How you can help preserve our libraries’ shelf life
Published on: 02 Feb 2016
LIBRARIES in Downend, Staple Hill and Emersons Green could see more volunteers working alongside paid staff in future and additional services being located alongside the books.
South Gloucestershire Council is looking at ways to save money while ensuring the library service is protected.
It is consulting on options including ending the mobile library service, shutting Chipping Sodbury Library and reducing hours at some other centres with the aim of cutting £640,000 from the budget.
But the council hopes that local groups, individuals and potentially town and parish councils can help limit any reductions in service.
Any changes that are eventually decided will not come into effect until October 2017.
The council’s communities committee has approved plans for a consultation with the public, community groups and staff to begin this month.
Committee chairwoman Councillor Heather Goddard said: “We appreciate that our libraries are a very valuable resource for many residents and that the services people use, and the support they receive from our dedicated staff, extend far beyond borrowing books.
“In order to preserve our libraries in a sustainable way, we do have to look at changing the way we deliver the service. However, before we make any decisions, we want to hear the views of the community.
“The proposals in the consultation are really a starting point. We fully expect that we will find common cause with residents, community groups and our colleagues in town and parish councils in looking for ways we can continue to deliver library services to people together.”
The committee is also looking at plans for ‘community hubs’ and has adopted a policy to develop a model of co-located services, including libraries, One Stop Shops (OSS) and potentially other public sector organisations in single, easy-to-access facilities, where possible.
Priority areas to look at delivering services in this way will be Kingswood, Patchway and Yate and the committee also agreed that the council should develop plans to pilot new technological ways of providing access to services in Thornbury.
Mrs Goddard said: “Although there is reduced funding for the council to provide services, we know there is no reduction in demand. We know that residents like the idea of services being available together and so we will pursue the idea of Community Hubs as a way of potentially reducing some overhead costs, while not reducing peoples’ access to front-line assistance.”
The Committee also agreed to adopt a policy to keep the council’s existing public toilet facilities under review. South Gloucestershire maintain 15 public conveniences, at a cost of more than £175,000 each year. An assessment of the facilities condition was presented to councillors that indicated an additional maintenance bill for £75,000 was likely in the next five years.
Councillors agreed that facilities could potentially close where suitable alternative facilities could be identified within half a mile.
The library service consultation process will begin on 22 February and run for 12 weeks. Details will be published online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation.