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Surrey Aims to ‘Breathe New Life’ Into County’s 52 Public Libraries

Published on: 24 Nov, 2019
Updated on: 26 Nov, 2019

Guildford Library in North Street

The county council is planning to revamp Surrey’s 52 public libraries and are inviting local communities to work closely with them over 12 to 18 months to update and expand the services available.

“Libraries aren’t just bricks and mortar,” said Dave Hill, county director of Children, Families, Lifelong learning and Culture. “They offer a service to a community and that service will work best when it’s shaped in collaboration with that community.

“But the number of people visiting libraries simply to borrow books is falling and we know that events and activities in libraries attract more people. Our plans are to work with communities, to shape a new library service that works for them.

“That will help halt this decline and breathe new life into our libraries.

”We don’t want to stop the provision of library services. We might move locations and we might shape things differently but ultimately we want to keep the library services accessible.”

The council also wants communities to help them explore ways of maximising use of technology to ensure the library service is fit for the future. Digital swipe cards could extend opening hours, giving early-morning and after-work library access to suit working people.

Click and collect services could ensure users of smaller library spaces still have access to the full range of books and can collect and return them at convenient places.

The council plans to invest in some of Surrey’s largest libraries to offer a Library Plus service, co-locating other services there. Using libraries as platforms for other services allows residents to access valuable services in the same location.

Many other libraries will stay in their present locations, but with increased focus on offering services and activities which attract new users.

The council will engage with local communities across each district and borough to continue to explore relocating some less well-used and smaller libraries to community spaces, ensuring they provide the services and activities the community needs.

Ten libraries in Surrey are already run and managed successfully by community partners with support from library staff and dedicated volunteers. Embracing working with communities will help bring them closer to how their services are developed and enable them to influence the way they’re delivered.

This story is based on a Surrey County Council Press Release.

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