East Sussex Libraries Consultation - The Way Forward

Closes 14 Dec 2017

Opened 21 Sep 2017

Overview

Why are we consulting?

In this libraries consultation we are asking for your views on our draft Strategy for East Sussex libraries over the next five years.

The draft Strategy sets out our proposed approach to provide a modern, sustainable Library and Information Service for the future, recognising the financial constraints which East Sussex County Council faces and also the changes in the way that people are using libraries.

Our draft Strategy presents proposals for a needs-based library service.  This means a library service where we prioritise our resources to achieve outcomes that will best meet the needs of those who live, work and study in East Sussex.

Our work to produce our draft Strategy shows that there are significant needs across the county, and especially within certain communities, around literacy, attainment, employment and ultimately health and wellbeing, which the Library and Information Service is ideally placed to help tackle. 

You can read our draft Strategy and all of the evidence on which our proposals are based in full on our website at eastsussex.gov.uk/librarystrategy.  Alternatively, you can request a paper copy by contacting us using the details below.

 

How to take part in this consultation

The consultation runs for 12 weeks, from 21 September to 14 December 2017.  We would like to hear from you whether or not you currently use the Library and Information Service.  We will do all we can to make it as easy as possible for everyone to have their say.

There are a number of ways you can give your views:

  • By completing the questionnaire online
  • By picking up a copy of the questionnaire in a library
  • By printing a copy of the questionnaire from this website and returning it to us
  • By contacting us to request a paper copy of the questionnaire using the details below.

Completed surveys can be returned to the drop off points in East Sussex libraries or posted back to us at: Library Consultation, West D Floor, County Hall, St Anne’s Crescent, Lewes, BN7 1UE.

If you have a question about this consultation, need help to take part or need a copy of the information in a different format or another language, please contact us by e-mail at library.consultation@eastsussex.gov.uk or by phone on 01273 335165 and 01273 335397.

What changes are proposed?

Libraries in East Sussex are a popular service with almost 1.5 million visits during 2016/17.  However, the number of visits and the number of items issued in libraries have both reduced by around 40% over the past ten years.  By comparison, the number of items borrowed online has risen, although these still represent a relatively small amount of our overall loans.

Our proposals would enable us to modernise the East Sussex Library and Information Service in order to respond to the increasing demand from customers to access library services online and the reducing number of people visiting libraries. They would enable us to cut our costs by having fewer libraries and to prioritise our resources to provide better support to people in East Sussex. 

We propose to help improve literacy for adults and children and provide learning opportunities for people so that they can get on in life by having better skills and finding employment.  By providing independent, reliable information and resources, we believe we have a key role to play in supporting the health and wellbeing of people in East Sussex.  We also believe that libraries should continue to provide a way for people to get online if they cannot do so at home, or need help accessing the internet.

The majority of our customers use our libraries for the pleasure of reading and the benefits this brings.  Although we propose a more modern library service with fewer libraries, we will continue to provide a highly accessible network of libraries containing all of the things people love about going to the library.  Over 90% of our customers would still be able to use their current library in exactly the same way they do today.

The key changes we are proposing are:

  • an enhanced eLibrary, continuing to expand the growing range of online services and materials we offer.  As well as accessing materials online, the eLibrary allows people to manage their library loans anywhere, anytime, using the familiar ‘click and collect’ approach.
  • a greater focus on outreach provision, by working more closely with other County Council services and partners.  This will enable us to use limited resources more effectively to achieve better outcomes for those people who stand to benefit most from the service, but may be less able or inclined to visit a library.
  • a smaller network of 17 library buildings, in appropriate locations across the county according to identified needs, which will continue to provide a comprehensive range of materials to borrow and resources to use.  Our proposals ensure there remains a very high level of accessibility to a library by public transport or by car within a reasonable journey time of 20-25 minutes.
  • to no longer provide the Mobile Library Service, or provide a supply of books for the Northiam Village Library.  This proposal takes into account the fact that the 17 library buildings and the eLibrary provide a high level of accessibility to library services for rural communities, and are a more efficient way to meet needs for library services in these areas. 

We fully recognise that, although our proposals will offer a more modern service overall, there is likely to be a greater impact for certain groups, particularly older people, people with a disability and some people in rural areas.  We are proposing measures to reduce the impact by supporting their particular needs.  These include a Community Library Card, allowing community representatives to borrow a larger number of items for a long period to make available to their local community, e.g. in a village hall or community centre.  Anyone who cannot easily use a library due to disability or frailty or caring responsibilities is able to use the Home Library Service.

Further detail on the proposals themselves and our rationale for them can be found in the Strategy on our website at eastsussex.gov.uk/librarystrategy

How much will this save?

The proposals within the draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy would enable us to make a saving of £653,000 per year by co-locating library services with other County Council services, income generation, and the reduced provision of library buildings, the Mobile Library and other services.

This would mean that the Library and Information Service has been able to identify total savings for the Libraries Transformation Programme of over £1.9 million toward an original savings target of £2 million.  The Programme has included other changes to the Library and Information Service, including administrative and management savings and the reduction in library opening hours. 

What happens next?

Our proposals have not yet been decided.  East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet have approved our draft Strategy so that you can have your say.  Once the consultation is complete and the results have been analysed, the draft Strategy and all the supporting documents will be amended and updated proposals presented to Cabinet in March 2018.  We aim to start implementing our new Strategy from April 2018.

Give Us Your Views

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • Libraries