People in Powys are to be asked for their views on the future of the library service in the county.
Powys County Council is reviewing its library provision as it works to manage a significant reduction in its budget. Over the next three years, the council will need to find around £40m in savings and the council’s Leader has recently warned that the way services are delivered will have to change.
The council has published its consultation document setting out the challenges facing the library service and has suggested three possible ways of managing the service with reduced funding. The consultation period will close on Friday 19th September, 2014.
Powys people are being asked for their views on three options:
- A) Reducing the opening hours of all libraries by 20%, co-locating more services in the buildings and changing the mobile library service to a four weekly service (currently a two-weekly service). This is the option the council’s Cabinet currently favours but will review this once the consultation period has finished;
- B) Closing up to 11 libraries, increasing the mobile library service provision and introducing a service for people who are not able to travel. Where libraries closed, the council would also look to see if there are any other facilities in the town which could house a library item drop off point;
- C) Closing up to five libraries, discontinuing the mobile library service and introducing a service for people who are not able to travel. Where libraries closed, the council would also look to see if there are any other facilities in the town which could house a library item drop off point.
Cllr Graham Brown, Cabinet Member for libraries: “Our library service needs to find savings of £554,000 on a budget which currently stands at £1,900,000 so we are faced with some extremely difficult decisions which none of us are taking lightly.
“The Cabinet currently favours option A, which would mean that all libraries would remain open. However, before we make any decisions, we want to hear the views of the people of Powys on all of the options.
“Let us know which of those three options you think would be the best, bearing in mind that continuing as we are is no longer an option.”
The consultation document, a summary and questionnaire are all available online via www.powys.gov.uk/haveyoursay while people who do not have internet access can pick up a questionnaire and summary document at their local library from Friday 11th July as well as read a copy of the full consultation document.
“If people do have internet access we would really appreciate it if they could complete the online survey rather than the paper one as this saves us money in administration and printing costs. However, we realise that this is not suitable for everyone and paper versions will be available in our libraries,” added Cllr Brown.
In 2012/13, the library service loaned out 700.000 items (books, DVDs and audio books) and provided over 65,000 hours of computer use to library members. There are currently 17 council-run libraries and one (in Montgomery) which is run by volunteers. In recent years, the council has also offered access to a wider range of council services (such as paying council bills by credit/debit card) from libraries under its Library+ programme.
The council also runs four mobile libraries. These are based in Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown and Welshpool.