Sunday, 12 June 2011

People Offer Views on Library Cost-Cutting


Rugby Library will be affected by cost cutting measures

By Ben Aulakh

More than 4, 000 people have given their views on how Warwickshire’s library service is to be reshaped, as spending is cut by £2 million by the county council.

The Library and Information Service must cut spending by £2 million over the next three years as part of plans to achieve required savings of more than £70m across all services.

The 12-week consultation on has given people the chance to have their say on plans to reform the library network and cut costs.

Cllr Colin Hayfield, Portfolio-holder for Customers, Workforce and Partnerships, said: “This will be the biggest transformation in the history of Warwickshire’s library service.”

A total of 16 Warwickshire libraries have been identified as no longer sustainable in their current form.

The service will have to integrate cost-cutting measures including reduced opening hours, fewer staff and a smaller mobile library fleet; the number of public computers across the library network will also be reduced.

So far more than 4,000 people have completed questionnaires – 2,025 handed in as written questionnaires and 2,050 completed online.

Many hundreds of other people have visited roadshows and public meetings to find out more about the proposals for the future of the service.

There have also been about 3,000 visits in the last few weeks to a dedicated online blog bringing the latest information about the consultation at www.libraryconsult.wordpress.com

Councillor Hayfield said there had also been strong interest from a number of communities interested in setting up their own libraries.

“As well as offering staff support to communities preparing business plans, the County Council has set aside £100,000 to help volunteer-run library projects get off the ground.”

“We are also prepared, in principle, to consider leasing council-owned library buildings at a peppercorn rent to communities submitting a strong business case.”

All consultation feedback received by June 9 will be analysed and reported to Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet in July.

The report will be made public at the same time. Councillors will consider the contents before making any final decisions on the future of the library service.

More information, along with the library consultation questionnaire, is available in all Warwickshire libraries and online at: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/facingthechallenge

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