Libraries review - autumn 2017

Last year, we started the first phase of 'Let's Talk Libraries' - a full review of the services that are offered by our libraries.

This was just the beginning of our long term plans to modernise Barnsley libraries and create a more dynamic and adaptable service to better meet the changing needs of our residents.

We know that more people are visiting our libraries, but they're borrowing less books; we also know that there's more demand for digital and online services, for internet access, and for flexible opening hours. That's why it's so important that our library service evolves to keep pace with people's needs.

Our libraries: plans for the future

  • As an extension of the conversations we had last year, we want to understand more fully how we can do things differently.
  • In response to changing customer needs and reducing budgets, we want to work with local communities to create a modernised library service, with the new central library at its heart.
  • By 2020, we’ll have less money to spend.. We’ll need to save £872k on customer services, including a saving of £165k specifically on library services.
  • As a result, we’ll need to change the way we run libraries; we’ll need to look at different business models and ask our residents and partners for their views.
  • We don’t plan to close any libraries – we’re looking at the needs of each area to create a service that works for everyone.

What we know so far

  • Each area of Barnsley has its own needs; we need to create a library service to meet these needs.
  • People are using traditional library services less and less.
  • More people are going online; using libraries as meeting places, and for activities.
  • Only 7% of people living in Barnsley borrow items from libraries.
  • The model must meet the statutory requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
  • There are a range of community buildings in different areas which potentially create an opportunity to do things differently – we need to look at sharing facilities so we can make the best use of all our resources

Criteria we'll consider in designing the new model

Our proposals will be based on a range of criteria, which may include:

  • library usage
  • patterns of demand
  • affordability and value
  • building implications, such as condition, location and accessibility
  • ability to collaborate with other organisations, for example, integrated with other organisations
  • travel time for users and geographic coverage
  • meeting community need
  • how long and how complex it will be to deliver the changes

Tell us what you think

You can tell us whether you think we're using the right criteria to form our proposals using the questionnaire below.

What happens next

  • We’ll talk directly with community groups and partners in each area to design the future model.
  • This period of engagement will take place from October 2017 to January 2018.
  • We’ll review the feedback and develop proposals for a new service by summer 2018.
  • There’ll be a public consultation before we make any decisions.
  • Any changes will come into effect in 2019.

Frequently asked questions

What is the libraries review?

We’re asking for people’s feedback to help shape the future of Barnsley’s library services. We’re reviewing library services with the long term aim of creating a more modern, dynamic, efficient and adaptable service that better meets the needs of our current and future users.

What are the timescales?

An initial six week period of engagement took place in Autumn 2016.  This second period of engagement will run from October 2017 to January 2018 and we will be talking to community groups and partners in each area to design the future model and understand local needs. 

How can people have their say?

People can find a key summary at www.barnsley.gov.uk/LetsTalkLibraries  and can also complete a feedback form if they have any comments.

We will also monitor comments made on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #LetsTalkLibraries

What will happen to all the feedback?

All the comments and feedback received will be assessed in full and used to develop proposals about the future shape of libraries. The proposals will then be published and there will be a 12 week consultation period where people can feed back on the proposals.

How long will it take for any changes to take place?

We’re planning ahead for the coming years so any changes would be likely to come into effect from 2019 onwards. We’ll keep people informed as we go through the process.

What is the council’s budget for library services and what will future budgets be?

We want to try to save £165k by 2020 through the review of library services. This is a figure that will allow us to keep a comprehensive and modern library service that meets people’s changing demands and takes advantage of new technology.

Does this mean you’ll be closing libraries?

We don’t plan to close any libraries – we’re looking at the needs of each area to create a service that works for everyone.  We’ve faced budget cuts since 2010 and we’ve kept every one of our libraries open. We care about our libraries and we know you do too. We’re even creating a new library building in the town centre as part of our ambitious redevelopment plans.

We have a statutory responsibility to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for local people, and we will always do that. But, due to people’s changing demands, advancing technology and reducing budgets, there is a need for change in the way we deliver library services in the coming years.

Potential ideas for change could be more services available online, more flexible opening hours using electronic access technology, library buildings hosting other public services and community groups helping to run local libraries.

Is this because the new central library is taking all the library money? Will you be closing local libraries to pay for the new one?

No. Absolutely not. The development of the new central library will go ahead as planned, leading the way for the future of Barnsley’s libraries. No budget has been taken from libraries across the borough to fund the new library development, and this review is completely separate to the new town centre development. 

I don’t use the library; can I still have my say?

Yes of course. Please go to www.barnsley.gov.uk/LetsTalkLibraries  and leave your comments on the available form.

Why isn’t the consultation longer?

This is an engagement period. There will be a further three month consultation on the proposals in Summer 2018.

What will happen to the Home Library Service?

The Home Library Service is important for people who are unable to visit a library and do not have any help to do so. The Home Library Service is available for people who need help to live independently. We welcome opportunities to discuss how we can ensure this service meets the needs of current and future users as part of the engagement.

Have you done any work already looking at people’s needs? 

We have identified a possible range of criteria to build our new model against, but we would like to engage further with local communities to ensure we meet your needs for your local library service in the future.

To make sure that we are making well informed decisions, and that we are following Government guidance on how we will continue to gather together a wide range of information about the libraries and the communities they serve. This is called the Needs Assessment.

How will you make sure you’re meeting the needs of all people, including those with additional needs or from diverse groups?

We need to make sure we’re giving everybody the chance to have their say, and that we’re considering the varied needs of all sections of the community when developing our proposals.

To help us do this we’ve carried out an initial Equalities Impact Assessment, which helps us to think about how different groups might be affected by any changes.

We will continue to engage with Barnsley’s wide range of equalities groups and forums to make sure we’re meeting as wide a range of people as possible.

If you have any thoughts about how we can make the service at our Libraries more accessible and inclusive to everyone then please let us know.

Where can I find out more?

The latest information will always be published first on Let's Talk Libraries.

What if I need to speak to someone?

If you need to speak to somebody, you can call 01226 773232.