National conference speech sets out vision for libraries

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council.

Surrey County Council Leader David Hodge today <WED JUNE 27> set out his vision for the future of libraries at one of the biggest political events of the year.

He was asked to give a speech at the Local Government Association’s annual conference, which was attended by members of the Government, MPs, councillors, police chiefs and business leaders, among others.

Mr Hodge used the national platform to described Surrey’s plans for community-partnered libraries, in which residents could help the council run its most underused branches, helping to unlock their potential.

During his speech to delegates, Mr Hodge said: “I am a passionate believer in public libraries being available to all. I also strongly believe that councils must use their assets wisely for the long term benefit of their communities.

“Despite the huge financial challenges facing all of us in local government. I believe it is our responsibility to look beyond buildings that house libraries. Let’s open our eyes. Let’s think differently about our libraries while safeguarding an important service for our residents’ future.”

Mr Hodge added: “But of course community-partnered libraries are only part of the story. Our core libraries network is also vitally important. That’s why we invested a lot of money in new and refurbished libraries in Dorking and Woking.

“These heavily used libraries are about more than just the building. I think they should be the centre of their communities. Literally in fact in the centre of towns, nearby the local shops, the local post office, and local amenities, close to transport links. A real community space used for a variety of things, from surfing the internet to holding community meetings.”

Last week Surrey County Council announced it had introduced an online app and free wi-fi in all its libraries. Surrey’s online library is now used more than three million times a year.

Click here for a full copy of Mr Hodge’s speech.

Media requiring further information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at


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