Staffordshire’s first community libraries are up and running, with the promise of more to follow.
Werrington Community Voluntary Group is celebrating taking control of the management and day-to-day running of the village library with an event on May 14th.
Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, will be attending the celebration. He said:
The first wave of 11 community libraries will all complete their transfer into community hands in the coming weeks.”
Organisations like Werrington Community Voluntary Group have shown they have the enthusiasm and the ideas to deliver the council’s ambition of taking smaller libraries and putting them at the heart of their communities by developing and tailoring what they have to offer to meet specific local needs.”
The decision to transfer the day-to-day management of 23 of Staffordshire’s 43 libraries was taken after two rounds of public consultation and one with staff. It was sparked by the changing use of libraries and the number of people borrowing books falling by a fifth over three years.
Community libraries will still be supported by the county council. They’ll have access to the library service’s stock and IT network and the authority remains responsible for agreed utility and maintenance costs.
With training complete and 11 libraries already in the process of transferring to the community, applications for the remaining dozen can be made until July 29th.
Ben Adams said:
The idea is that these libraries have the freedom to be more responsive to the needs of the communities they serve.
We already have a good response for the second wave of applications and I think once people see libraries such as Werrington showing how the new system works, and the degree of support community libraries still receive from the council, then more applications will follow.”
Applications are welcome from community groups or voluntary and public sector organisations. Much more information is available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/communitylibraries .
Notes for editors
Staffordshire has 43 libraries. None has closed or been under threat of closure since the consultation process began in 2014. The review was sparked by the number of people borrowing books falling by a fifth over three years, while online use increased, and physical visits declining by almost 12 per cent.
The 11 libraries involved in the first wave are at Barton, Baswich, Blythe Bridge, Brewood, Glascote, Heath Hayes, Hednesford, Holmcroft, Norton Canes, Rising Brook and Werrington.
The dozen libraries involved in the second wave are at Audley, Brereton, Cheslyn Hay, Gnosall, Great Wyrley, Kinver, Knutton, Loggerheads, Shenstone, Silverdale, Talke and Wilnecote.