City Councillors have agreed to revised proposals which save three libraries from closure by instead altering library opening times.
The council’s Executive Board today (January 17) voted in favour of keeping all existing libraries open, but with some shortened opening times across the library network, and Aspley Library modified to create a stock distribution and outreach hub while retaining it as a publicly accessible library.
Earlier plans involved among other things the closure of Basford, Radford/Lenton and Aspley libraries, with Aspley’s being turned into a distribution hub for the library service.
However, some savings have already been achieved through a staffing restructure in the libraries service, meaning only £79,000 of savings were needed from the original £233,000. This, along with strong public feedback against the closure proposals and emerging factors such as their important role of libraries during the cost-of-living crisis and as warm hubs, has allowed the council to look again at how to achieve the necessary changes and savings.
The report to Executive Board outlined that the revised proposals, which respond to the views and concerns raised by individuals and communities and the strong opposition to closures, would still enable the transformation to create a modern library service, while responding to financial pressures facing the council and the specific delivery of the required savings.
The fresh approach allows the council to:
• Ensure a comprehensive service in light of local authority financial challenges
• Expand the digital service and use
• Respond to and deliver wider community needs and council priorities e.g. literacy and learning, training and support into work, support to operating in a digital world and community health and well-being
• Increase opportunities to work in partnership with other public sector agencies and organisations to deliver shared outcomes
• Future proof the service through targeted resources and activity and becoming more agile and flexible to respond to changing circumstances
• Address the needs of people for warm hubs, for community space and for retaining access to books and other printed and online media.
Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture & Planning, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “Today I am delighted to be in a position to say to those who use the libraries, who love borrowing our books, take their kids there, visit them because their home is too cold and the heating too expensive, those students who use them to do their homework and those who use them to use the WiFi connection, the people of of Radford, Aspley and Basford, all those who exercised their democratic right to fill in the consultation papers and those who campaigned and lobbied – their voices have been heard.
“The decision for the closure of the three libraries was put forward due to pressure to balance our budget. I am pleased we have been able to find ways to achieve the required savings without the need for those closures.”