Royston Library to be classified as ‘tier two’ under new Hertfordshire system
- Credit: Archant
A three-tiered library service is set to be introduced across Hertfordshire – but those behind a new strategy are urging the public to have their say to ensure each facility remains at the heart of the community it serves.
Herts County Council members have unanimously agreed plans for delivering a new 10-year strategy, as well as confirming details about how the cash-strapped authority will consult with the public on its proposals.
The Inspiring Libraries programme is centred on three main aims – making each library a vibrant community asset, creating a digital -savvy environment and using each facility as a gateway to reading, information and general wellbeing.
The new structure which has been put forward reflects the level of services available.
Royston Library will fall into the second category – which will provide core services with the option to have extended hours through volunteer supervised self-service.
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Buntingford Library is part of the third tier, with self-service facilities which can be extended with the help of volunteers.
Elsewhere in the county, 11 of the 46 operating libraries have been ranked in the first tier and will offer the broadest range of services, offering the longest opening hours and with library staff on hand at all times.
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“The idea is to increase community involvement and make every library the heart of its community, as our libraries are not used to the full at the moment,” said Councillor Frances Button, who holds the portfolio for library issues at Herts County Council.
“I see them as being a real community hub which can be used as a meeting point and as a base for groups.”
The library service currently has an annual budget of £15.8 million, but savings of £2.5m need to be made over the next three years.
Taryn Pearce, the assistant director for customer services and libraries at the county council, said: “We want to offer the best service possible but the cost of this comes from the public purse so we need to be a bit more customer savvy and business-orientated in our thinking.
“We need to increase income – that could mean hiring library space or buying a coffee.
“We want the community to have their say on how each library will run as each has its own identity.”
A public consultation on the Inspiring Libraries strategy – shaped by more than 15,000 responses last year – opens on Monday and runs until December 7. To comment visit www.hertsdirect.org/libraries.