Staffordshire County Council has named the applicants set to take over the management and delivery of its community libraries.
Eight contracts have been offered to community bodies, schools and a business enterprise group in the second phase of transfers, bringing the total number of libraries transferred, or in the process of transferring, to 19.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said:
I’m very excited by the quality of the successful applications: there’s enthusiasm, experience, skills and, above all, a passion to make each library responsive to the needs of its community.”
The first phase of transfers has already been completed and the future is taking shape across the county.”
This step is part of the county council’s long term plan to re-energise its library service after years of declining use.
Twenty of the council’s 43 libraries will be managed and staffed by the county council’s library service, while 23 will be supported by not-for-profit groups in the community.
Management groups still have to be appointed for the libraries at Cheslyn Hay, Great Wyrley, Loggerheads and Talke and they will be the subject of a third round of bid development.
Gill Heath said:
We’ll be working very hard in these four remaining areas to stimulate interest, explain what support’s on offer from the county council and how we can help, but if no-one comes forward there may be a reduction in opening hours.”
Community libraries are supported by the county council to take over the day-to-day running and management of the library. They will have access to the library service’s stock and IT network, while the county council remains responsible for agreed utility and maintenance costs.
Gill Heath said:
The use of traditional libraries has fallen markedly in recent years, but we’re working very hard with communities in the last few years, to ensure they not only retain their library but have a thriving asset in their midst.
We’ve already seen those transferred in the first phase finding their feet and are beginning to do some imaginative things.”
Notes for editors
The decision to divide the libraries estate between 20 managed and delivered directly by the county council and 23 managed and delivered by community groups or voluntary and public sector organisations was made In February 2015 after two rounds of public consultation and a further round with library staff during 2014.
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 second phase libraries and successful applicants are: Audley: Audley Community Group; Brereton: Redbrook Hayes Community Primary School; Gnosall: GLEAN (Gnosall Library Enterprise And Nurture); Kinver: Kinver Community Group; Knutton: Knutton St Mary’s Primary Academy; Shenstone: Shenstone Community Group; Silverdale: Business Enterprise Support; Wilnecote: Wilnecote High School.