Innovation key to survival of libraries

Libraries have to respond to changes in technology if they are to survive in the long-term, the leader of Shropshire Council has said.

Libraries have to respond to changes in technology if they are to survive in the long-term, the leader of Shropshire Council has said.

The county’s libraries have escaped swingeing cuts in the latest review of services by Shropshire Council. But Councillor Keith Barrow has warned that if libraries do not move with the times, they may not come through any future cuts to council budgets unscathed.

Councillor Barrow was answering questions at an Oswestry business meeting.

“Libraries are incredibly important and we have managed to keep them open in Shropshire,” he said.

“A review of our library service made small changes to the mobile library cover that took two vehicles off the road yet left no area without a service,” he said.

“But if Shropshire Council finds itself being made to make another 25 per cent of cuts in two or three years time, one of the first services that will be scrutinised will be libraries.

“If there is a choice between social services or libraries then we would have no choice but to retain social services.”

Councillor Barrow said libraries had to move with the times and that widening the services offered in the libraries was something that was already being looked at by Shropshire Council.

There are plans to widen the services available at Oswestry library and provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ community hub.

“I love books and there is nothing better than turning the page of a book. However things are changing and I have to admit I have an electronic book reader,” he said.

“Libraries now have to be more than just places from where you borrow books and that is happening here.”

“I am not convinced that we have got our ideas for change right at this time and we are looking at it again.”

“New technology is changing all the time and libraries have to respond tor they will not survive.”

Oswestry teenager, Antonia Higgins, 15, has launched an online petition opposed to opening a community hub within the town’s library. She said libraries should provide a sanctuary in which children and adults can learn.

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Comments for: "Innovation key to survival of libraries"


Keith is spinning so fast he is danger of going into orbit - Shrewsbury reference library has been closed so we now have less reference facilities and less books in the main lending library to accommodate the merger.

Elderly people living in care homes no longer benefit from visits from the mobile library.

The library service has been cut.


Libraries - youth clubs .. these are ALL social services. When will you lot begin to measure the social good in monetary terms and factor in .. adult education, youth clubs, libraries in as a saving on health - social security payments etc.

Its utterley sickening how councils use things like the above as soft targets - when really these things *save* money .. if only it were measured AS money - not regarded as the comfort of the poor and lazy.


" I am not convinced that we have got our ideas for change right at this time and we are looking at it again".

Thank you for listening Cll Barrow!

The Oswestry Library is great as it is and well used. Please do not put a customer hub in its foyer.


to be fair im no fan of tories but the library is a victorian concept which is not up to date with technology of today

even on the dole you can get books for 10p from oxfam so no one will be deprived of the option of reading ever ever ever due to cost

on kindle you can download books for FREE even so libraries should be there yes but with coffeeshops and things in them paying the bill for the books and probably less books and more IT


hmmmm - I don't think you've been in the Oxfam shop recently - 10p, I think not.


Razor, You have not been to the Shrewsbury Archives then?


Not the sharpest one in the box Razor - its utter rubbish to rubbish any forms of reading - not everyone can pay for a Kindle, pay for a net account to download free books (of which are measured by their being classic or dead-cheap copywrite payments) but dumped as samplers to get you to pay-for more.

The country is a market-model which assumes ever more personal investment in your technology - upgrades, updates - or you stay (maybe you think its where 'they' belong) on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Mess people whom you think are below you about too much - after you run out of those mass industries you crop, those council you can cut - those benefits you can squeeze and yes, at the poor end they live with it, till someone extreme in one way or other offer a way out. Beware comrade, it might be one you may not have learned from your history books on your Kindle. Nothing is free - no not even those free Kindle books. Learn some about how stuff works today.


I work in a Northamptonshire Library which does have a 'community hub'. This is in a separate area from the books and a Customer Care advisor is employed to sort out problems for individuals e.g. payment of Council tax or housing enquiries. This additional use of our building means that we are more likely to remain safe from closure. Libraries desperately need to show that they are widely used and a necessity for the community as a whole.

I have visited Oswestry Library on several occasions and was very impressed. It is well laid out, busy, bright and inviting with the additional bonus of excellent toilet facilities and a drinks machine. Shropshire is to be congratulated on this particular library.


