Public could shape future of Swindon libraries in proposed consultation

This Is Wiltshire: Coun Keith Williams Coun Keith Williams

A STRATEGY designed to enhance Swindon’s library service and make it more sustainable will be discussed by the Cabinet next Wednesday.

Councillors will be asked to approve a 12-week consultation on the draft library strategy to seek the views of the public and those interested in libraries.

The revised strategy will build on the success of the current strategy which has seen more than 200 volunteers and three friends groups working within libraries across the borough.

The service also benefits from around 75 RVS volunteers who operate the Home Library Service for more than 200 customers, particularly the elderly.

Swindon, which has 16 libraries and is in the top quarter of unitary authorities for the number of libraries per head of population, has a number of neighbourhood libraries co-located in community centres, while Walcot Library is operated by a community group with support from the Council’s Library Service.

The emerging strategy will need to take into account the financial challenges facing the council and the role that libraries play within local communities.

The consultation will explore what libraries mean to local residents and the principles by which they would like to see services delivered. The proposed consultation on the draft library service would run from mid-January to mid-April next year, with a report on the outcome to be presented back to council’s Cabinet next June.

Coun Keith Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways, Strategic Transport and Leisure who is responsible for libraries, said: “We have to find savings of £48m over the next three years and the only way we are going to meet this financial challenge is by changing the way we deliver services. The library service is no exception.

“We are extremely proud of our library service and we are incredibly lucky to have such a large number of libraries serving people in the borough.

“We want that to continue and this draft library strategy is all about exploring how we can achieve this. For example, the community may want us to continue to co-locate libraries in community hubs with other services. Alternatively, there may be community groups who would be interested in running their own service with the support of the council.

“If the consultation is approved by cabinet, the important thing is that the public engages with us so we can gain a clear understanding of how people want their library services to be delivered in the future.”

Comments (13)

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8:24am Sat 7 Dec 13

Shirley Burnham says...

It would be interesting for the public to view the most recent comparative figures for book issues and renewals in Swindon's libraries because they may be being asked to swallow the premise that all their smaller libraries have all shown a marked decline in lending in the last 2 years. However, if that is *not* universally the case, people may legitimately wonder why only the Branch libraries are being singled out in this Draft Strategy, once again.

Has there been any reduction in lending from the central library over the same period, for example? Central must suck in most of the investment in the network, whilst the small ones get very little. The performance of the small Branch libraries is, therefore, under the circumstances utterly remarkable! They still serve the local public as best they can, mostly very well indeed - given that the odds have been stacked against them.

The Draft Strategy, which punishes the small libraries and the residents who use them, has been based on what might, with further investigation of data, seem to be spurious foundations. Why might this be so? It is just a rehash of the discredited mindset that prevailed in 2009/10.

Yes, there are over 200 library volunteers all told, in Swindon according to this article. The figure will include people like me who do a Story Time a couple of times a month. To imply that all volunteers have the commitment and time to do what is being asked for is disingenuous.

Walcot Library, mentioned here, has enjoyed success as a community centre and shop, thanks to its volunteers, but has also seen a significant decline in lending books. According to Swindon Libraries' own data, book issues have fallen from 14,000 in 2008/09 to only 2,000 in 2011/12.

In light of Walcot's performance as a 'library' - it is mystifying why the model is proposed for other libraries. Recent contact with its lead volunteer shows that he supports my view that it should *not* be.

To plan to make substantial savings year-on-year by means of The Strategy proposed, feels decidedly shifty and wrong. I hope those users and stakeholders who'll be affected (and all those Swindonians who value libraries and literacy) will contribute their views and not remain silent when the 'consultation' is launched.
It would be interesting for the public to view the most recent comparative figures for book issues and renewals in Swindon's libraries because they may be being asked to swallow the premise that all their smaller libraries have all shown a marked decline in lending in the last 2 years. However, if that is *not* universally the case, people may legitimately wonder why only the Branch libraries are being singled out in this Draft Strategy, once again. Has there been any reduction in lending from the central library over the same period, for example? Central must suck in most of the investment in the network, whilst the small ones get very little. The performance of the small Branch libraries is, therefore, under the circumstances utterly remarkable! They still serve the local public as best they can, mostly very well indeed - given that the odds have been stacked against them. The Draft Strategy, which punishes the small libraries and the residents who use them, has been based on what might, with further investigation of data, seem to be spurious foundations. Why might this be so? It is just a rehash of the discredited mindset that prevailed in 2009/10. Yes, there are over 200 library volunteers all told, in Swindon according to this article. The figure will include people like me who do a Story Time a couple of times a month. To imply that all volunteers have the commitment and time to do what is being asked for is disingenuous. Walcot Library, mentioned here, has enjoyed success as a community centre and shop, thanks to its volunteers, but has also seen a significant decline in lending books. According to Swindon Libraries' own data, book issues have fallen from 14,000 in 2008/09 to only 2,000 in 2011/12. In light of Walcot's performance as a 'library' - it is mystifying why the model is proposed for other libraries. Recent contact with its lead volunteer shows that he supports my view that it should *not* be. To plan to make substantial savings year-on-year by means of The Strategy proposed, feels decidedly shifty and wrong. I hope those users and stakeholders who'll be affected (and all those Swindonians who value libraries and literacy) will contribute their views and not remain silent when the 'consultation' is launched. Shirley Burnham

