Shropshire Council's Library Strategy goes to cabinet

Reporter:

Lucy Wain

 

Ellesmere and Gobowen libraries have been given more time to become self-funded services.

Shropshire Council received over 700 responses to a public consultation over the county’s libraries which stated that services that are set to become self-funded needed more time to do so.

The new strategy, which is taken to cabinet next week, sees a three tier system which incorporates the 21 libraries across Shropshire and places them in according of funding.

Oswestry Library is in the top tier, which means it will be funded and staffed by Shropshire Council and is used as a multifunctional space. Ellesmere Library is in tier two, which means it is staffed by volunteers and has support from a professional librarian services, and Gobowen Library is in tier three, meaning flexible opening hours and run by volunteers.

Originally the strategy stated that funding to tier two libraries would be tapered over three years until it become self-funded, and those in tier three had only one year to become self-funded.

However the public consultation has enforced a change in the amount of time the two-tier libraries will have to become self-funded, with tier two increasing to five years and tier three increasing to three.

Shropshire Councillor Lezley Picton, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “We were really pleased with the responses, they were very constructive and we have really listened to the comments.”

“”We’ve extended the amount of time libraries have to become funded because the comments from the public showed that it was not enough time to become fully self-funded.”

Mobile libraries run by Shropshire Council has reduced from four to three, which will now be calling at 281 stops as opposed to the previous 277 which was first suggested in the strategy.

“The consultation allowed us to see which stops were being used and which weren’t, so although we’ve decreased from 354 which we have currently, it’s an improvement on our first strategy draft,” continued Cllr Picton.

Over the past three years, over £1 million has been saved through libraries. Shropshire Council have a budget of £2.2m for libraries which they want to see going towards the regeneration of libraries by making them multifunctional.

George Candler, director of place and enterprise, said: “We can safely say that there will be no redundancies and no libraries closing.

“We want to thank Town and Parish Councils for their help throughout the consultation. We have been able to work with communities to keep services going, which will benefit both the community and its volunteers and us as Council.”

The strategy is due to go to cabinet next week.

 

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