County Council to decide on future of Hampshire's smallest libraries
Thursday, 28 June 2012
The future of Hampshire's smallest libraries will be discussed when library services in Stanmore, Winchester and North Baddesley are considered by Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture and Recreation on 6 July 2012.
At his upcoming Decision Day, Councillor Keith Chapman will consider proposals that would safeguard the provision of library services in the two areas, despite their libraries being the smallest and least-used in Hampshire, and no longer viable.
The plans follow a review of Hampshire's smallest libraries, carried out last Autumn as part of a wider review of library opening times across the county, in a bid to save £450,000 in 2012/13 following budget cuts from lower levels of Government funding.
Stanmore was found to have an average of only 106 borrowers per month, with a cost to the Library Service of around £15 per visit. In addition, book issues from the library have almost halved over the last five years, while only 3% of people who live in Stanmore actually borrow from the library as it is within two miles of the Winchester Discovery Centre. North Baddesley has an average of just 163 borrowers a month, and a third fewer book issues now, compared to five years ago.
Working with the local community
It is now proposed that Stanmore library is closed, but a library service continues to be provided from the nearby Carroll Centre which is a well-used community building in the middle of Stanmore. Open five and a half days a week, the Centre already offers many activities including after school and holiday clubs, a children's centre and a wide variety of courses for adults and children including IT. Moving the library to the Carroll Centre would bring the library to the attention of many more people, most of whom are not current library customers. Hampshire Library Service would continue to provide the books and resources, including a self-service kiosk so people can issue and return books themselves. The library itself would be managed by The Carroll Centre.
In North Baddesley meanwhile, discussions will go ahead to explore the possibility of transferring the currently under-used library to the Parish Council. It is proposed that unless an agreement is reached with the Parish Council by the end of October, the current library building would be closed at the end of March 2013, and replaced with a mobile library service.
Safeguarding Library Services for the future
Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman, said:
"It's important we continue to explore innovative new ways of working that allow us to keep delivering quality services for local people, while making the best use of our resources to deliver value for money for taxpayers. We recently brought a mobile library vehicle to North Baddesley for a day for local residents and library customers to look round. The feedback was generally positive and people were surprised by the size of the vehicle and the number of books it carried. Mobile libraries offer a variety of regularly updated books and could be a great way to ensure the local community continues to have access to library services in future, but first, we want to work with the Parish Council to explore whether they could continue to run the library from its current building.
"Plans for The Carroll Centre meanwhile, have also been well-received by residents and over 100 people attended a recent Open Day event at the Centre where we explained our proposals. As an already thriving hub for community activity in Stanmore, the Centre offers an excellent opportunity to reach even more people and show them the range of additional services our libraries have on offer, beyond simply lending books. We are working with Winchester City Council and The Carroll Centre on this exciting initiative and we are hoping that the library could move to the Centre in early 2013."