We currently have 45 static libraries, and 2 mobile libraries which serve 150 communities, and they’re all valuable community hubs which are free to enter and open to all.
In Derbyshire, unlike some other authorities, no static libraries have closed in recent years and a number of new, replacement libraries have been built (South Normanton, Heanor and Ashbourne). We’ve also opened a new replacement library in Glossop in spring 2018 and another is planned for Belper in 2020.
While the service is highly valued, it is not immune from the many challenges facing the council. Pressure on our services (inflation, growing demands on services for older people and children) continues to grow, while funding from the government is reducing.
This year (2019/20) we need to save £13.4m, with work continuing to achieve savings of up to £63m over the next 5 years.
As part of this ongoing work the library service must save £1.6m from its budget by 2021, and to achieve this big changes need to be made.
Changes and taking bold decisions are part of our work towards being an enterprising council, and we’re constantly looking at different and more efficient ways of doing things.
We acknowledge that a predominantly building-based, fully funded library service is increasingly difficult to sustain and that the service must make changes if it is to continue, achieve the necessary savings, and avoid future closures or significant service reductions.
In Derbyshire, the trends of use and performance of libraries appears to be in line with the national picture. Between 2012/13 and 2016/17 book issues in the county saw a reduction of 33% in line with the national trend, and there was a 21% decline in physical visits.
The proposed changes, which form the Derbyshire Public Library Service Strategy, were agreed by our Cabinet in December 2018
Changes to the strategy
The final report that was agreed, had a number of changes to the draft ‘Libraries for Derbyshire’ strategy that we consulted on in 2018. The changes reflected the feedback received during the consultation.
These changes include:
- supporting groups running community managed libraries (CMLs) with 5 years of grant funding, rather than 4
- making £50,000 available to pay for independent support for CMLs
- seeking help from Locality (a national network supporting community organisations) to support CMLs
- giving more support and assistance in the financial processes of running a CML for the first 2 years
- help with recruiting and training volunteers, and developing eLearning packages
- ensuring the council includes support for CMLs in any new staffing structure
- trialling an idea for ‘smart libraries’ (unstaffed and accessed by a PIN) before any implementation
- keeping the existing DVD stock and loaning them free of charge until March 2021.