Projects to upgrade three libraries to get underway

Plymouth’s plan to transform and modernise its libraries is getting into gear with funding for the first set of improvement projects now approved.

Meeting spaces are to be created in three existing libraries at Crownhill, Devonport and Southway so that the buildings can host a wider range of events to encourage people to use libraries as places to socialise and improve their health and wellbeing through clubs such as memory cafes, job clubs and digital skills lessons.

Council leader Ian Bowyer has given the green light to a package worth £121,408 to get first phase of the Plan for Libraries underway. It also includes buying equipment to enable the service to deliver pop-up libraries in areas such as Whitleigh where there previously has been no service provision.

He said: “The Plan for Libraries was always aimed at creating a modern libraries service, which reflects the 21st Century and the fact people want access to computers and advice as well as a full range of services based around reading.

“I am delighted to see these improvements now get underway. I am also really pleased to see the Libraries Service team up with CATERed to bring a new generation of library users through their Lunch at the Libraries project. It’s inspiring and just the sort of initiative that can make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The Plan for Libraries set out proposals for the next three years and the steps the Council will take with its vision to ‘deliver modern services that inspire learning and creativity, improve health and wellbeing and support digital inclusion.’

Only last week the Council launched its search for a partner to redevelop the St Budeaux Library to create more modern and fitting facilities.

As well as planning for future needs, staff have serving up a summer of reading and food. Plymouth Libraries joined forces with CATERed, the Plymouth food provider on its Big Summer Food Tour to feed children’s minds and tummies.

Every Wednesday in August at Devonport Library, St Budeaux Library and a pop-up library at the Four Greens Centre in Whitleigh, children can pick up a free lunch and join in with family friendly activities.

Free activities from 10am to 4pm include the Summer Reading Challenge, crafts, digital making, coding and more.

Manager Mandy MacDonald said: “Last week we had 1,400 visitors at those libraries and 600 lunches served up. This was an amazing take-up and an absolute joy to see so many children getting stuck into books, colouring, making models and having great fun.”

Special guests include Dartmoor Zoo, the Theatre Royal, National Marine Aquarium, Shark Trust, Plymouth Music Zone, Devon and Cornwall Police, the Cats Protection League and authors Tom Palmer and Emma Carlisle.

Every week, the first 100 children at each venue will be given a free book to take home and keep.