LIBRARY users are to be asked to help re-shape Staffordshire’s library service so that it adapts to what people want in the future.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet last week approved the start of a consultation that will look at how libraries are currently used, and what local people and community groups want from them in the years ahead.
The county council will start talking with groups and partners who use Staffordshire’s libraries, to draw up proposals for the future of the service.
The results and proposals will then go out to county-wide public consultation in the spring.
During the cabinet members discussed how the library service of the future will include a much larger online offer, in recognition that providing services from buildings is not always the best way to do things or to reach all residents.
The review will also look for innovative new ways of providing library services to make sure the county council delivers real value for money to taxpayers, and spends every penny as effectively as possible.
Discussions with stakeholders and partners is planned to take place between January and April, to explore in depth how libraries are currently used and what demand exists for current and future services.
The feedback will be used to create a new model for Staffordshire’s Library Service.
Michael Lawrence, cabinet member for children, communities and localism on Staffordshire County Council, said: “We want to hear from everyone who uses our libraries to find out what they value about them, and how they need to adapt in future to meet people’s needs.
“Today’s libraries are radically different from 20 years – just look at the impact of IT and the internet on how we get hold of the information we need - and the service needs to keep evolving to keep pace with the changing way that people live their lives.
“Between now and April we will be looking at what residents and organisations want from their libraries and how they are used across the county to ensure that we get the right offer for local people.”
During 2012/13 the total number of visits to a Staffordshire Library was 3,961,830.
There were also 951,796 virtual visits to the service in 2012/13 – which include e-books downloads, and online visits.
Loan of e-books has more than doubled with 5,371 e-books downloaded in 11/12 increasing to 12,871 e-books downloaded in 12/13, and the expectation is that this pattern will continue again this year.
Staffordshire’s Library Service currently has 43 building-based libraries, six mobile libraries and two travelling libraries.
There are also seven prison libraries and a schools library service but they will not form part of the review.