More than 1,000 responses were received to a consultation on how our libraries can meet the changing needs of our community.
The council asked for residents’ views on the positive changes and different delivery methods we’ve been able to experiment with in response to the pandemic.
The library service has looked at the digital development, community engagement and volunteering that already exists within the service and how that can be developed further.
The 12-week consultation included 38 engagement sessions, including public sessions and those with parish councils, trustees, stakeholder groups and the Girls’ Policy Forum. A comprehensive needs analysis was also undertaken.
Councillor Samantha Rayner, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for corporate and resident services, culture and heritage, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation. The feedback will be carefully considered and will inform any decisions we make regarding the future of our library service.
“We wanted to understand what was important to our residents as this will help the council with how we shape our libraries going forward and has highlighted what services they value the most.
“These are exciting times for our libraries. We have seen how their usage has changed during the last year. The council has a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service that meets the needs of residents and the level of engagement in the consultation shows how highly regarded ours is in the community.”
The consultation ran from 6 February until 30 April with 1,003 responses received in total.
It looked at how library services are delivered across the borough including potential closures, change of hours as well as working with partners to help deliver the service.
The willingness of residents to volunteer to support library services was very encouraging. Suggestions put forward will be analysed ahead of making final recommendations.
Respondents were asked to prioritise their top 10 library services from a list of 20. A total of 914 people responded to this question.
The consultation has made it clear that an online digital offer alone cannot meet the reading and learning, health and wellbeing, or creativity needs of communities and Cabinet will consider these outcomes.
The responses will be reviewed, and a report is due to be considered by Cabinet in June where a final decision will be made about the future of libraries.