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Changes could be made to Uttoxeter Library

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UTTOXETER Library could offer a new range of services under new plans revealed by council chiefs.

Staffordshire County Council is asking Uttoxeter residents to help shape the future direction of the library in a major consultation.

As the way people use libraries continues to change, the council has announced proposals to meet that shifting demand and safeguard the service for the future.

They would mean more services are available online while in some areas the council is looking for communities to get more involved, and even take on and run their local library.

Mike Lawrence, the council’s cabinet member for children, localism and communities, has revealed the High Street facility could become a Library Core which would mean the council would provide a range of services with the potential to share premises and opportunities to be more flexible to the needs of individual communities.

The county council will also explore if partners such as police or health services want to share buildings with libraries, to provide more services in one place to local people.

Councillor Lawrence is now asking for approval for a 12 week consultation on the future of the county library service.

He said: “While communities love their libraries the way people use them is changing. We want to act now so they remain relevant and popular for years to come.

“Libraries have already changed a great deal in the last decade, but user numbers are still falling. We need to change, radically, to reinvigorate our libraries so they are better used within their communities and to do this within the council’s financial resources.”

The proposals involve moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working with individual communities to find more flexible approaches.

Under the proposals, the council suggests turning four libraries into ‘library extra’, 15 into ‘library core’ and 24 into ‘library local’ which will be run by communities. The council will continue to provide a full service through ‘library extra’ and ‘library core’ and it is expected the ‘library extra’ will share space and facilities with a range of other services.

Councillor Lawrence said: “Library usage is falling in particular as more people go online to read, find information or socialise. We need to respond to that so we want communities to have a bigger say in what they want from their local library and to tell us how they want to be involved. And the greater their enthusiasm, the more they can be involved.”

The more detailed suggestions follow an initial consultation with library users, staff and interested groups across the county and will include an improved online offering so that people can access services at a time and place that suits them.

If the proposal is approved, the consultation will begin on July 7.

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