Consultation on future of Staffordshire libraries launched

Four more libraries could be taken over by local community groups from Staffordshire County Council.

23 libraries have already been taken over by volunteers, but still directly managed and run by the county council, to ensure they stay open, despite budget constraints.

Of the remaining 20 libraries, the four ‘least busy’ libraries - Cheadle, Clayton, Eccleshall and Penkridge - are being considered to become community managed.

A three month consultation has now been launched to look at options.

Discussions will include potentially using technology to maintain and extend opening hours with an automated service, and reviewing how the mobile and travelling service is used.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “We have worked hard in recent years to buck the trend of closures happening in so many other places and have succeeded in keeping all Staffordshire’s 43 libraries open and part of our statutory provision.

“The community-managed libraries are already doing good things in their neighbourhoods, evolving into flexible hubs adding other services local people want.

“This consultation is about looking to the future and examining ideas already being used in other parts of the country to see how we can keep our libraries relevant to people’s changing needs.”

People will be asked to comment on possible options for each of the remaining 20 libraries, specifically:

  • maintaining and extending existing opening hours by using technology to allow registered users access to the library outside core hours. No library would become completely self-service;
  • maintaining and extending existing opening hours by using more volunteers;
  • becoming a community-managed library, where a group takes over the management and day-to-day running, with access to all the council’s library resources, while the authority remains responsible for agreed utility bills and maintenance costs.

Gill Heath said: “Nothing is set in stone, but we want to talk to different communities about different ideas and discuss the possibilities for the way forward.”

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