A report from the Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing and Support Services is attached.
The Cabinet Member (Strategic Housing and Support Services) submitted a report regarding a proposed consultation on the Bury Library Service which will be based on six Key Principles. The responses received could be used to provide the framework for a full review of the Bury Library Service in 2017.
The six Key Principles to be consulted on are:
1. To provide a Library Service across the borough which provide all residents with access to libraries and electronic services sufficient in number, range and quality to support reading for pleasure, lifelong learning, the development of new skills and the effective use of information.
2. To ensure that the needs of more vulnerable residents and groups protected by Equalities legislation are taken fully into account in the provision of these services.
3. To ensure that the resources committed to the library service are used as efficiently as possible by exploring options to reduce running and maintenance costs and to share premises with Council and other services.
4. To explore options for investing in technology to improve access to the library service for example by extending opening hours, increasing our digital services and enhancing provision for those with sensory impairments.
5. To welcome the contribution that members of the community can make to the Library Service as volunteers, supporting both traditional and digital services.
6. To meet local aspirations for a network of community spaces across the borough in which the council and local communities can work together as partners in meeting local needs.
In order to gain a wide range of views on the service, contact will be made with current library service users and non-users. The consultation will include an online survey, telephone survey, public meetings and face to face contact and this will be will be supported by a consultancy company.
The report provided an indicative timetable for the process to be followed, including the submission of the outcome of the first consultation phase report to Cabinet in October. A second consultation would then take place with a final report to Cabinet in March 2017. Consultation would then take place with staff members during April and May 2017 with the final implementation of proposals anticipated by 1 July 2017.
Questions and comments were invited from the Committee and the following issues were raised:
· In response to a question concerning the effectiveness of the consultation methods, the Cabinet Member explained that a full strategy in place to monitor the consultations. The Cabinet Member explained that a key part of process will be to get the views of non service users to find out what things would make those resident use libraries.
· Councillor Black highlighted the potential benefits of integrating services and working with partners as a means of ensuring libraries are sustainable for the future.
· Councillor Roy Walker suggested that the principle of retaining a Central Library worthy of the town the size of Bury should be included as a principle within the report.
· Councillor Roy Walker requested a breakdown of book issue figures for libraries within the borough. The Cabinet Member cautioned about looking at book issue figures in isolation and stressed the need to also look at footfall and usage of services.
It was agreed:
That this Committee supports the key principles that will drive the review of the Library Service, as set out in the report.