Buzz not the hush for Rotherham's libraries

Published Thursday, 1st September 2016

Libraries in Rotherham will be more efficient and effective under plans proposed by the Council, which are focussed on making them more in tune with what the public wants.

As times are changing the needs of people using the libraries are also changing and now Rotherham Council wants to make sure the services provided are the ones which give the best and most appropriate services that people want, despite budget cuts.

Recent consultation has shown the public would like good quality, efficient, local libraries which provide access to an increasing range of services.

And now the Council has come up with a range of options to allow this to happen, which will also provide value for money.

This includes changes to some of the services provided, but all 15 borough libraries will still be maintained despite Government cuts to the Council's budget.

Cllr Taiba Yasseen, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working and Cultural Services for Rotherham Council said: "Our aspiration is for libraries to evolve as community hubs and use their capacity to inspire children and young people. Our libraries are no longer about the hush but about the buzz we want to create in communities.

"Of course we are also operating in a difficult financial climate and therefore some services may have to change, but we are committed to the vast majority of residents being able to access a library service within two miles of their home.

"People have told us through our consultation that they want good quality, efficient, local libraries which provide access to an increasing range of services.

"However, this can't be done without any changes to the current services which we provide. Coupled with this is the fact that the numbers of people who visit libraries and borrow books are reducing, so we do need to think about how we change things for the better.

"We believe libraries are the backbone of our communities and there is no doubt they help in terms of education. We need to make sure we have library services that are fit for the long term and generations to come."

As part of the consultation the Council asked people to comment on their plans to transform library services over the next four years.

The plans focus on how Libraries and Customer Services can work differently, to reduce costs. This includes libraries helping to inspire Rotherham's children, young people and their families to enjoy reading and to develop their knowledge and skills.

Other plans include library buildings being recognised community hubs, offering welcoming spaces and providing access to modern digital technology.

Under the proposals, all 15 community libraries will remain and, in partnership with volunteers and community groups, will be developed into centres where people can access many services and extra activities.

The strategy also proposes new ways of working, including more use of self service facilities within Libraries and Customer Service Centres, withdrawal of the Mobile Library service in some areas and changes to the Book Link service.

Rotherham Council has been hit with budget cuts of £117m over the last five years from central Government, and is facing having to make further cuts this year to the tune of £21m.

The priority is to protect frontline services while still investing in children's services, the local environment and supporting the local economy.

Council leaders are expected to agree to the changes to the service at a Cabinet meeting on September 12.

See details of the 12 September Cabinet meeting