Councillor Barrow, you are so out of touch with how the rest of us live.

Bully for you with your electronic reader - most people are not wealthy enough to buy one let alone stock it with e-books. Just because you are lucky enough to not need to borrow books from the library doesn't mean that that is how it now is for everybody.

Libraries are an essential service for many people - enabling students to afford university courses because they can borrow rather than buy their reference books, for example. Allowing parents from poorer backgrounds to borrow bedtime stories to read to their kids (which is proven to improve childrens' attainment at school).

How many isolated, elderly people living out in the sticks would see no-one if it wasn't for the visit from the library van? Social interaction is proven to keep people happier, healthier and needing less support from health/social services.

And that is totally ignoring the value of reading and the way it enriches and enables people to achieve more in their lives.

Keith there is another way to saving money than cutting essential services. And if you can't see it we must be rid of you at the next election. I for one will be out there campaigning in the Oswestry area. I hope many more will join me.

Pygmy Shrew

Things do indeed move on Keith, its a digital world and we have to move with the times. But they still use pencils in ballot stations and guess whose name my X is'nt going next to. Stop wrecking Shropshire!.


Cllr Barrow-

“If there is a choice between social services or libraries then we would have no choice but to retain social services.”

You seem to be forgetting that you have already made massive cuts to 'social' services- meals on wheels, buses, schools, concessions for people on benefits or with disabilities who want to take evening classes etc etc etc. You have closed the Grange Day Centre and are proposing to sell off care homes and cut our Early Years provision- how is that retaining social services? Oh, and you've already cut libraries too, unless the mobile library service, and Shrewsbury's reference library don't count. And hasn't the budget for the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre just been slashed? You and your cabinet don't seem to value any of our essential services and you are failing to protect the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the cuts you are making. Your comment about your Kindle is very telling- if you don't personally need or use things then you don't seem to think they matter.


There are plenty of places you can go to get technology but only one place you can go to borrow books. A minister from the previous government said that She dreamt of the day when you could go into a library and not even realise it was a library. What nonsense! Books are more popular than ever.


Library services have already been cut in Shropshire : fact.

(a) the excellent reference library has been closed. Putting a tiny fraction of its resources into the main library does not constitute a 'merger'.

(b) the outstanding music and drama library that used to fill a whole schoolroom in Shrewsbury library is now reduced to a couple of shelves. The standard repertoire for all the main instruments could once be found on its shelves, now there is next to nothing.

Being able to use a computer for an hour in a library is not the same as being able to take a book home to study for three weeks. Please, stop replacing books with computers!

And as for the oft quoted 'frontline services will not be cut', what is a library if not frontline? And why does mr barrow find it acceptable to cut services to the elderly, disabled, ill and very young? For example, our daughter's preschool has had to put its fees up because the council is charging for special needs advice that has always been free in the past.

Katherine de Gama

I only read on a a laptop or a kindle because of an eyesight problem. However, so much material is not available in electronic format so let's hope our libraries survive. There is nothing like a paper copy, read by many others.


Innovation = privatisation

Tories dont rent books for free, they buy them or sell them for profit, the very concept of a library is offensive to tory ideology, giving things to poor people for free, disgusting, let them eat cake instead why cant they buy books like I have to, anyway 'the poor' can barely read so whats the point


It's in the interest of the Tories to keep people uneducated.

That way, people will keep reading The Sun and The Daily Mail and will continue voting Tory.


Can I suggest everyone visits the brand new Wellington Library with it's hi-tec computers, free Wi Fi,interesting engraved photos, soft seating, cafe, and great local history resource. That's the future of libraries!


If it provides what you need, great, but that isn't the case for most people so don't make assumptions about what the rest of us should be grateful to have.

Libraries in Telford & Wrekin are no longer libraries. Soft seating, cafe, engraved photos, WiFi, computers.......but virtually no books.

I used to use Telford central library until it turned into the kind of place you describe and I could no longer get the information I needed because it exists only in books....and they were gone.....and no I'm not "out of touch", "old fashioned", "un-technical" etc etc.


over 30,000 real books in Wellington library as well as everything else - what more do you want for 'free'?

bob dobbs

No Books? are you kidding? The new Wellington library is crammed full of books and lets not forget T&W spread their books over 10 locations (including Mobile).