Agenda item

Libraries: Our Next Phase

Following comprehensive consultation on the strategic principles for Surrey County Council’s Library and Cultural Service in early 2019, a new strategy for Libraries and Cultural Services and a new model for library services has been developed. This report seeks Cabinet approval for this strategy

 

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee]

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the Library and Cultural Services strategy and future model for the library service was approved.

2.    That authority be delegated to the Executive Director for Children, Life Long Learning and Culture to work with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to proceed to consultation where necessary over the next 12 – 18 months, as and when the specific proposals for each area become clearer following a process of co-design with local people and key stakeholders.

 

Reason for decision:

 

Surrey County Council established its strategic principles for the delivery of Library and Cultural services in January 2019, following a comprehensive consultation exercise. Concurrently, the Council had additionally developed a new organisational strategy, ‘Vision 2030’, setting out the priorities for Surrey County Council and the outcomes it is sought to achieve. Using both of these, a detailed community profile had been prepared through 2019.  It was clear that the way in which people were using libraries was changing. There was a pattern of falling usage amongst the adult population, with fewer regular users borrowing more books, while usage amongst children was growing. We must also look beyond how libraries respond to demand reactively, and consider whether they can make a greater contribution, proactively, to Surrey’s corporate priorities.  Within this context we have developed a new strategy which seeks to set a direction for the modernisation of our Libraries and Cultural Services which maximises their contribution to the priorities of the Vision 2030 and ensures that we continue to deliver our statutory responsibility to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desirous to make use there of”, as set out in Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964.

 

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee]

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning introduced a report that sought approval of a new strategy for the Libraries and Cultural Services and a new model for library services following a comprehensive consultation in early 2019 on strategic principles.  Initially, a programme of co-design would take place at a local level with stakeholders including district and borough councils, other partners and local people. This would identify the opportunities to modernise library services in the places that they are delivered, and in line with the new library model. The specific proposals that would be developed through this process would then be, where necessary, consulted upon to ensure that the full impact of any proposed change was understood, and the perspective of local people taken into account before any final decision for change was taken.

 

Mr Chris Townsend addressed the meeting and spoke of a library in his area that was owned by the NHS and had heard that the NHS wanted the building back and sought confirmation of this as he had not seen anything in writing.  The Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning confirmed that this was the case and that the Leader of Mole Valley District Council had been part of the conversation around this and that she would invite Mr Townsend to a meeting to discuss this. Mr Townsend again sought confirmation from the Leader of the Council as he had not seen anything in writing.  The Leader of the Council confirmed that he would seek clarification at a meeting of the Integrated Care Systems Board which he chaired.

 

Mr Jonathan Essex also addressed the meeting and sought clarification on what the proposals meant in practice and which libraries were in which group as well as the size of the different categories of libraries.  The Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning spoke of the full Member briefing where she had presented a slide show that was available to view on the Members portal for those that could not attend.

 

Several Members spoke in favour of the proposals and in response to a specific question about recruitment of a new Head of Library Service the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning confirmed that a good appointment had been made.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the Library and Cultural Services strategy and future model for the library service was approved.

2.    That authority be delegated to the Executive Director for Children, Life Long Learning and Culture to work with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to proceed to consultation where necessary over the next 12 – 18 months, as and when the specific proposals for each area become clearer following a process of co-design with local people and key stakeholders.

 

The decision was unanimous.

 

Reason for decision:

 

Surrey County Council established its strategic principles for the delivery of Library and Cultural services in January 2019, following a comprehensive consultation exercise. Concurrently, the Council had additionally developed a new organisational strategy, ‘Vision 2030’, setting out the priorities for Surrey County Council and the outcomes it is sought to achieve. Using both of these, a detailed community profile had been prepared through 2019.  It was clear that the way in which people were using libraries was changing. There was a pattern of falling usage amongst the adult population, with fewer regular users borrowing more books, while usage amongst children was growing. We must also look beyond how libraries respond to demand reactively, and consider whether they can make a greater contribution, proactively, to Surrey’s corporate priorities.  Within this context we have developed a new strategy which seeks to set a direction for the modernisation of our Libraries and Cultural Services which maximises their contribution to the priorities of the Vision 2030 and ensures that we continue to deliver our statutory responsibility to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desirous to make use there of”, as set out in Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964.

 

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee]

 

 

Supporting documents: