15 February 2011

Northamptonshire County Council is no longer proposing to close any libraries as part of the current budget proposals published today (Tuesday 15th February).

The new proposals have been drawn up in response to the considerable feedback received during the budget consultation, with comments received from around 9,500 residents.

Instead, the council is proposing to carry out a wide-ranging review of all 36 libraries to look at new ways of delivering library services in partnership with local communities and to explore new functions for the libraries.

The review would look at ways of delivering libraries that maximise community contributions, such as increasing the use of volunteer time and expertise and opportunities for voluntary donations and sponsorship so that local people and local businesses can invest directly in their library to support learning and achievement and to promote health and well-being.

Already, local people have come forward to raise money to retain their library service and to offer their time and expertise to help run their library. So far, the communities of Finedon, Moulton, Roade and Wollaston together have committed some £40,000 to support their local libraries for the next two years and these efforts will be used as the inspiration to pioneer a Big Society library service across Northamptonshire.

It would also explore ways of making savings within the library services such as shared service opportunities with neighbouring library authorities and developing the libraries into community hubs that can offer a range of other public services.

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “Our financial challenges haven’t changed and we are still facing enormous pressures as a result of our reduced funding from government, but the You Choose consultation has been enormously valuable in helping us to hear what local people are saying.

“We have had a significant number of comments about the importance of local libraries and the role they play in supporting our communities.

“We want to harness that commitment to pioneer a Big Society library service here in Northamptonshire which is why we are proposing this review to set out a clear future for each of our libraries. Already communities have come together to raise £40,000 to retain their local libraries – we will now be looking to other communities to step forward to pledge support for their local library services.

“The review means we could see libraries merging with other local services for example, or becoming community-led independent libraries, or prosperity or volunteering hubs. We might also see libraries playing an important role in helping newcomers to the county integrate with their local area or becoming a centre for intergenerational activity.

“It could also mean that some libraries may still be identified for eventual closure but this review will allow time for us to work with local Friends of the Library groups and parish councils and other local people to develop these innovative ideas and make these community-led new arrangements a reality.”

Additional information:

  • Closing the eight libraries would have achieved circa £180,000 saving.
  • A further proposed saving of £640,000 still remains in the final budget proposals being considered by cabinet today. This relates to a reduction in the mobile library service and reductions in management, support staff and library staff, with a commitment to retain those roles which distinctively develop services for children, young people and families and those who focus on community development.
  • Since the publication of the draft budget in December 2010 we have received responses from over 9,500 people in relation to the proposal to close eight libraries (Finedon, St James, Irchester, Danesholme, Woodford Halse, Roade, Moulton, Wollaston)
  • 76% of the feedback received during the budget consultation was regarding libraries.