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Libraries consultation nears end

Time is running out to have your say on Staffordshire’s libraries consultation.

More than 1,400 responses have already been received in advance of the April 1 deadline.

A series of public events have been held at libraries and mobile and travelling library stops throughout the 12 week consultation.

Discussions have included potentially using technology to maintain and extend opening hours with an automated service, possibly increasing the number of community managed libraries and reviewing how the mobile and travelling service is used.

Now anyone else who wants to share their opinion can fill in a questionnaire at a library, email their views to connectedlibraries@staffordshire.gov.uk or go to the www.staffordshire.gov.uk/connectedlibraries webpage.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said:

I’m very pleased that more than 1,400 people and organisations have responded so far, but there’s still a little time for others to contribute.”

Since 2014 23 of the county’s libraries have been transferred, or are in the process of being transferred, to community groups which take over the management and day-to-day running of the building, while the council remains responsible for agreed utility bills and maintenance costs. These 23 libraries are not being considered in this consultation.

People will be asked to comment on possible options for each of the remaining 20 libraries, including:

  • maintaining and extending existing opening hours by using technology to allow registered users access to the library outside core hours. No library would become completely self-service;
  • maintaining and extending existing opening hours by using more volunteers;
  • becoming a community-managed library, where a group takes over the management and day-to-day running, with access to all the council’s library resources, while the authority remains responsible for agreed utility bills and maintenance costs.

All 20 libraries involved in the process will be considered for the options involving maintaining and extending existing opening hours. They are: Biddulph, Burntwood, Burton, Cannock, Cheadle, Clayton, Codsall, Eccleshall, Kidsgrove, Leek, Lichfield, Newcastle, Penkridge, Perton, Rugeley, Stafford, Stone, Tamworth, Uttoxeter and Wombourne.

The four ‘least busy’ libraries of Cheadle, Clayton, Eccleshall and Penkridge will also be considered for suitability to become community-managed libraries.

Gill Heath said:

We have worked hard in recent years to buck the trend of closures happening in so many other places and have succeeded in keeping all Staffordshire’s 43 libraries open as part of our statutory provision.

This consultation is about looking to the future and examining ideas already being used in other parts of the country to see how we can keep our libraries relevant to people’s changing needs.”