Have your say on plans for Plymouth’s libraries

People are being asked to share their views on plans to transform the way library services are delivered in Plymouth.

We have produced a draft Plan for Libraries that aims to modernise Plymouth’s library services over the next three years so they better meet the needs of local communities and make better use of resources.

Plymouth has a network of 17 libraries but there are big differences in the services they offer and many are under-used and expensive to run. Just seven libraries account for 80 per cent of all library visits and 75 per cent of all items borrowed.

Visitor numbers and lending figures are also falling – as they are nationally – and we need to find more flexible, cost-effective and convenient ways of providing services that can adapt to customers’ changing needs.

The Plan for Libraries 2017 to 2020 takes into account feedback received during the recent Library Conversation, as well as a detailed assessment of community needs, user figures and the condition and sustainability of library buildings.

The plan proposes to close 10 library buildings that are under-used and expensive to run and invest in improving the others, as well as enhance online and outreach services. It will allow us to:

  • Keep busier libraries open and ensure that the majority of Plymouth residents live within two miles of a library building
  • Modernise or refurbish buildings where needed, including the redevelopment of St Budeaux Library, where there has not been any significant investment for a number of years
  • Enhance online services to offer a wider range of eBooks, audiobooks and digital magazines
  • Create a new outreach offer, providing a wide range of services in settings within communities and expanding the Home Library Service for housebound users.

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “The way people use library services is changing but we haven’t altered our library network in more than 15 years.

“Many of our libraries are under-used with little or no scope for development but changes in technology mean we don’t need to be constrained by our buildings; services can be delivered online and out in communities.

“The draft plan sets out a future for library services that will ensure all our buildings are modern and fit-for-purpose, as well as provide an exciting online offer, available 24/7 and a wide-ranging outreach service out that can be more responsive to community needs.”

The draft Plan for Libraries is a proposal at this stage and no decisions have been made. Consultation starts on Wednesday 25 January and the Council is encouraging everyone to have their say. The plan will be available online and in all libraries and there will be public meetings and drop-in sessions where people can share their views and ask questions.

To view the plan and make comments visit our Plan for Libraries page. Consultation will open at 9am on Wednesday 25 January and run until Wednesday 19 April.

The decision to consult will be published today and may be subject to call-in for scrutiny.