Wokingham Borough Council could be consulting on plans to expand and protect its already successful libraries next month (February) if the proposal is approved by the decision-making executive on January 28.
Wokingham Borough’s libraries are bucking the national trend by increasing usage and the executive will consider approving an eight-week consultation on innovative means of building on this success. These are set out in the council’s draft library offer, which would keep library services in all areas open and includes ways that some libraries could open for longer.
The library offer seeks to establish a clear purpose and direction for the library service, providing residents with an understanding of its current contribution to the borough and an expectation of how it might evolve in the coming years. In particular, it focuses on:
- Accessing library services
- Library stock
- Visiting and using library buildings
- Income generation
- Supporting the wider Wokingham Borough Council vision
The library offer also includes plans to open some of libraries for longer by introducing some self-service facilities. Libraries offering self-service would be staffed for some core hours, but offer extended opening hours with self-service and some unstaffed opening. The consultation does not propose moving any library services from any part of the borough.
Executive member for resident services Cllr Pauline Jorgensen said: "Libraries are an important and much-loved part of community that foster a love of books and provide a haven of learning, reading, relaxing and fun for young and old. This is why our proposed library offer enshrines the principle that books are at the heart of our libraries and why it would also mean our most popular libraries would open for longer without increasing our running costs."
If approved, the consultation would seek views on the borough council’s currently preferred option of the library offer from all residents as well as specific stakeholders. This consultation will help the borough council decide whether to implement the library offer.
Cllr Jorgensen added: "If the executive approves, our plan is to seek a wide range of views on the library offer. I am very interested in your views on our proposals and any suggestions you might have; I would encourage you to take the time to comment."