A Library Service fit for the future will be delivered to the people of Hampshire, following one of the largest public consultations held by Hampshire County Council.
The Library Strategy approved today (18 April) has been shaped by the 9,500 responses collected during the consultation. The Strategy will provide an approach to meet customers’ demands for a modern service – making the most of emerging digital technologies and investing in library buildings.
Planned improvements include exploring the use of electronic self-service counters to provide extended opening hours in some locations, and the refurbishment of a number of sites to make them bright and more welcoming to visitors.
In addition, the Home Library Service will be expanded to replace the relatively high-cost Mobile Library Service. 62% of consultation respondents were in favour of stopping the Mobile Library Service which is used by just 1% of total library customers, and costs £11.44 per visit per customer, compared to £2.23 per static library visit. Mobile library vehicles are also in need of frequent repair as they near the end of their ten-year leases. As a result, the Mobile Library Service will no longer run after June this year. Additional alternatives offered by the Library Service include:
Working with local communities in the 20 busiest mobile library stops to identify opportunities for volunteers to deliver books to appropriate community gatherings Offering free online library learning services in communities that will no longer have a mobile library stop Developing links with voluntary sector groups that provide community transport to help rural communities access their local library when they no longer have a mobile stop.
The County Council is facing its most challenging period of prolonged national austerity measures, which has seen huge reductions in the Authority’s funding from central Government in recent years. The closure of the Mobile Library Service will contribute £360,000 towards a total library savings target of at least £1.7 million by 2020. Further savings are set to be delivered through a combination of the following approved proposals which also received public support during the consultation:
Sharing library buildings with complementary partner organisations (77% agreed)
Withdrawing poorly used library collections such as CDs, games, and DVDs (75% agreed)
Increasing the number of trained volunteers to support paid library staff (58% agreed)
Further details, including the consultation results and a draft of the revised Library Strategy, can be found in the Decision Day report to the Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside.