Last autumn we ran a public consultation on the proposals outlined in the ‘Delivering Inspiring Libraries’ paper to ensure that residents and stakeholders had a say in how their libraries will look in the future and nearly 7,000 residents gave their views. Thanks to all those who contributed to the consultation and helped us to refine our proposals.

 

Feedback from the consultation and revised recommendations were discussed at Customer Services, Performance and Libraries Cabinet Panel on 10 February. You can read the revised proposals in full and the summary of feedback from the consultation here.

 

The ‘Inspiring Libraries’ strategy, which was published in September last year, sets out a vision of the library at the heart of the community, ambitious in its use of digital technology and delivered in partnership with local residents, organisations and communities. Most importantly, it retains all 46 of Hertfordshire’s libraries.

Tiering of Libraries

The ‘Delivering Inspiring Libraries’ paper proposed that Hertfordshire’s 46 Libraries should be reorganised into three distinct tiers:

  • Tier 1 – centrally located in large towns, offering the broadest range of stock and services and open for the longest hours.
  • Tier 2 – located in smaller towns, providing core library services and offering a wide range of popular stock.
  • Tier 3 – in smaller communities, we would retain our libraries and provide self-service access to library services, inviting local communities to provide volunteer supervision and additional activities and services.

Following the consultation, it has been agreed that:

  • Buntingford Library should be redesignated as a Tier 2 Library.
  • All Tier 3 libraries should be managed in partnership with local communities, but the seven larger and busier Tier 3 libraries should retain an element of paid library staff. These are Bovingdon, Chorleywood, Goffs Oak, Kings Langley, London Colney, Sawbridgeworth and Woodhall.
  • The library service should seek to identify two libraries as ‘early adopters’ of the community partnership model, and work closely with these partners to develop and refine the Tier 3 library offer. This refined model will then be rolled out to the remaining Tier 3 libraries in a phased programme.

Mobile library service

The ‘Delivering Inspiring Libraries’ paper proposed replacing the current mobile library service with an expanded Home Library Service for people with disabilities and mobility problems and carers.

Following the consultation, Cabinet noted the rationale for the proposal to withdraw the current mobile library service but asked for further work to be undertaken to develop and clarify alternative options for vulnerable and isolated people unable to visit their local library. A further paper on this will be presented to the Customer Service, Performance and Libraries Panel in May 2015, and a final decision on the future of the service will be taken at that point.

Other proposals
Cabinet approved proposals to continue to seek opportunities to modernise library buildings, to invest in improving technology and digital services, and to explore new revenue streams to increase library income.

A further paper will be presented to Customer Services, Performance and Libraries Cabinet Panel on 20 March 2015, outlining how the ‘Inspiring Libraries’ proposals will be implemented.