Libraries and community assets
Libraries review and resulting strategy
Swindon Borough Council currently runs 15 libraries across the borough at a cost of £2.6m per year. Due to the council’s current financial pressures it is no longer affordable to run the library service in its current format, which is why the council has reviewed how the library service is delivered and made changes to ensure that it meets the demands of local residents while operating within a reduced budget.
Libraries are also changing due to technology and user habits, which also gave the Council an opportunity to redesign the library service to meet users’ needs.
In December 2015 the council signalled a £1.5m reduction in the library service to be achieved by 2020. To deliver this, the Council now has a strategy based on feedback from residents gathered during the engagement exercise that took place from 22 February to 29 April 2016, a thorough needs assessment of the residents of the borough, and the public consultation which took place from 1 August 2016 to 30 September 2016.
This strategy sets out a network of five core libraries: Central, North Swindon, West Swindon and Parks, with technology that will allow access to the buildings beyond staffed hours. Staffed hours will be 47.5 hours a week at Central, and 15 hours a week at North, West, Highworth and Parks libraries.
The strategy was agreed by the Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on 7 December 2016 - item number 67 and Appendices 1-4
In developing this core service, the Council has sought to balance the competing criteria of service reach and accessibility, community need, and affordability. The core network of five libraries will meet 80% of the visits made under the current service, and will mean that 84% of current library users – and 91% of Swindon’s households – are within two miles of a library.
The strategy requires that professional library services will be delivered by qualified librarians and trained library staff for activities such as learning and outreach, local studies, information and digital literacy, stock management, service development and volunteer co-ordination.
The Council is committed to enabling parishes, schools and community-led provision to be managed. Resourced and operated by local communities, partners and volunteers, co-located in public and community buildings.
Alongside the Council’s core provision, ward councillors, communities and local groups will be encouraged and supported to maintain and develop community-led library services. The Council has made £500,000 of transitional support funding available to support this. More information about this will be available soon.
For further information, please download the following cabinet reports: