Last autumn the Council launched the first of a two-part Library Review public consultation. The way people use libraries is changing. At the same time Councils everywhere are having to make major savings because of Government cuts in funding. The size of the funding cuts that Reading Council is now facing means that we need to look across all service areas to find savings – and this includes libraries. We cannot continue to deliver the library service the way we have in the past.
No decisions as to the future of our libraries service have been taken. But, taking all of this information together, the Council has developed a set of proposals for the Library Service in Reading for consultation.
What is proposed for Whitley Library?
Whitley Library is currently located just off a roundabout, a short walk from local shops and the South Reading Youth and Community Centre. Whilst greatly valued by its customers, Whitley Library is significantly less well used than other branches, although it serves a fairly large catchment area.
In this context, there is an opportunity in South Reading to make more efficient use of public buildings by bringing services together into one building. It is proposed that a library service is retained in South Reading and moved into the South Reading Youth and Community Centre, creating a new ‘community hub’.
The Council believes that bringing services together would increase use of the library and encourage customers to access a wider range of services and support. At the heart of this approach is making neighbourhood facilities vibrant, well-used and sustainable. Library services are about so much more than lending books, and it is precisely because of this wider role that there are benefits of sharing spaces with other services and working more closely together.
Creating a single community hub reduces building costs such as heating and lighting and also allows shared reception staff for more than one service. This would be supported by the introduction of self-service library kiosks allowing customers to borrow, renew and return books and to pay fines.
It is also proposed that staffing cover could be dedicated to library services for 20 hours per week. A shared staffing model might mean that the library service could be accessible for more than 20 hours a week but this would be a minimum.
Wider Plans for South Reading Youth and Community Centre
In order to allow more detailed feedback on the proposal to move the library service in South Reading into the South Reading Youth and Community Centre, the Council is exhibiting illustrative plans here at the library for the duration of the Phase 2 12 week consultation period from 22nd February – 16th May.
Have Your Say
The consultation will run from 22nd February to 16th May. Plans will be displayed in Whitley Library throughout this period and you can have your say by:
Responding to the online questionnaire at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryreview
Completing the questions included at the end of the consultation document, available at any Reading Library or the Civic Offices.
Email in to: email@example.com
Write in to: Library Review, Reading Borough Council, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU.
Drop-in sessions when Council staff will be available to explain the plans will also be held on dates below. Feedback to staff from these drop-in sessions will also be captured and reported back as part of the consultation.
Thursday March 10th, 10am – 1pm (Whitley library)
Tuesday March 29th, 4pm – 7pm (Community centre)