Plans for community libraries agreed
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet today agreed plans to allow communities to take over the running of their local libraries.
The initiative is part of the county council’s aim to keep all 52 of its libraries open despite the fact other local authorities are closing branches across the country due to financial constraints.
Volunteers will be able to take over the day to day running of 10 libraries* while the county council continues to provide everything else including the building, stock, computer equipment, as well as free Wi-Fi in all libraries.
These 10 branches account for just 7% of library visits countywide. They were ranked lowest in a league table of libraries as part of a public value review. A recent audit of these calculations confirmed their positions in the table**.
Denise Saliagopoulos, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “Today’s decision means we are a step closer to fulfilling our aim of keeping all 52 of Surrey’s libraries open, while focusing resources and making best use of new technologies such as e-books.
“We’ve been greatly encouraged by the response we’ve had to the plans to give people the freedom to tailor their local library to meet local needs.”
The county council will continue to support community-run libraries. For example, where volunteers want to extend opening hours the county council will cover additional running costs such as utilities. Self service desks will also be provided as well as training for volunteers.
The council has held a series of talks with users of all 10 libraries offered for community partnership. Ideas people have suggested to meet local needs include tailoring opening times to meet the commuter rush and providing a parcel collection service for people at work during the day.
The Cabinet today agreed that the 10 pilot community-run libraries operate for the financial year 2012-13 so their success can be assessed. Only then will the council consider extending the offer to nine more which are Ash, Caterham Hill, Frimley Green, Hersham, Horsley, Knaphill, Lightwater, Shepperton and West Byfleet.
The 33 remaining branches currently account for 85% of the county’s libraries service which Surrey County Council will continue to run as a core service.
Notes to editors
* The 10 libraries being offered for communities to run were identified following an assessment of various factors including use, cost and proximity to another library.
The 10 libraries are: Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, Warlingham.
** Plans for an 11th library, Molesey, to be run by the community were withdrawn because it is in a key location for Surrey residents.