PEOPLE in Hartlepool are being urged to drop into one of several special consultation events to help shape the future of the town’s libraries.
Since 2010/11 the Government has cut Hartlepool Borough Council’s main revenue grant by almost 40 per cent – a drop of £30m – and since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent but the 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.
As part of that review, the Library Service is consulting with local people to seek their views on potential ways of delivering services differently to make savings and also improve services.
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:
•Whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities which have evolved and expanded over the years;
•The potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role in supporting library services;
•Possible further development of the libraries’ online services;
•The potential for the libraries to generate additional income.
David Worthington, the council’s head of culture and information, said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the consultation so far – if people haven’t yet given their views, I would very much encourage them to do so.
“We want to continue to maintain our excellent Library Service, 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.”
There are consultation drop-in sessions at all the libraries as follows:
Central Library, York Road
Wednesday, March 25, from 10am-noon,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
As well as coming to one of the above consultation events, people can also find out more and give their views by completing a Library Review Survey online at www.hartlepool.gov.uk/library_consultation_2015 or at any of the library branches during normal opening hours.
Other formats of the survey – such as large print – are available by calling 01429 272905 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also send written comments to: The Library Review, Hartlepool Central Library, 124 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE or email email@example.com
The closing date for receipt of comments is Saturday, May 23.