'Standing still is not an option': Council to discuss future-proofing library strategy

The future of a library service is up for debate at a council cabinet meeting next week.

Shrewsbury Library is one of the council's 21 static libraries
Shrewsbury Library is one of the council's 21 static libraries

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve a fresh approach to the way the council's libraries are run and the services they provide.

The Shropshire Library Strategy is proposing changes to enhance the way libraries deliver services, aiming to ensure every one of the council's 21 static libraries, one prison library and three mobile libraries are meeting the needs of their local communities.

The strategy follows a consultation, which identified the need for services in rural areas, a need to support people and families on low income, and the importance of libraries to children and families.

The report warns that change is necessary to align with public need, saying: "The way people use libraries, and their expectations of public services, are changing. Financial, technological, and demographic challenges are increasing. Standing still is therefore not an option for library services."

Rob Gittins, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for culture and digital said: "Put simply, our vision is for library services in Shropshire to be at the heart of our communities making connections to enhance and improve people’s lives.

"We are making it our mission to provide physical and digital library services and spaces that inspire people’s learning, imagination and discovery, to connect and fulfil an individual’s potential, health and wellbeing, and articulate the value of library services to our communities.”

The report suggests income could be generated for the service through partnerships with outside services, external funding and venue hire.

The strategy identifies potential savings of over £200k, with an aim of protecting access to libraries and opening hours through "a more joined-up approach to marketing, income generation, venue and contract management and ICT."

There is no suggestion in the report of staff cuts, or library closures.

Speaking earlier this week she said: "What residents might have seen from other authorities, the closing of leisure centres, closing of libraries, in a rural county like Shropshire it is so important we retain those services in local areas.

"Residents may see a change in services being delivered but not removed."

The full report, which will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, December 14, is available to view at bit.ly/3XZEaPz.

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