02 September 2011

The next stage of an extensive consultation into the future of the county’s library and information service will begin this weekend (3rd September).

Northamptonshire County Council is launching the public consultation phase of a library review which aims to ensure the county’s libraries are fit for the 21st century by March 2015.

During the past few months, the council has been speaking with key groups and organisations already involved with libraries such as Friends of the Library groups, district and borough councils and parish and town councils to get their feedback about how the service can be developed to ensure they can continue to thrive despite the ongoing financial challenges.

The results of these discussions are now being taken forward for public consultation. The consultation document is based around five key themes that aim to make libraries more self-supporting over the next four years and therefore reduce council costs by up to 50% as well as find ways to build on the already important role libraries play within their communities. The themes are:

  1. Jobs and prosperity centres
  2. Community hubs
  3. Helping people to help each other
  4. Maximising community contributions
  5. Transforming libraries

Councillor Heather Smith, county council cabinet member for customer services said: “This review is our response to the thousands of voices we heard during our budget consultation telling us why they value the library service and what it means to them in their lives.

“There are three million visits a year to county libraries and this number is growing as more people recognise that libraries in Northamptonshire are books and so much more – in short, they are Library Plus.

“We want to harness this enthusiasm and support to ensure that libraries have a strong and successful future. The difficult financial challenges we are facing mean that we need to find a realistic way to achieve this as we simply cannot afford to continue to completely fund the library service ourselves.

“We have already talked to our partners in other councils, not to mention our growing numbers of Friends of the Library groups and they have contributed to the first draft of the review.

“But now we need everyone to get involved in this consultation and we are providing lots of ways for people to play their part in the future of the library service in Northamptonshire.”

People can hear more about the review and give their feedback by attending one of the public meetings taking place during September:

10th September Central Library 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
17th September Weston Favell Library 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
17th September Wellingborough Library 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
24th September Kettering Library 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
24th September Daventry Library 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
25th September Corby Library 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

A video booth will be available at the public meetings for anyone who wants to record their views. People can also learn more about the review and fill in a survey at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/libraries

Councillor Smith said: “These are your libraries and we are proposing a future where your contribution – in money, in time, or in kind – is asked for and recognised and appreciated.

”This review sets out a plan where instead of closing libraries or reducing opening hours, we diversify the way libraries are funded. We intend to review how we are doing in Summer 2013 as a mid-point but if progress is not on track we will have to consider closures once again.

“No-one wants that, so please help us shape and deliver a service that 58% of the population use now and the next generation rely on.”