of running libraries from nearly £9m in 2010-11 to £6.4m.

About 20 jobs from a full-time equivalent of 160 will be lost as part of the move.

However, the Conservative-run council has said it meant all of its libraries would remain open.

A 'safe place'

The IPS, which is made up of members of the 44 individual libraries' community groups, has formed an interim board.

Members of the society will vote for an elected board in 18 months' time.

"I think it's important for young people to have a voice on the board and to represent the community where I come from," said Mr Jay.

"It's more than a library here - it's a community place and offers young people a safe place to come and meet and offers trips, training and reading challenges.

"I think [the IPS] is a great opportunity for communities to get involved and look at the way their library works, shape their library service and their community."

Mr Jay was nominated for the board by Gainsborough Library's community group. He had to submit an application, but did not have to face an interview.

'Power to the people'

Image caption Gainsborough Library ran a street art/graffiti project in 2010

Councillor Judy Terry, cabinet spokesperson for libraries, said: "[Mr Jay] started at Gainsborough in his early teens and he's done some wonderful work there.

"His enthusiasm and his age will bring a completely new dimension to the service.

"This is real 'power to the people' and I'm very thrilled that there's been such a fantastic response to set up this board and take it forward."

The IPS will receive 95% of its funding from Suffolk County Council.

The remaining 5% will come from libraries generating their own income by carrying out other commercial ventures, such as hiring out rooms and running cafes.

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