9:32am Sat 7 Dec 13

Always Grumpy says...

Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.
Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year. Always Grumpy

3:05pm Sat 7 Dec 13

trolley dolley says...

Walcot library is still here.

Back in 2009 it was being considered for closure because of the cost of running the service.

There had to be 2 full time staff on duty during open hours with at least one other in reserve.

There was a considerable amount of money spent on a cleaning contract and there was the insurance to be paid. This along with other costs such as services came to a considerable amount.

By bringing in volunteers it meant that these costs virtually disappeared apart from the services. This is because the Charity pays some of the remaining costs and uses true unpaid volunteers.

It is said that the book lending has dropped substantially; well this newspaper printed an article in 2009 when the Charity took over and quoted a figure of 700 books for 2009. This figure may be on the low side but it does show that the library was not giving value for money at that time.
By using volunteers we have stopped any talk of closure and the library 4 years on still has a future to look forward to.

We the volunteers see ourselves as custodians of the library and not library staff. We will continue to keep the library open, clean, well run and available until such time that the council decides it may be better to put a lot more money into the service or provide something different.
Walcot library is still here. Back in 2009 it was being considered for closure because of the cost of running the service. There had to be 2 full time staff on duty during open hours with at least one other in reserve. There was a considerable amount of money spent on a cleaning contract and there was the insurance to be paid. This along with other costs such as services came to a considerable amount. By bringing in volunteers it meant that these costs virtually disappeared apart from the services. This is because the Charity pays some of the remaining costs and uses true unpaid volunteers. It is said that the book lending has dropped substantially; well this newspaper printed an article in 2009 when the Charity took over and quoted a figure of 700 books for 2009. This figure may be on the low side but it does show that the library was not giving value for money at that time. By using volunteers we have stopped any talk of closure and the library 4 years on still has a future to look forward to. We the volunteers see ourselves as custodians of the library and not library staff. We will continue to keep the library open, clean, well run and available until such time that the council decides it may be better to put a lot more money into the service or provide something different. trolley dolley

4:29pm Sat 7 Dec 13

Al Smith says...

Always Grumpy wrote:
Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.
Library users are already paying for the service through their council tax. Just because you don't use a service doesn't mean it shouldn't be funded by the council. I'm sure some of the library users are subsidising things that you use and that they don't.
[quote][p][bold]Always Grumpy[/bold] wrote: Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.[/p][/quote]Library users are already paying for the service through their council tax. Just because you don't use a service doesn't mean it shouldn't be funded by the council. I'm sure some of the library users are subsidising things that you use and that they don't. Al Smith

6:38pm Sat 7 Dec 13

Always Grumpy says...

Al Smith wrote:
Always Grumpy wrote:
Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.
Library users are already paying for the service through their council tax. Just because you don't use a service doesn't mean it shouldn't be funded by the council. I'm sure some of the library users are subsidising things that you use and that they don't.
That was my point. I'm already pay for waste collection, but will be asked to pay twice next year, so why shouldn't others be asked to pay twice for particular services?
So according to you then, some will be expected to pay for services twice, but others only once! Hardly fair is it?
Let's all pay for the services we actually use then. I would be far better off under that system.
[quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Always Grumpy[/bold] wrote: Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.[/p][/quote]Library users are already paying for the service through their council tax. Just because you don't use a service doesn't mean it shouldn't be funded by the council. I'm sure some of the library users are subsidising things that you use and that they don't.[/p][/quote]That was my point. I'm already pay for waste collection, but will be asked to pay twice next year, so why shouldn't others be asked to pay twice for particular services? So according to you then, some will be expected to pay for services twice, but others only once! Hardly fair is it? Let's all pay for the services we actually use then. I would be far better off under that system. Always Grumpy

7:49pm Sat 7 Dec 13

MrAngry says...

