St Helens Borough residents will have the opportunity to help shape plans for a modern, inclusive library service when a public consultation launches next week.
In May, cabinet members approved the draft St Helens Borough Library Strategy 2021-2026 which looks to bring forward a vision for the future delivery of a 21st century service, responding to the needs of library users and embracing community involvement.
As part of the strategy, residents are invited to take part in a questionnaire for the council to gain a better understanding on how libraries are being used, how often and what changes library users would like to see.
St Helens Borough Council has a statutory duty to deliver a free library service to all who live, work or study in the borough, although The Department for Culture, Media and Sport allows a wide range of approaches when deciding how library services can be run.
Some areas in the UK, such as Essex and Doncaster, have changed to a community-led management model, and the council keen to hear from individuals, community groups, parish councils and businesses to explore the idea of introducing this approach in St Helens Borough.
Encouraging residents to have their say, Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said:
“We’re all proud of our library services and the offer they provide – however it’s well known that the council has to make significant budget savings in the next year because financial support from Central Government has been shrunk from £127m a year in 2010 to just £12m this year.
“We have continued to invest in the service, including opening the new St Helens Library in The World of Glass in 2020, but in the last ten years, traditional use of libraries has fallen which is why we must consider all options to deliver library provision in new and more efficient and innovative ways to create an active and sustainable service for our residents.
“This new strategy is about working with communities on how we shape library services to be a part of their future. That is why it is so vital that we hear from you about what you want to see from our service and we’d love to hear from community groups and partners interested in how library services could be delivered in their area.”
An online consultation will go live at www.sthelens.gov.uk/council/public-consultation/ on Monday 14 June until Friday 27 August ,with paper copies also available in libraries.
To view the strategy, visit: http://moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/documents/s114417/Appendix%20A.pdf