Our libraries play a very important role in our communities and we're committed to providing a high quality, accessible service for our residents.
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 this spring (2018) and another is planned for Belper in 2019.
While the service is highly valued, it is not immune from the many challenges we face as a council. Pressure on our services (inflation, growing demands on services for older people and children) continues to grow, while funding from central government is reducing.
This year (2018/2019) we need to save a total of £12 million, with work continuing to achieve savings up to 2020 of £53 million.
As part of this ongoing work, last year our Cabinet identified £1.6 million savings from the library service budget to be realised 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 2012/2013 and 2016/2017 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.
We're proposing to deliver library services in new and innovative ways in partnership with local communities, to be developed through consultation, and adopting a `tiered approach’ to providing and resourcing the service.
Our draft strategy Libraries for Derbyshire - Public Library Service Strategy does not propose the closure of any libraries but it does propose that we prioritise where we provide financial support for the library service in the future.
In drafting the strategy a number of options were considered before a preferred option was put forward.
Options considered were:
- to maintain 45 static libraries and two mobile libraries, although this is not considered viable given the challenges facing the service
- for some libraries to be run by community groups (like in Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire)
- outsource the service (Nottinghamshire, Devon, Suffolk, York)
- close a number of libraries
Our preferred option
Our preferred option, which we have now held a 12 week consultation on, is a mixture of council-run and community-run libraries, identified through the use of a tiering method.
Under this option, tiers 1, 2 and 3 (a total of 25 libraries), would still be run by us, and tier 4 (20 libraries) would be transferred over to be managed by the community.
The 20 libraries designated as Tier 4 libraries are:
- Borrowash, Etwall, Clowne, Duffield, Creswell, Brimington, Whaley Bridge, Killamarsh, Melbourne, Hadfield, Holmewood, Gamesley, Whitwell, Wingerworth, Pinxton, Hayfield, Tideswell, Old Whittington, Somercotes, and Woodville.
Other changes would still need to be considered to achieve the overall savings required. This would include a proposal to reduce weekly opening hours across all libraries at quieter times with at least 1 late night opening and Saturday opening. This would encourage the increased use of self-service and a reduction in the materials fund.
During the consultation we also sought feedback on the possible creation of `smart libraries’, which can be accessed using a PIN, for future consideration.
There are also community-run and managed options included in the draft strategy for the future of the 2 mobile libraries.
During our 12-week consultation we asked for your views on the following proposals in the draft strategy:
- that the libraries in 20 communities in Tier 4 will be transferred to community management
- that the community-managed libraries are retained as part of our statutory network
- that we will implement a tiered approach, which will be used to decide on provision and resources for libraries in the future
- that there will be a reduction in weekly opening hours across the library service
- that there will be a reduction in the materials fund (books, audio books, eBooks, eMagazines, eAudio, online resources like Newsbank and newspapers)
- that voluntary and community organisations will be consulted with a view to creating an alternative way of delivering the mobile library service
- that the future implementation of smart libraries be considered
- that the DVD hire loan service will cease
- that feedback will be gathered and considered on the potential impact of the proposals
What happens next
Our 12-week consultation has now closed. A report will now be drafted, taking the views given during the consultation into account. This report will be considered by our Cabinet later this year.