Library Service Public Consultation – Decision Day Update
Proposals to transform the Library Service to achieve savings of £1.76 million were agreed by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward at his Decision Day on 28 July 2020. The press release about Councillor Woodward’s decision can be read here.
The decision was made following an extensive public consultation, which showed strong support for the County Council’s vision to adapt the Library Service to the changing needs of its customers. The recommendations he agreed will put the Library Service in a strong position to meet the savings that are required now as well as likely in the future. They recognise the public preference expressed in the consultation of a reduction of hours over individual closures, and the number of libraries proposed for closure has reduced from ten to eight accordingly.
These eight libraries currently account for less than 5% of issues and only 5% of visits to all libraries in Hampshire. However, the council has put in place a package of measures which could see these eight libraries continuing by transitioning into community libraries, and the Library Service will be providing support to help them to do that. The impacts of potentially closing the libraries at Blackfield, Elson, Fair Oak, Horndean, Lee-on-the-Solent, Lyndhurst, Odiham and South Ham have all been carefully assessed and mitigation measures proposed. The closures will be implemented on 1 January 2021.
As part of the changes, support will be withdrawn from Hampshire’s four community-managed libraries. In response to feedback from the consultation additional mitigation measures will be provided to ensure these libraries can continue to provide a valued service to their customers including supplies of new books and one-off financial support.
Councillor Woodward agreed three additional recommendations designed to support libraries transition to independent community libraries at his decision day:
- For Independent Community Libraries to have access to the Library Service Group Membership Scheme to refresh their physical stock and to reserve specific titles from the Hampshire Library collection.
- To extend the current lease at Lyndhurst Library through to the end of December 2020, subject to the consent of the landlord.
- To make available awards of up to £10,000 from the Recreation and Heritage Community Fund to the eight libraries agreed for closure and the four community run libraries. In addition, advice from County Council officers will also be available for up to one year to support the transition of library functions and property handover.
A second public consultation will be launched on 3 August 2020, to confirm the actual opening times at each council-run library following the decision to reduce opening hours by an average of 20% of the remaining 40 libraries. The consultation will be available at www.hants.gov.uk/library-consultation on 3 August and run for two weeks. The changes to hours will be largely completed by January 2021.