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New future for libraries and civic halls

Press release   •   Apr 04, 2013 13:06 BST

Proposals to retain all of Bury’s libraries and create a series of community hubs are to be considered next week by the council’s cabinet.

The goal is to create a modern, sustainable library service to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s residents, while making greater use of facilities such as the borough’s civic halls.

Community hubs aim to be a welcoming and accessible place where all members of the community can access a range of services, from education and cultural activities to health and well-being and community gatherings. This should provide better services and ensure that they represent good value for money.

The proposals are to remodel services at four libraries:

* To create a community hub in Radcliffe by relocating Radcliffe Library to a more modern provision in a remodelled Radcliffe Civic Suite, along with some additional services from Adult Care.

* To relocate Unsworth Library to the nearby Sunnybank Community Centre, which would be extended to accommodate the library provision, and would also have the advantage of free parking

* Relocate Prestwich Library into the Longfield Suite

* To reassign part of Whitefield Library to Adult Care Learning Disability Day Services while keeping a  space for the Sensory Impairment Unit.

The cabinet is due to consider the proposals on Wednesday 10 April. If approved, the plans will go out for consultation – at public events and questionnaires – and brought back to cabinet in June 2013.

The proposals are informed by a wide review of library provision carried out by the council last year, as well as a public consultation. One of the key findings was that more than 75% of respondents thought that combining libraries and other services in one place within communities would provide better services for residents.

Councillor Jane Lewis, cabinet member for leisure, tourism and culture, said: “Our challenge has been how best to provide a comprehensive, modern and cost-efficient service, against a background of unprecedented change. In this day and age, the emphasis has moved from buildings and books to virtual access via the web and to electronic ways of information gathering such as e-books, websites and search engines.

“It’s essential that our library service modernises and develops innovative ways to maintain its relevance to individuals and communities. This includes embracing new technologies such as e-books and online information, the expansion of self-service technology, and co-location of buildings with a range of services that act as community hubs.

“These proposals, if approved, mean that we can keep all 17 of the council’s libraries open, modernise services for communities, improve access for all service users, and achieve the savings target agreed in the Plan for Change.”

To read the cabinet report, click http://burydem.bury.gov.uk/aksbury/images_tempdir/tmpfileOFVsAQqUdDC4dtF.doc

ENDS

Press release issued: 4 April 2013.