Some key factors informing the Strategy-
- Hampshire’s LIS is one of the largest library services in the country with a budget of £19m and nearly 800 staff.
- Nearly 7m people came through the doors in 2007/08.
- In common with trends across the country, visits and issues in Hampshire’s libraries have declined over the past 5 years.
- Hampshire’s Discovery Centre programme has been developed to transform libraries by providing a wider variety of services in one place and making them available for longer hours and to more people. Visits and issues have increased at the two Discovery Centres.
- Significant capital investment has taken place over the last six years with a number of refurbishments, two new libraries and two Discovery Centres.
- The revenue budget is coming under increasing pressure and the resultant shortfall is being met mainly from the Book Fund.
- There is strong support for LIS from Hampshire County Council’s councillors and senior officers.
Challenges ahead to 2026 which need to be taken account of include -
- Increase in the proportion of older people and fewer people of working age
- Significant house building in various parts of the county
- The effects of climate change and environmental issues
- Technological changes
However we must never lose sight of the core values of the LIS, namely
- Quality of service
- Equality of access
Taking all these factors into account our vision for LIS is
“A creative service at the heart of Hampshire communities which prides itself on meeting their evolving needs for reading, information, learning and enjoyment.”
The Next Five Years
Our immediate focus will be on establishing a strong and sustainable basis on which we can build and develop our services, allowing us to respond flexibly and rapidly to the needs of the people of Hampshire.
We have identified the following areas of work to concentrate on now:-
- Developing knowledge and understanding of our existing and potential user base to improve communication with our users and to understand their needs. This will enable us to anticipate trends and respond accordingly. Work started on this project in 2008 and is ongoing.
- Involving local communities and other interested parties in the planning and management of library services. We have already established Community Panels in five libraries and we will review their success and learn from them. This work is ongoing.
- Establishing partnerships and collaborations with other parts of Hampshire County Council and external organisations, within existing resources
- Developing new services and income generation activities. A project has been set up to identify and assess prospects for LIS to maximise income generation.
- Providing capital investment in buildings and technology. We are currently developing a business case for investment in Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) across all our libraries to provide self-service, release staff time to provide customer support and to improve stock management. The business case will go forward to the Leader of the County Council for consideration in 2010.
- In addition a project has been set up to develop a strategy to maximise the opportunities to develop e-resources to improve and modernise our service.
- Undertaking an audit of all our existing libraries and library services to identify best practice and opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness.
Three projects have been set up. The first is to establish a clear picture of current library provision to inform future plans for service delivery. The second project will identify how LIS can achieve the greatest return from its fleet of mobiles and vans. The third project will establish a clear picture of the current support and development services (Headquarters, School Library Service) to inform future planning.
- Providing regular performance information to individual libraries for local decision making. Work started on budget devolution and performance management information in 2008 and is ongoing.
- Training and developing staff to enable them to respond to changes in roles and responsibilities resulting from our developing services.
- Taking the lead on the development of library services. We are beginning to do this by setting up ‘club’ with some other large library services to compare performance of our different libraries. In February 2009 we organised a major conference for the Leaders and senior politicians from other local authorities.
In the future our libraries will meet the needs of the communities of Hampshire, offering a wide range of innovative opportunities for individuals to develop their skills, access the information that they need and gain enjoyment from reading.
We will achieve this through listening to our customers and communities, developing flexible and effective mechanisms to meet their evolving needs with a skilled and motivated LIS team.
We will ensure a long-term and sustainable future by managing our resources efficiently and effectively, maximising our spend in libraries and the service they offer.