THE 12-week consultation on the future of Warwickshire Library and Information Service has come to an end.
When the consultation came to a close on Thursday more than 4,500 consultation questionnaires were returned, around half paper (52 per cent) and half online (48 per cent).
In addition, feedback from 26 public meetings and 39 library roadshows has been recorded, along with the content of more than 500 letters and emails received, and 10 petitions. Sixteen communities have expressed an interest in running their own local library services.
All the responses will now be analysed and reported to Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet, which meets on July 14 to make decisions, following consideration by an Overview & Scrutiny committee on July 11.
Cllr Colin Hayfield, portfolio-holder for customers, access and physical assets, said: “I thank everyone who has taken part in the consultation. The level of response shows how much Warwickshire people care about their library service.
We must now consider the findings and decide how the service will be delivered in future.”
Warwickshire County Council must cut spending by more than £70 million over the next three years. As part of the savings plan, the Library and Information Service budget will reduce by £2 million.
The library proposals consulted upon identify 16 Warwickshire libraries no longer sustainable in their current form, alongside other cost-cutting measures including reduced opening hours, reductions in the mobile library fleet and workforce, and cutting the number of public computers across the library network.
“These are extremely difficult times for local authorities and cuts are unavoidable to achieve the necessary savings,” said Cllr Hayfield.
“I want to reassure people that their feedback will be fully considered. We are not going through the motions - this is real consultation. We need to know what people think of the savings plans, and how they would be affected by them, to help us make the right decisions.”
If implemented, the proposed changes would reshape the library network, creating a three-tier service with three main libraries, 15 local libraries, plus ‘Library Direct’ covering online, mobile, outreach and housebound reader services.
For more information visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/facingthechallenge.