Hampshire County Council is asking people who live, work and study in Hampshire to have their say on proposed changes to libraries.
A 10-week public consultation opens today (9 January 2020) asking Hampshire residents for their views on:
- the emerging vision for Hampshire’s Libraries to 2025;
- the level of need for library services in specific local communities;
- proposed changes to the Library Service and the potential impacts; and
- any alternatives that respondents may wish to propose.
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said:
The way people use library services is changing, and we need to make sure our services evolve to meet these needs.
At the same time, we are facing an anticipated budget shortfall of £80 million by April 2021 and are having to look across all of the County Council’s services to find savings which can help to bridge this gap as demands for services rise, particularly in social care. The Library Service is required to identify £1.76 million towards the County Council’s overall savings target.
We remain absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service, fit for the future, that responds to a new generation of library customers. Therefore, we feel the right thing to do is focus the resources we have on where they will be of most benefit – to make the library service relevant in a way that will improve the literacy, life chances and well-being of Hampshire residents.
We will be conducting a ten-week public consultation which looks at options for delivering savings from the Library Service budget. This represents 16% of the overall budget for the service. This still means that a budget of around £10 million would remain. The proposals in the consultation have been carefully thought through and offer a genuine choice, including options for the community to step in to run independent community-managed libraries. As well as increasing income and improving business efficiency, the consultation includes proposals for changes to the way services are delivered. This includes options to close up to 10 council-run libraries and reduce opening hours in others. It also considers exploring better ways to deliver library services in deprived communities.
No decisions will be made until all the consultation responses have been fully analysed. I would therefore urge everyone who lives, works or studies in Hampshire to come forward and have their say.
The consultation is open until Wednesday 18 March 2020. Feedback received will inform decisions to be made by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage in summer 2020. No decisions will be made on any of these proposals, until people have had the opportunity to give their views.