A RENEWED pledge has been made that no Bournemouth libraries will face the axe – but they will have to make cuts and generate income worth of £1.7million.
Following a wide-ranging review of the town’s library service, councillors are pledging no closures, no reduction in hours and no adverse impact on the home library service.
Instead, the service, which accounts for 3.21 per cent of the council’s total budget, will be “transformed” to meet the changing demands of customers. Over the next seven years, £1.7m of cuts and extra income will be achieved by: l Increasing income through premises hire, fees and charges, overdue stock and sales.
l Restructuring staff by freezing vacant posts and merging responsibilities.
l Reducing the annual stock budget.
l Saving money on printing, stationery, consumables and furniture costs.
Other suggestions for the future include shared use of library buildings by information and advice agencies, review of opening hours to best match customer demand, installing public Wi-Fi facilities, using digital technology to promote the service, hiring out space for exhibitions and meetings and siting coffee bars or drinks machines in some libraries.
Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for corporate policy implementation, said: “The crux of the whole thing is to make libraries not just somewhere to borrow books, important as that is.
“We’re not cutting services, we’re not closing libraries and hopefully we’re offering the public a better service. It will certainly be a different service.”
The recent consultation asked adult and child visitors to rate the five services most important to them. Unsurprisingly, printed books to borrow topped the poll from all ages.
“There’s still a demand for printed books and that was very gratifying to see,” said Medi Bernard, service and strategy manager for libraries and arts. “The enquiry and information service provided by libraries was also valued and the public computers were regarded as very important. “We’re very mindful that we are all things to all people. At the same time as bringing new services into libraries we want to preserve what people value.”
And Cllr Michael Weinhonig, who has helped lead the scrutiny of the libraries’ business case, said: “This is giving the service a future. It gives us continuity. These are real savings that we will achieve.”