Monday, 22 February 2016

Have Your Say On Palmer Park And Other Libraries

Palmer Park Library - Have Your Say
Reading Council has launched a further consultation on the future of the town's Library Service.
This includes Palmer Park Library. 
See full details below, including the closing date of 16th May 2016. 


Next Stage in Library Review Consultation Begins
22/02/2016 
Reading Borough Council Press Release
 
THE second phase of a two-part consultation on proposals for future library services in Reading begins today (Feb 22).
The public consultation process runs for 12 weeks and asks residents and library users for feedback on a set of proposals in which all seven local services operating in the borough continue to be delivered, but opening hours are reduced to make savings. In some cases library services would be delivered differently, or from other buildings.
Proposals have been drawn up following Phase 1 of the Library Review consultation process in which 1,792 responses were received. No decisions have yet been made on the future of library services. Responses to Phase 2 of the consultation process will be considered before final decisions are made in the summer.
People can read the full consultation document and have their say at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryreview. The closing date is May 16th.
A review of library services is just one of many areas the Council is having to consider to identify savings in the face of severe and unprecedented Government cuts in funding, and increased demands on Council services. Latest estimates are that Reading Borough Council needs to find another £51 million in savings over the next three years, and more than £18 million in 16/17 alone. £65 million worth of savings have already been made since 2011.
Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture and Sport, said:
“People who use libraries continue to value them, but severe cuts in Government funding means many Councils - including some close to home - have been forced to consider shutting down branches to make savings. In Reading we have done everything we can to avoid doing that by making the best possible use of limited resources.
“The set of proposals being consulted on mean all seven local library services in Reading would continue to be provided, but they would be delivered differently. In the case of Southcote and Whitley for example, existing library services would be provided from other buildings, and in Southcote’s case that would be from the nearby Community Centre which would be extended to include a library service. In all cases, local libraries would have their opening hours cut, but we are determined to do that in that in line with public use.
“A key part of achieving that is by looking closely at the feedback we get from the consultation process. I would urge everyone who uses their local library - whether regularly or just occasionally – to take some time to read the proposals in detail and take part in this important consultation.”
Phase 2 of the Library Review consultation process was approved at a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee, on February 15. The proposals centre around making the very best use of council buildings and space, and prioritising limited resources so that libraries are open in line with how busy they are, and when people most use them.
They include:
• Retaining Central Library - by far the best used library in Reading - as the hub of the borough library network. Reduce opening hours to 46.5 hours a week (a reduction of 6 hrs a week)
• Keeping Caversham Library open as the branch serving the largest catchment population. Reduce opening hours to 35 hours a week (a reduction of 15.5 hrs a week)
• Extending Battle Library into a ‘community hub’ to allow access to community groups outside of opening hours. Reduce opening hours to 28 hours a week (a reduction of 11.5 hrs a week)
• Relocating Southcote Library into the nearby Community Centre and extending the building so that it becomes a community hub, which includes a local library service. Reduce library opening to 20 hours a week (a reduction of 13.5 hrs a week)
• Relocating Whitley Library into South Reading Youth and Community Centre to create a community hub. The centre is well used and relocation would encourage improved library use in the area. Reduce library opening hours to 20 hours a week (a reduction of 14.5 hrs a week)
• Explore opportunities for increased community use of Tilehurst Library to make the best possible use of existing space. Reduce opening hours to 28 hours a week (a reduction of 14 hrs a week)
• Explore options to share use of the existing Palmer Park Library, or to provide a smaller neighbourhood library service from an alternative existing location in the East Reading area. Reduce opening hours to 20 hours a week (a reduction of 21.5 hrs a week)
Under the proposals the Council would also explore opportunities to widen take-up of the borough’s Toy Library to benefit the whole of Reading, and further develop the use of technology, including new ‘self-serve’ technology, offering an efficient service for users and making the best use of staff and other resources.
If proposals are agreed, the Council is proposing to ensure there will be a continuous service of library services where they will be delivered from different buildings.
The consultation document can be found at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryreview. It lists proposals in full, including examples of how proposed reductions in opening hours could be achieved at each branch. Hard copies of the consultation document are also being distributed to local libraries, relevant community centres, and the Civic Offices.
People should have their say at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryreview. Residents who prefer to write in with comments can email: libraryreview@reading.gov.uk or write to the following address: Library Review Phase 2, Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU.
Where the introduction of ‘community hubs’ are being proposed, outline illustrative plans are being made available at individual libraries as part of the Library Review consultation. This is so that local users have enough information to have their say on how a library service would work as part of a community hub. A series of drop-in sessions have also been arranged for local communities as follows:
• Tuesday March 1st, 9am–12pm: Battle Library
• Thursday March 3rd, 4pm–7pm: Southcote Community Centre
• Thursday March 10th, 10am-1pm: Whitley Library
• Thursday March 17th, 9am-12pm: Southcote Library
• Tuesday March 29th, 4pm-7pm: South Reading Youth and Community Centre
• Tuesday April 5th, 4pm-7pm: Battle Library
Phase 2 of the consultation process will include meetings with groups representing older people, people with disabilities, BME Groups, families and children and young people. 
ENDS 

Notes for Editors: 
Phase 1 of the Library Review consultation showed the most common suggestions from library users to find further savings were reducing opening hours, charging or asking for donations for participating in library activities and sharing space with other services or partner organisations.
The Council has also looked at information it holds on visits to library branches. It shows Central Library is by far the best used borough library, accounting for 49% of all visits, 37% of books borrowed and 74% of all IT sessions.
Central, Caversham, Battle and Tilehurst are the most visited libraries, with Central, Caversham and Whitley serving the largest catchment areas.
Whitley, Palmer Park and Southcote libraries were the least visited, with Southcote and Palmer Park serving the smallest populations.
The proposals coming forward for Phase 2 of the consultation process reflect what communities have told the Council so far. If implemented, they would mean:
• Reducing opening hours, but maintaining reasonable access for people with different lifestyles and availability
• Libraries and other services co-locating to make the best use of space, and increasing access to spaces for community groups
• Exploring opportunities for creative partnerships in the future
• Retaining the recently upgraded public access IT at a local level, with new provision of Wi-Fi for 2016/17
• Making the best use of resources by using new technology and introducing self-service across all service points.

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