Cabinet members have today approved the go ahead for a twelve weeks public consultation to start this month

Let’s Talk Libraries consultation will open on Thursday 21 June, calling on communities to give their feedback to help shape the future of Barnsley’s library services.

Our aim is to create a more modern, dynamic, efficient and adaptable service that better meets the needs of current and future users.

This next phase of consultation will provide an opportunity for members of the public to have their say on the proposed changes to the library service, which include revised opening hours and feedback on our draft library strategy. The draft strategy reflects our ambition and commitment to continue to unlock the huge potential that library services have to impact positively on individuals’ lives while at the same time delivering local priorities.

These proposals have been developed following research from an assessment of local needs, library performance and feedback from our initial engagement with the public about our Library Service which started in 2016 with Let’s Talk Libraries. This was followed by a further period of engagement in October 2017 whereby community groups were encouraged to share their ideas.

Overall, more than 2,000 responses were received and this helped us to build a picture of how people are using libraries. The information we gathered and other data collected tells us that the public continue to value the library service and the staff that support them and that visits to our libraries are on the increase as people access the breadth of activities going on across the Libraries.

What we also know is that visits to our libraries have increased by 14% as people are using our libraries for meeting places and activities; however people are borrowing fewer books - only 7% of people as more people access services online.

We need to spend £872,000 less on Customer Services by 2020, of which £165,000 savings would come from the Library Service Review. We aren’t closing any of our libraries but we need to change the way we run libraries so that they meet current needs as well as provide a good value service.

The development of the new Library@TheLightbox will lead the way for the future of Barnsley’s libraries. Offering almost double the space for IT facilities, it will meet the needs of our new generation of technology-savvy learners and be a fantastic asset for Barnsley. It will also offer excellent opportunities for functions and events. No budget has been taken from libraries across the borough to fund the new library development.  

Cllr Jenny Platts, Cabinet spokesperson for communities, said: “Over the last few years, we have been listening to the feedback given by our communities to help shape the future of our library services.

It’s now important for people to tell us what they think of these proposals to ensure Barnsley’s library service evolves to meet these changing needs and we continue to provide the best possible library service to residents.

“We’ll keep people informed as we go through the process and any changes would be likely to come into effect from 2019 onwards.

“We urge people to share their views on this by taking part in the survey which is available at barnsley.gov.uk/letstalklibraries.”

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