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Great Shelford library review




County libraries in the firing line.


            The County Council is faced with a major funding crisis. The current libraries budget is £4.542m. For the year 2016 this needs to be reduced by £1.835m, a reduction of roughly 40%. You can see the magnitude of the problem.


The Library Service has now presented its outline strategy for 2016 onwards. So far there is not much concrete detail, but if it is implemented, one thing it makes clear: things staying as they are is not an option. The County Council is currently running a consultation on the strategy, which lasts until 30 April.


            The full details of the Library Service’s vision for the future can be found on the internet here, where it is described in full. http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/site/custom_scripts/cons_details.aspx?ref=357


Please consider expressing your views. You can find the online survey here: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=142246176596

or you can contact the Friends of Great Shelford Library.


In this newsletter, we are outlining their proposals.

There are no real details of what this new vision will mean for Great Shelford Library as yet. The Friends Committee has been invited to the Annual Meeting for library Friends Groups on 25 March, and we are promised that more will be revealed. We will let you know what we are told as soon as possible after that date.


            The Library Service’s vision for 2016 and beyond, mentioned above, is a lengthy document, and not very readable, so here are the key points:

·         The Library Service would shift towards “enabling” rather than delivering services, supporting communities to support themselves. It aims to put the local community at the heart of deciding where its library should go, and in practice this is likely to mean a library run by volunteers rather than paid staff.

·         Library buildings could evolve into community hubs -flexible multipurpose spaces”, serving a variety of uses only one of which is as a library. This model has been successfully adopted in a number of libraries such as Chatteris and Melbourn. The model relies on co-locating other services within the library building, such as GP surgeries, advice centres, a post office, a coffee room or meeting rooms. The Library Service also aims to target its resources where they are most needed. Working with other providers, it would be looking to work with children and families, the elderly and the disadvantaged. Existing activities like Rhymetime and Engage groups at Shelford are examples, but a much wider spread of activities and agencies is envisaged. The library as we now understand it would only be one of the functions of the building. If the hub housed a number of county council functions, then money on buildings would be saved; if other organizations were housed in the building, they would bring money in to help pay for the existing library building.

·         Libraries in villages are likely to be operated by local volunteers with the support of the Library Service (there are currently 10 community libraries).

·         Overall, “digital first” is to be the aim with the library. The library will become a prime mover in helping people to engage with the digital world, providing access, training and support with technology within libraries. E-books are expected to increase significantly and be accessed from home, and paper books decrease, so that there is less and less need to physically visit the library. 

            If you have concerns about the future of the library, you can express your views in a number of ways:

·         By filling in the on-line consultation form.

·         By expressing your views to the Library Friends (via the Friends box in the library), to your Parish Council and/or to your County Councillors, Tony Orgee and Gail Kenney. If you need details of how to contact any of them, please contact the Friends to ask.