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Next step in review of borough libraries

Proposals to develop a new way of delivering the borough’s library service were agreed at the meeting of the council’s executive on Tuesday, 14 March.

The plan will see the council attempting to keep all 9 libraries open and even extending opening hours in some libraries. New technology, such as self-service kiosks and technology assisted opening, will be installed across all libraries and services will be provided by experienced library staff, supported by trained volunteers.

The proposals were agreed following a thorough review over the past 9 months. This included consultation with residents to understand how the library service can continue to reflect community needs while providing significant savings and efficiencies.

The review highlighted that residents understand the financial pressures facing the council and a large number indicated they would be prepared to keep libraries open by volunteering to support library staff.

Next steps for the council include:

  • finding a suitable company to provide new technology in all nine libraries, with installation starting from autumn 2017
  • recruiting and training of volunteers through a volunteering programme, to work alongside experienced library staff
  • providing a more modern automated approach to stock management, to make it more efficient

Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, corporate services and public protection, said:

The public’s response to the consultation, which included public meetings, focus groups and the completion of more than 2,000 questionnaires, was very enlightening. It was also influential in determining how the council balances the need to make substantial economies in its library service, while providing a service that residents want.

Residents told us they value the borough’s library services which continue to play a significant role in their communities. So rather than close libraries, as many other councils have done, we are embarking on a journey to help keep them open.

We will do this through the use of new technology, trained volunteers and operational efficiencies, to ensure residents get more out of their library service.

The availability of a pool of volunteers will be the key to maintaining the full network of 9 libraries.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer in a borough library, please email and find out how you can get involved.