A new chapter for Kidsgrove library

Library 2014Library users and residents across Staffordshire will be invited to help shape the future direction of their local library in a major consultation.

As the way people use libraries continues to change, the county council has announced proposals to meet that shifting demand and safeguard the service for the future.

They would mean more services are available online while in some areas the county council is looking for communities to get more involved, and even take on and run their local library. The county council will also explore if partners such as police or health services want to share buildings with libraries, to provide more services in one place to local people.

Mike Lawrence, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Children, Localism and Communities, asked for a 12 week consultation on the future of the county library service. He said: “While communities love their libraries the way people use them is changing. We want to act now so that they remain relevant and popular for years to come.

“Libraries have already changed a great deal in the last decade, but user numbers are still falling. We need to change, radically, to reinvigorate our libraries so they are better used within their communities and to do this within the council’s financial resources.”

The proposals involve moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working with individual communities to find more flexible approaches to providing the things people want from their library.

Countywide, visits to libraries have declined by almost 12 per cent over the last three years and issues of physical books have reduced by 19 per cent.

Mike Lawrence said: “Library usage is falling in particular as more people go online to read, find information or socialise. We need to respond to that so we want communities to have a bigger say in what they want from their local library and to tell us how they want to be involved. And the greater their enthusiasm, the more they can be involved.”

“To be clear, there are no plans to close any libraries and these changes are not simply about saving money. It’s fair to say that across the council we need to find new, more efficient ways of working, and we think the new approach will help to cut some costs. However, these proposals are about moving with the times so that we safeguard a much-loved service.”

The three types of library being suggested for the future have been dubbed: ‘library extra’, ‘library core’ and ‘library local’.

The county council will continue to provide a full service through ‘library extra’ and ‘library core’ and it is expected that the ‘library extra’ particularly will share space and facilities with a wide range of other services.

‘Library local’ will be the most localised service, with the community deciding what it wants and then delivering it, with county council support. This would vary from one place to another and has already been introduced elsewhere in the country.

The consultation runs from 16 July to 7 October 2014, find out more at the library proposal webpages: http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/librariesnew/Help-shape-library-service/Help-shape-library-service.aspx

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