Library proposals to be discussed
Published on 6th January 2012
Sandwell library chiefs are to look at wide-ranging proposals for the future operation of the borough's library service in the face of funding cuts.
A major consultation process has been taking place for more than a year and a progress report will go to the Cabinet advisory team next week (Jan 12).
It includes a proposal to reduce opening hours at a majority of libraries in the borough's 19-strong network.
The reduction would equate to four per cent of the total number of hours across the library service.
Cabinet member for leisure services Councillor Linda Horton said: "The council is facing significant reductions in its funding and in line with expected reductions Libraries and Archives face a 20% loss of net expenditure budget over the next three years.
"We are having to explore ways we can continue to run the service in the face of such cuts.
"This includes proposals to reduce opening hours, targeted at the less well used libraries so as to minimise impact on customers.
"Even if the changes are introduced total opening hours will still be higher than five years ago."
In October 2010 the library service published a Strategy for Service Delivery to begin consultation with library stakeholders around how to deliver high quality and efficient library services that continue to meet the needs of local communities during a period of budget reductions.
In July 2011 this was followed up with the library Innovation and Evaluation Plan, a set of practical suggestions for library reconfiguration to deliver cost savings.
The Innovation and Evaluation Plan sets out four main agendas for innovation:
- Library location and distribution
- Community management
- Going digital
- National best practice
A final report will be delivered later this year with a fuller evaluation, allowing consultation to take place with local communities on a library by library basis.
The library service made budget reductions for 2011/12 through more effective use of staffing and the introduction of self-service for book issues and returns.
Councillor Horton said: "This is a difficult time for libraries across the country, as they plan to deliver high quality and efficient library services that continue to meet the needs of local people during a period of budget reductions.
"Sandwell has managed to buck this trend, opening two new libraries in Oldbury and Blackheath, both of which have more than doubled the usage of the libraries they replaced.
"Library users can be sure we will continue to do everything possible to protect the service."
Notes to editors
The library service has introduced a number of changes to save money and boost efficiency.
- Reducing management costs
- Reducing building costs by locating libraries in partners' buildings
- Improving discounts on buying new books, through a joint contract in partnership with the other Black Country libraries
- Rationalising the van fleet, reducing by two vehicles, and introducing a smaller low floor mobile library
- Implementing self-service in the 12 largest libraries
- Savings to supplies and services
The proposed reduction in opening hours are:
- Hill Top Library - reduction of 3.5 hours or 17%
- Great Bridge Library - reduction of 1.5 hours or 3.1%
- Rounds Green Library - reduction of 2.5 hours or 9%
- Oakham Library - reduction of 3.5 hours or 12.7%
- Langley Library - reduction of 2.5 hours or 6.8%
- Brandhall Library - reduction of 2.5 hours or 9%
- Cradley Heath Library - reduction of 2.5 hours or 6.8%
- Tipton Library - reduction of 1.5 hours or 4%
- Hamstead Library - reduction of 3 hours or 8.6%
- Stone Cross Library - reduction of 3 hours or 7.9%
- Bleakhouse Library - reduction of 1.5 or 3.3%
- Great Barr Library - reduction of 0.5 hours or 1.4%
- Blackheath Library - reduction of 0.5 hours or 1.3%
- Wednesbury Library - reduction of 0.5 hours or 1%
- Thimblemill Library - reduction of 1 hour or 2.2%
- Smethwick Library - reduction of 0.5 hours or 0.9%
- Oldbury Library - no reduction
- Central Library - no reduction
- Glebefields Library - no reduction