Thursday, 3 February 2011

Warwickshire Libraries: 16 out of 34 could be closed - here's the map

With Kenilworth Library opening it's doors again on 7 February 2011 - it's good very good news that Kenilworth even has a library with the news today that Warwickshire CC are considering closing 16 out of their 34 libraries. WCC have released Facing the challenge on Libraries (see base of this article for full press release or download WCC Facing the challenge document) this morning following a BBC report at 6.30pm last night. Trying to remain balanced about it all, WCC say they want to consult with residents between March and June this year - with final decisions made July 2011.

Kenilworth is on the list as a Library that may have a reduction in it's opening hours. Kenilworth Library is open 51 hours - proposals may see this cut to 35 hours a week. So, where would you cut the 16 hours? Maybe, the Kenilworth People need to step in and use The Big Society to do the opposite and keep the library open up to 70 hours a week? wiK reported last year (Dec 2010) that some libraries have held pop concerts (Lancaster Library - Diana Vickers), introduced a Cafe (with Starbucks Coffee) at Ruislip Manor Library (in London)  to raise funds to keep their library open. And of course, everyone should now see BBC Panorama, The Cuts - Can you Fight Back?

Here is a map of all the 34 Warwickshire Libraries with RED markers = Closure. GREEN cut to 50hrs YELLOW = cut to 35hrs BLUE = cut to 20hrs. Is there a pattern? Please leave a comment or suggestion below this page - what are your views? New Media (like this) is a conversation.

View Warwickshire Libraries Possible Closures 2011 in a larger map

Facing the challenge on libraries



Thursday 3rd February, 2011

Reading books
"
We are reviewing the network of libraries and opening times.
"
Cllr Colin Hayfield
Public sector bodies throughout the country are having to deal with the national debt. Over the next three years Warwickshire County Council will have to reduce its budget by up to £60 million across all of its services.

The pace and magnitude of the financial challenge requires large scale reform and this will mean difficult decisions across services including the Libraries and Information Service which must cut £2 million from its £7.4 million budget.

Cllr Colin Hayfield, Portfolio-holder for Customers, Workforce and Partnerships, said: “We are reviewing the network of libraries and opening times, and we propose to consult with residents on the entire service between March and June this year. Final decisions will be made only after this process and we expect to have further details in July.”

Cllr Colin Hayfield said the county’s library service had been undergoing change for some time, to reflect the changing way people access information, books and its services.

“As part of the transformation 15 libraries have received makeovers, and this work has seen the introduction of self-service equipment, alterations to some for on-site children’s centres, new one-stop-shops in five libraries, an iPod-style audiobook pilot, the free e-book service, and the launch of Books on Prescription in conjunction with NHS Warwickshire.

“The reality of reductions in funding that the council is facing means we cannot afford to sustain the library network in its current form,” he said. “A review of library support, technical and management costs is being undertaken and we expect this will deliver around half of the savings. However we have been cutting these kinds of backroom costs every year for several years and now we cannot avoid the need to look at libraries themselves.

He added: “Financial pressures are an undeniable factor as the library service must reduce its annual operating costs by £2 million over the next three financial years.

“It is a stark fact that 90 per cent of our library visitors use only half of our libraries.

Cllr Colin Hayfield, said: “We must question the practicalities and public value of trying to maintain 34 separate library buildings, when integrating and co-locating some libraries with other local services would be more cost-effective and help improve service delivery to the public.

“A review has been carried out of all 34 libraries and careful consideration has been given to a number of factors including the number of visits and issues per hour, nearest library and existing or potential partnership links.

“The following 16 Library buildings have been identified as being no longer sustainable in their current form:

Baddesley
Harbury
Bedworth Heath
Hartshill
Bidford on Avon
Henley in Arden
Binley Woods
Keresley
Bulkington
Kineton
Camp Hill
Kingsbury
Dordon
Studley
Dunchurch
Water Orton

“The aim would be to look at alternative ways of providing our service to these customers and the Council is open to looking at how this could be done with local communities.

“In addition there will also be a need to reduce the opening hours in the remaining libraries. The precise hours and days of opening will be discussed with local communities as part of the proposed consultation process for these changes. The initial proposals are:

Proposed reductions/change to opening hours:

Libraries
Average hours open
Nuneaton, Rugby and Leamington,
Up to 50 hours a week
Alcester, Atherstone, Bedworth, Kenilworth, Polesworth, Southam, Stratford, Warwick, Up to 35 hours a week
Coleshill, Lillington, Shipston, Stockingford, Wellesbourne, Whitnash, Wolston Up to 20 hours a week

Cllr Colin Hayfield concluded: “What we will need to know now is what people think of these proposals. We need to make the savings, and something must change. We aim to issue full information and begin a consultation process from March to June in which we shall seek everyone’s views on the changes, and we pledge to take these into account before any final decisions are made.

“As part of the decision making process, discussions with communities will look at a range of options for the provision of a library service for the community. For example, through consultation communities may express an interest in providing a volunteer-run service. Communities would need to come forward with a robust business case which we will explore with them.”

A report on the Library and Information Service will be considered by Overview & Scrutiny Councillors on 1st March and then will go to Cabinet on 17th March for consideration.

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