Around 4,000 people took the opportunity to have their say in the first part of a comprehensive review of the borough’s library service.
The council is looking at every aspect of the service to make sure that, against a backdrop of major financial challenges, libraries will be in a strong position for the future.
An initial 12-week public consultation exercise has just finished, and the results are listed in a report which will be taken to the council’s cabinet next Wednesday (19 October).
At this stage there are no proposals to cut services or close libraries.
Cabinet members will be asked to note the findings of the first survey, carry out further consultation from late October to December, and come back with firm proposals in mid-January.
During the first round of consultation, a total of 3,537 written and online replies were received from the public. This was complemented by a second survey done by consultants, who carried out a random telephone survey of 500 people.
In the consultation, people were asked to give their views on six guiding principles for a future library service:
- To provide a library service across the borough which provides all
residents with access to libraries and electronic services sufficient in number, range and quality to support reading for pleasure, lifelong learning, the development of new skills and the effective use of information.
- To ensure that the needs of more vulnerable residents and
groups are taken fully into account in the provision of these services.
- To ensure that the resources committed to the library service are
used as efficiently as possible by exploring options to reduce running and
maintenance costs and to share premises with council and other services.
- To explore options for investing in technology to improve access
to the library service, for example by extending opening hours, increasing our digital services and enhancing provision for those with sensory impairments.
- To welcome the contribution that members of the community can
make to the library service as volunteers, supporting both traditional and
- To meet local aspirations for a network of community spaces
across the borough in which the council and local communities can work
together as partners in meeting local needs.
The consultation revealeda very positive response to all six principles, with between 70% and 98% of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing with each one.
Councillor Sandra Walmsley, cabinet member for strategic housing and support services, said: “I am pleased that so many people took the time to give us their views during the consultation.
“We will now use the survey results, which showed widespread support for the six guiding principles, as a basis on which to build a review of the library service.
“We are now proposing to move to the next phase of public consultation. This will include helping to arrange workshops at each library for users – and non-users – to discuss the priorities they have for a library service in the future.
“A report will be developed outlining a number of potential options, and presented to cabinet for discussion on 18 January 2017.”
To read next Wednesday’s full cabinet report, go to