Residents reminded to have their say

People are being reminded to have their say on proposed changes to Somerset County Council’s Library Services, as the consultation enters its final week.

Nearly 3,000 people have been in touch with the County Council online and in person at a number of sessions held in Somerset Libraries to give their views on the proposed plans.

They were able to share their opinions on several proposed changes. None of the proposals will see any library buildings closing but, along with internal non-customer-facing changes, would save the authority nearly £500,000. These savings will help the Council to continue to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

Proposals include seeing wi-fi installed in all libraries across the county, outreach services expanded for those who cannot visit a library, phasing out the lending of CDs, making changes to how the Performing Arts Library Service is delivered and introducing criteria for mobile library visits. A number of internal changes to the management of the library service will also contribute to the savings.

Cllr David Hall, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “We have had an amazing response from across Somerset regarding these proposals and I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to let us know their thoughts on the future of our Libraries.

“If you haven’t yet had your say there is still time. Get in touch before Sunday 11 January and help us shape the way forward.”

The consultation is due to close at midnight on Sunday 11 January. Final proposals will be published at www.somerset.gov.uk on Friday 13 February ahead of a decision at a meeting of Cabinet on Monday 23 February.

The proposals
The proposals reflect changing patterns of use and customer expectations and changes in Somerset’s demography. If implemented they would deliver £472k in savings for 2015/16.

The proposals being consulted on are:
• Enable and inspire all to take advantage of the digital age
• Develop and expand our outreach services for those that cannot visit a library
• Implement criteria for mobile library stops and introduce alternatives to the mobile library service
• Phase out the lending of CDs
• Deliver the Performing Arts Library service in a different way
• Seek alternative suggestions for changes so that library services represent excellent value for money and meet need and demand

The majority of the savings would be made from internal, non-customer facing changes which would be decided without public consultation. These would include making efficiency savings through operations and the management structure of the Library Service.

To take part, the proposals and questionnaire can be accessed:
• Online at www.somerset.gov.uk/libraryconsultation
• At libraries or mobile libraries
• By emailing libraryservicereview@somerset.gov.uk