Libraries – Don Buxton asks more very good questions

We again bring you the latest in this series of correspondence with respect to the Libraries Consultation and the Assessment of Local Need. Latest first, as usual.

Dear “Murphy, Bernard” <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your response,

As an avid reader and lifelong supporter of adult and child literacy I have perused your response and I intriguingly note that you refer to: “It has been demonstrated in the past, in a number of other local authority areas, that changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage, so long as the hours  are the right ones”.

As you have been bold and apparently informed enough to make the above statement to me I now require for you and/or an RMBC colleague to provide the following information for me in order that I can aspire to reach that same informed and knowledgable state –

(a) when “it has been demonstrated in the past”.

(b) to which “local authority areas” you refer.

(c) what “changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage”.

(d) who, and on what specific basis, decides which “hours are the right ones”.

Please provide me with specific information to confirm the veracity and integrity of your statement of supposed facts to me and please provide this information in electronic format and within the timescale prescribed in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Thu, 12/7/12, Murphy, Bernard <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Murphy, Bernard <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Assessment of Local Need
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 18:31

Dear Mr Buxton,

Thank you again for your interest in and contributions to the consultation regarding the current review of library provision.

First of all, it is important to stress that at this stage we are considering a number of proposals and that any decisions will only be made by elected members once feedback from the public consultation has been analysed.

Following the decisions by members to review the service (November 2011) and to take proposals out to public consultation (June 2012), we are expecting to present the results of public consultation to them in the autumn.

The challenge presented to the Library and Information Service was to deliver a modern, vibrant library service within the resource available to use.  We have therefore considered the need for, the usage of and the accessibility of the service across the whole of the Borough when drawing up proposals.

Proposals also take into account the Library and Information Service Strategy 2011-15, which was developed following public consultation and is available on the Library Service’s website. (www.rotherham.gov.uk/libraries). This also sets out the priorities for the service.

The context for the review is a recent period of positive investment in our library service in terms of bookfund, construction, modernisation, replacement and refurbishment including the opening of six new libraries in as many years. (Thorpe Hesley 2007, Wickersley 2008, Mowbray Gardens 2009, Aston 2010, Riverside and Rawmarsh 2012). We are proud of our library service in Rotherham and hope that this review will equip us to continue to provide a modern vibrant library service across the borough.

With regard to Wickersley Library specifically, the Council contributed around £570,000 to the cost of the capital development of the site and continues to support the service with an ongoing revenue contribution.

The proposals are based on an assessment of local need for the service, rather than purely current usage. This includes the development of a number of ‘hub’ sites across the Borough( currently proposed  for Wath, Riverside House, Dinnington and Aston) These sites would have extended opening hours and also offer access to additional Council and partner services.

It has been demonstrated in the past, in a number of other local authority areas, that changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage, so long as the hours  are the right ones. So for example, if the library is very quiet on one day, then moving some of those hours to another day or evening could open it up to more people within the local community. As part of the consultation, we hope that local people will contribute their local knowledge/community background.

Thank you once again for your contributions to the debate so far. I hope that you will be available to attend on July 17 at Wickersley Library so that we can listen to and record your views on potential opening hours for Wickersley and all the Library Review proposals.

Bernard Murphy
Manager : Library and Information Service
Cultural Services
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham MBC ,3rd Floor, Wing A, Riverside House, Main Street
Rotherham S60  1AE

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