20/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 17:08

Plan to create libraries of the future

Category: England

Published: 6th Aug 2011 01:41:28

Libraries in England could share their premises with health centres and police surgeries in future under new plans.

The proposals are designed to ensure the survival of library services facing closure amid spending cuts.

They have been published by the Local Government Association and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Its report, following a pilot schemes involving 36 councils, also suggests libraries could seek private partnerships to ensure funding.

Local authority cuts mean that around 400 libraries are threatened with closure.

The report called Future Libraries: Change, options and how to get there looks at ways to deliver modern library services in innovative and creative ways that will also save money.

Councillor Chris White, Chair of the Local Government Association's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: "By breaking down the barriers of tradition, councils are bringing libraries into the 21st century and meeting the needs of a new generation of library users.

"The best libraries are at the heart of councils' approaches to everything from lifelong learning to wellbeing, job seeking, volunteering, education and encouraging more people to get online."

The report proposes running libraries in partnership with the private sector, charities or other councils and extending their reach by integrating them with community facilities such as churches and by providing health centres and police surgeries on site.

It also suggests that services such as offices and mobile libraries could be shared with neighbouring local authorities and readers given the chance to play a more active role in running services themselves.

But the report adds it is "important to track implementation in these projects if we are to confirm that the proposals work and actually improve efficiency and effectiveness and it could be a number of years before a final judgement can be made on this".

Last year's Future Libraries Programme pilot scheme saw Bradford City Council introduce self-service book borrowing points in shops; Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils draw up plans to combine services, and Suffolk County Council look to recruit members of the community to boards of governors for its libraries.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Across England, councillors and managers are working to develop plans that will meet their community's changing needs while balancing budget pressures.

"The Future Libraries Programme has shone a spotlight on excellent examples of innovation and creative partnership working. It will be a hugely useful resource, inspiring local authorities to emulate the best ideas to provide a first rate library service."

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BBC News, 2011. Plan to create libraries of the future [Online] (Updated 6th Aug 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/175790/Plan-to-create-libraries-of-the-future [Accessed 20th Aug 2014]

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