Libraries next steps

Recommendations for the future for Somerset’s libraries service will be published this month.

During the recent libraries service consultation, which ran from January to June, over 7,000 responses from across Somerset were received including nearly 13,000 comments.

These have been carefully reviewed and analysed over the summer and a report detailing the consultation findings and the council’s recommendations is expected to be published online on 16 October ahead of discussion by the council’s Scrutiny Committee for Policy and Place on 24 October.

A link to the report will be forwarded to communities affected, along with further details on individual library recommendations.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “We are heartened by the number of responses and the feedback from communities we received. These are all being taken into account as we compile the report.

“It is clear that library services are valued across Somerset.  Even in these tough financial times, we remain committed to delivering a strong, thriving library service whilst living within our means. Where a change to their existing library service is proposed, we encourage communities to continue talking with us.”

The report will detail the evidence of the need for library services and potential impacts of any change. It will include feedback from the libraries consultation and set out how the Council will continue to ensure there is reasonable access to library services.

Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny Committee for Policy and Place will meet to consider and debate the recommendations on 24 October before the Council’s Cabinet Committee make a final decision on 5 November.

If approved, Cabinet’s decision will confirm if library services within communities will remain the same or be provided in other ways in future. This could be through Community Library Partnerships or, if these are not forthcoming, through mobile library and/or outreach services.

For those libraries where a change to existing services is proposed, a Community Library Partnership Expression of Interest invitation will be issued to identified interested parties on 16 October with the completion deadline of midday 15 November.

Check out www.somersetlibraries.gov.uk for more information.