People are being asked to share their views on plans to transform the way library services are delivered in Plymouth.
Plymouth City Council has produced a draft 'Plan for Libraries' which they say aims to modernise Plymouth’s library services over the next three years so they better meet the needs of local communities and make better use of resources.
In November 2015, Plymouth City Council said it faced a funding gap of £65 million over 3 years, and would need to cut spending by £23 million the year after.
Similar funding deficits in Councils across the region have meant tough decisions have been made on where to find savings.
Services like libraries and leisure centres have taken - or have been earmarked to take - a hit in numerous local authorities, proposals that have often been met with angry protests.
The City Council says Plymouth has a network of 17 libraries but there are big differences in the services they offer and many are under-used and expensive to run. According to the Council, 7 libraries account for 80% of all library visits and 75% of all items borrowed.
Visitor numbers and lending figures are also falling – as they are nationally – and the Council needs to find more flexible, cost-effective and convenient ways of providing services that can adapt to customers’ changing needs.
The plan proposes to close 10 library buildings that the Council say are under-used and suggest they could instead invest in improving the others.
The Council says the plan will make it possible to...
- Keep busier libraries open and ensure that the majority of Plymouth residents live within two miles of a library building.
- Modernise or refurbish buildings where needed, including the redevelopment of St Budeaux Library, where there has not been any significant investment for a number of years.
- Enhance online services to offer a wider range of eBooks, audiobooks and digital magazines.
- Create a new outreach offer, providing a wide range of services in settings within communities and expanding the Home Library Service for housebound users.
Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture, said:
“The way people use library services is changing but we haven’t altered our library network in more than 15 years.
“Many of our libraries are under-used with little or no scope for development but changes in technology mean we don’t need to be constrained by our buildings; services can be delivered online and out in communities.
“The draft plan sets out a future for library services that will ensure all our buildings are modern and fit-for-purpose, as well as provide an exciting online offer, available 24/7 and a wide-ranging outreach service out that can be more responsive to community needs.”
The draft 'Plan for Libraries' is a proposal at this stage and no decisions have been made. Consultation will open at 9am on Wednesday 25 January and run until Wednesday 19 April.