Community managed libraries, self service access and “Open Plus Technology” are three of the options being considered for library services across Wrexham County Borough.
The proposals have been put forward as Wrexham Council looks to make cuts of £300,000 to library services across the county borough over the next two years – a cut of 23%.
Wrexham Council operates 11 libraries across the county borough – including the mobile library – at a cost of over £1 million a year.
However last year the local authority featured a ‘review of the library service’ within its ‘Difficult Decisions’ budget process. At the time it was stressed by Ian Bancroft, chief executive of Wrexham Council, said the review “isn’t just a cost cutting exercise” but also about providing a “modern library service” for the public.
Over 58 per cent of participants supported a full review whilst only 13 per cent supported changes in just one or two areas with the remaining participants in the survey having no preference.
On Monday a public consultation on ‘Shaping the Future of Wrexham Library Service’ launched, asking members of the public what changes they would like to see made to the current provision.
The consultation includes six separate sections on “opportunities for change” for the main Wrexham Library, mobile library, community libraries and the Homelink service.
One option being considered for Wrexham Library is the use of ‘Open Plus Technology’, which would allow the opening hours to be extended when the building is unstaffed.
This would mean members of the public who are 18+ can access their library, resources, computers and spaces by scanning their library card and typing the PIN number into the access point near the library entrance to enter the library when it’s unstaffed.
A self-service offer is also being considered, with participants asked what they would like to use such a service for.
In terms of the mobile library – which the council says is second busiest branch after the Wrexham Library – the service could extend its reach if a four week rota was introduced.
Currently the service operates on a three week rota visiting 71 stops in the county borough.
However Wrexham Council say if a new rota was introduced, then this would “reduce the frequency of the service to its current stops and have the potential of introducing 20 new mobile stops in the county”.
The local authority also operates library services in nine communities across the county borough – four of which are based in community resource centres and four in standalone buildings owned by the council. The library in Overton is provided from a building owned by a third party.
Within the consultation it is noted that there are “opportunities to share the library space to extend the provision available in each centre and to increase access through unstaffed open access and self-serve systems” for those based within community centres.
However in relation to Rhos, Ruabon, Cefn and Chirk, Wrexham Council says that it knows it is “unable to continue to fund all four libraries to remain open providing the current levels of service and therefore want your views about how we collectively can retain the best service we can together to meet the needs and demands of our customers.”
It continues onto say: “Whilst there is less opportunity in these four communities for open access as there would be implications for opening and closing buildings and for increased possibility of anti-social behaviour occurring as there would be no other activities on site; there are options for investing in more service at less locations.
“This could be in the form of community managed libraries, shared services and facilities in other community based buildings.”
Proposals are also put forward for Homelink Library, which delivers library materials to the homes of residents who are housebound due to long term illness/failing health and/or disability or their carers.
Although no options / proposals are listed within the consultation, Wrexham Council says it is engaging with customers and is asking for comments and feedback about the service.
The council also asks for opinions on what services users would like to see provided and “decentralised” to community libraries – including blue badges, bus passes, council tax enquiries and queries, school transport enquiries or streetscene enquiries.
Cllr Andrew Atkinson, lead councillor for youth services and anti-poverty, said: “In light of the financial challenges we face, we will – unfortunately – have to make a number of changes to our Libraries Service, to make sure they remain viable and sustainable well into the future.
“But as well as having to make changes in line with cuts, some of the planned changes will make the service more convenient and accessible for library users. And there is also the possibility that Contact Wrexham services could be integrated with libraries.
“But we need the public’s views on all of the above to let us know which way to proceed – as such, I would encourage all library users, and communities, to take part in the consultation and make their views known.”
A series of public events on the consultation will also take place between now and December:-
– October 2nd: Overton: 3pm to 5pm
– October 4th: Coedpoeth: 3pm to 5pm
– October 14th: Rhosllanerchrugog: 3pm to 5pm
– October 15th: Gwersyllt: 3pm to 5pm
– October 16th: Brynteg: 3pm to 5pm
– October 17th: Chirk: 3pm to 5pm
– October 18th: Llay: 3pm to 5pm
– October 19th: Wrexham: 10am to noon; 1pm until 3pm
– October 28th: Ruabon: 3pm to 5pm
– October 30th: Cefn: 3pm to 5pm.
– November 6th: Canolfan Glyn Ceiriog: 10am to noon
– November 7th: Tŷ Pawb: 10am to 3pm
– November 11th: Brymbo Enterprise Centre: 10am until noon
– November 12th: Splash Magic: 5pm to 7pm
– November 13th: Acton Resource Centre: 3pm to 7pm
– November 14th: Rhostyllen (mobile library): 2pm to 4pm
– November 15th: Holt (Cae’r Llew – mobile library): 9.45am until noon.
– November 21st: Caia Park Partnership – 11am until 1pm.
You can take part in the ‘Shaping the Future of Wrexham Library Service’ consultation, here*.
(*As usual we can’t deep link direct to the consultation due to the way the consultation website works, and as we have pointed out before looking at the provider’s site they have a nearly 2 meg background image, so this lack of useful functionality is not a surprise.)
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