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Uttoxeter library hours could be cut

By Uttoxeter Advertiser  |  Posted: July 30, 2014

By Jenny Moody

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UTTOXETER'S Library could see a cut in its opening hours as council chiefs begin a major consultation in a bid to help save more than £1 million.

Staffordshire County Council is urging residents to have their say on the High Street facility as it begins a 12 week consultation to explore thoughts on new suggestions for the library service.

The county council is currently consulting users on its plans for a major overhaul of the service, which could save the authority £1.3 million by 2017.

Under the proposals being considered early morning and evening openings at 'core libraries', which is put forward for Uttoxeter, would be reduced.

Council leaders say they have considered when libraries are least busy before coming up with the proposed changes.

A face-to-face session will be held at Uttoxeter Library from 3pm to 6pm on Friday, September 12 and residents are invited to drop by and make their thoughts known on the new proposals.

Residents can also have their say by visiting the council's website or by post at any time.

Mike Lawrence, the council's cabinet member for communities and localism, encouraged Uttoxeter residents to make their feelings and ideas on the plans known to the council during the consultation process before they come up with the final plans.

He told The Advertiser: "Over 12 weeks we are visiting every library in the county at least once to talk to people about our ideas and see what they want.

"I expect a lot of people will come to the meetings to find out more and have their say, but with online and postal comments I think thousands of people will get involved.

"It's crucial we hear from library users and non-users alike, as well as anyone who lives, works or studies in Staffordshire.

"The intention is to encourage people to think about a different, more flexible service and whether the current ideas represent the best way to ensure libraries serve their purpose in 10, 15, or 20 years' time.

"We've already looked at ideas from other areas and recommendations by Arts Council England and we think this is a good way to safeguard our libraries, but we want to know people's thoughts.

"Libraries have already changed a great deal in the last decade, but user numbers are still falling.

"We need to change, radically, over the next three years to reinvigorate our libraries so they are better used within their communities, as well as developing the online service, but I must emphasise this is not a closure programme - we understand their value and their importance and we are committed to them remaining a valued part of local life."

The proposals include the creation of three new types of library, dubbed: 'library extra', 'library core' and 'library local'.

Under this suggestion the council will continue to provide a full service through 'library extra' and 'library core' and it is expected that the 'library extra' particularly will share space and facilities with other services.

The authority said that the 'Library local' option will be the most localised service they will offer, with the community deciding what it wants and then delivering it, with county council support.

The proposals also include investment in the online offering to improve the service's usability, look and feel, and compatibility with more electronic devices.

There will also be a question and answer sessions on the plans at Burton Library, in High Street, from 7pm to 9pm on Thursday, August 14.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to call 01283 296400 to book a place.

This will be one of eight question and answer sessions scheduled during the 12 week consultation.

There will also be workshops available for those who are interested being responsible for running their community library.

Tickets for those events need booking in advance due to the limited space on offer.

Details of public and online consultation for all of the county's libraries can be found online by visiting www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/librariesnew/Help-shape-library-service/Help-shape-library-service.aspx

A full list of all of the libraries in Staffordshire is available to view from the council's website at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries/connectedlibraries

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