THE future of library services could be under threat as the service faces severe funding cuts.
The Government has cut Hartlepool Borough Council’s main revenue grant by £30m in recent years and since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent.
Despite this savings have been achieved without any direct impact on library opening hours or the branch library network.
But the Library Service now has to find further savings from 2016, and these cannot be achieved without reviewing the whole service, including front-line operations.
Over the next three months the Library Service is consulting with users, staff, and other interested parties for views on ways of delivering services differently to make savings and also improvements.
Hartlepool has five libraries – the main Central Library in York Road plus the four smaller part-time branch libraries: Headland, Owton Manor, Throston Grange and Seaton Carew.
Among the aspects being looked at in the review are opening hours, whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities, potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role, possible further development of the libraries’ online services and the potential for the libraries to generate additional income.
David Worthington, Hartlepool Borough Council’s head of culture and information, said: “Hartlepool has an excellent library service and we want to continue to maintain that, but in the light of the massive financial pressures which the council continues to face, we need to find even better, more cost-effective ways of working.
“At the same time, we also need to make sure that our libraries remain in the best position to meet people’s future needs and their changing requirements.
“We’re keen to hear people’s thoughts on some possible ways forward and we would also welcome other suggestions, so I very much hope as many people as possible will take part in the consultation.”
People can find out more and give their views by completing a Library Review Survey online HERE.
Consultation drop-in sessions will be held at all the libraries:
• Central Library, York Road Wednesday, March 25 from 10am-noon and Saturday, March 28 from 10am-noon:
• Owton Manor Library, Wynyard Road, Thursday, March 26 from 3pm-6pm;
• Headland Library, Middlegate Friday, March 27 from 3pm-6pm;
• Seaton Carew Library, Station Lane Tuesday, March 31 from 3pm-6pm;
• Throston Grange Library, Glamorgan Grove Wednesday, April 1 from 3pm-6pm.
People can also send written comments to: The Library Review, Hartlepool Central Library, 124 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date is Saturday, May 23.