Residents’ survey will help shape the future of library services

Changes proposed to existing library services in the city are the subject of a widespread consultation with residents, starting this week.

The council is looking at new ways of keeping and improving services against a climate of reduced funding for the local authority. Resources will reduce across the council by about a third, but libraries are looking at ways of retaining all 14 services in the city. Under current plans, none would close and some would be delivered differently with the potential of bringing services together.

Proposals are based on a detailed review of library services carried out with library users and the wider public. They include opening up access to libraries seven days a week through the Libraries Extra initiative with a mix of staffed and unstaffed days which would increase library opening hours from 362 to 592 per week.

There are proposals to increase libraries use by local schools, community groups and partner organisations to provide activities and resources not previously available to people in their local library.

Residents will be asked their views on combining Hove Library with Hove Museum to create a new Community Cultural Centre for Hove in an extended building; moving Hollingbury Library in with the Children’s Centre and sharing services at Westdene which would provide an extra classroom for the primary school.

The wide ranging consultation is also asking people to say how the council could improve digital access, target services to individual groups and involve volunteers. The home delivery service could be expanded, with volunteers providing a more individual service to people in residential accommodation and sheltered housing.

You can submit views online or complete a paper version at your local library.

Councillor Alan Robins, lead member for libraries and culture, said: “Nothing has been decided and we want as many people as possible to take part and give us their views on the best way of providing comprehensive, efficient and modern services.

“This is all about the libraries’ service, rather than the buildings from which they are delivered. Hove Library, for instance, was designed for residents in 1908 when children were not allowed in libraries and newspapers were tied to the desks and had to be read standing up. Some older buildings actually make it more difficult to provide a 21st century service and we want to make sure we are meeting the needs of all our residents with the best services we can provide.”

Residents will also have the opportunity to comment on plans for buildings such as the Hove Museum extension when they are submitted for planning permission.

Library services have to save £1.34 million over the next four years. The council as a whole has to save around £70 million.

Consultation runs to 16 February 2016 and the results and final proposals from the Libraries Plan will go before the council meeting in March.


Note to editors: Read Brighton & Hove’s Libraries review

More information about Libraries Extra: