Feedback from a public consultation into the future of Worcestershire’s libraries will be discussed by the County Council’s Cabinet on July 11.
The consultation, which ran from October 2018 to February 2019, was launched to find out what the public thought about initial suggestions for changes to Worcestershire libraries and to request their ideas on the future of libraries.
There were 1,947 responses to the survey in total and over 800 residents attended consultation meetings in libraries.
Ideas given in the consultation included opening coffee shops in libraries, sharing library buildings or space within those buildings with other community organisations to generate further income and charging for some library services.
Almost half of the respondents suggested that they would be willing to use libraries during unstaffed hours and 167 people said they would be interested in volunteering to help run their local library.
While consultation results were being analysed, council officers opened up their library transformation plans for challenge from the Local Government Association and have met with library policy advisors from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
A strong recommendation arising from these discussions is to present transformation proposals for Worcestershire libraries in the context of a library strategy that defines a medium and long term vision for the service.
A new Library Strategy will be produced, subject to Cabinet approval on 11 July 2019, that sets out ambitions for Worcestershire libraries over the next five to ten years and identifies approaches for future-proofing the service over that period.
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “The development of a library strategy for Worcestershire presents a fantastic opportunity to further engage residents, partners and staff in designing the future of the library service in Worcestershire to make sure that it meets community needs both in the short and longer term.”
The strategy will link libraries more closely to the Council's corporate strategy, reflect local need as identified in the Libraries' Needs Assessment and demonstrate how changes to service provision will reflect feedback from residents and communities.
Proposals for individual libraries will be linked to the new library strategy and will be put forward in Autumn.