Always Grumpy wrote:
Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.
I currently have no need for libraries, but used to use them as a child. I have no objection to my taxes being used to provide a service to others.
[quote][p][bold]Always Grumpy[/bold] wrote: Stop all rate payers money being used to support them. If people want libraries, then they should pay extra for them, much in the same way we are being forced to pay extra for green waste collections next year.[/p][/quote]I currently have no need for libraries, but used to use them as a child. I have no objection to my taxes being used to provide a service to others. MrAngry

8:45am Sun 8 Dec 13

house on the hill says...

do we know that actual numbers of library users against the numbers in Swindon? what percentage use it and are there cheaper ways of providing the service if people want it?
do we know that actual numbers of library users against the numbers in Swindon? what percentage use it and are there cheaper ways of providing the service if people want it? house on the hill

4:35pm Sun 8 Dec 13

Empty Car Park says...

Wow!
All this public consultation.
SBC listening to public opinion and caring.
A town designed by its people for its people.
Swindon must be the best place in the world to live
Wow! All this public consultation. SBC listening to public opinion and caring. A town designed by its people for its people. Swindon must be the best place in the world to live Empty Car Park

5:37pm Sun 8 Dec 13

Always Grumpy says...

Empty Car Park wrote:
Wow!
All this public consultation.
SBC listening to public opinion and caring.
A town designed by its people for its people.
Swindon must be the best place in the world to live
Well, it can't be the worst place to live in, as it's not included in the latest "Top 50 Crap*Y towns to live in".
Interestingly Oxford comes in 31st place!
[quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Wow! All this public consultation. SBC listening to public opinion and caring. A town designed by its people for its people. Swindon must be the best place in the world to live[/p][/quote]Well, it can't be the worst place to live in, as it's not included in the latest "Top 50 Crap*Y towns to live in". Interestingly Oxford comes in 31st place! Always Grumpy

7:40am Mon 9 Dec 13

Ringer says...

Empty Car Park wrote:
Wow!
All this public consultation.
SBC listening to public opinion and caring.
A town designed by its people for its people.
Swindon must be the best place in the world to live
Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst.
[quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Wow! All this public consultation. SBC listening to public opinion and caring. A town designed by its people for its people. Swindon must be the best place in the world to live[/p][/quote]Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst. Ringer

6:32pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Empty Car Park says...

Ringer wrote:
Empty Car Park wrote:
Wow!
All this public consultation.
SBC listening to public opinion and caring.
A town designed by its people for its people.
Swindon must be the best place in the world to live
Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst.
Just because you say, doesn't make it so.

And Swindon will STILL be cr@p
[quote][p][bold]Ringer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Wow! All this public consultation. SBC listening to public opinion and caring. A town designed by its people for its people. Swindon must be the best place in the world to live[/p][/quote]Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst.[/p][/quote]Just because you say, doesn't make it so. And Swindon will STILL be cr@p Empty Car Park

7:38am Tue 10 Dec 13

Ringer says...

Empty Car Park wrote:
Ringer wrote:
Empty Car Park wrote:
Wow!
All this public consultation.
SBC listening to public opinion and caring.
A town designed by its people for its people.
Swindon must be the best place in the world to live
Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst.
Just because you say, doesn't make it so.

And Swindon will STILL be cr@p
It's got nothing to do with what I say, it's to do with the reality of the situation.

I feel quite sorry for wherever it is you're moving to. They'll now have to endure your never-ending 'dancing' and nailing together of old MDF boards on which to do it.

Still, like us, they'll get a good laugh out of you deluding yourself into thinking people find it interesting to watch.

Always worth a watch: is.gd/7jPjIb
[quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ringer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Wow! All this public consultation. SBC listening to public opinion and caring. A town designed by its people for its people. Swindon must be the best place in the world to live[/p][/quote]Wherever it is that you're moving to is about to become the worst.[/p][/quote]Just because you say, doesn't make it so. And Swindon will STILL be cr@p[/p][/quote]It's got nothing to do with what I say, it's to do with the reality of the situation. I feel quite sorry for wherever it is you're moving to. They'll now have to endure your never-ending 'dancing' and nailing together of old MDF boards on which to do it. Still, like us, they'll get a good laugh out of you deluding yourself into thinking people find it interesting to watch. Always worth a watch: is.gd/7jPjIb Ringer

12:48pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Empty Car Park says...

I don't care as long as people still pay me and invite me to some good events.

Pointless trying to explain that to a hobbyless saddo like you though
I don't care as long as people still pay me and invite me to some good events. Pointless trying to explain that to a hobbyless saddo like you though Empty Car Park

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