Hampshire County Council have issued a Draft Strategy for the Library Service. This Strategy includes an online questionnaire, actively seeking the public’s views on the proposals.
Hampshire County Council have been sending emails notifying people of the Strategy to those who are registered with the Hampshire Library Service.
The Draft Strategy covers the period up to 2020 (frighteningly not that far away).
— Hampshire County C (@hantsconnect) November 2, 2015
The more people who can respond to the questionnaire, the better and more accurate feedback the Council will receive so I would urge all who can to do this.
Simply go to this link: Vision and Strategy for Hampshire Library and Information Service and share your views.
I outline the proposals in this post, plus my own thoughts about them. I hope we can get a good discussion going on Chandler’s Ford Today but would reiterate how important it is that as many as possible fill in the actual questionnaire. Hampshire County Council must be in no doubt as to what we think!
I have completed the questionnaire, which doesn’t take long to do, and am glad to report there are opportunities to put in your own comments and explain your views.
It isn’t just a tick box form (which I’d have been very unhappy with as it is a crude way of getting feedback. I’ve always found with a lot of these things you sometimes get questions where you want to tick more than one option but are not always allowed to do so. I much prefer the comments box and make good use of it! Whether those on the receiving end appreciate that is another matter, however!).
The Council feel because people use the library services in a different way now than to when the libraries first opened, they need to look at what the future of the service should be and feel there is a need for change. They do add that they expect to have to save money but this is not the only reason for the change. (I think we can all make up our own minds on that one!).
I list the basic changes proposed below and give my responses. I was only too glad to fill in the questionnaire to have my say as my attitude in my responses would tell you I think.
To put the libraries into 4 different tiers to provide a standardised approach to services.
Chandler’s Ford library would be in Tier 1 which provides the greatest range of services.
Tier 3 would be for a small town with a smaller library and the idea would be for it to open on fewer days.
Invest £500,000 annually for four years from the £2 million Book Fund to make libraries modern and vibrant, making best use of new technology and digital systems.
There is a strong case for the use of technology but I would argue libraries just need to be libraries. And ultimately they are about books. Take away the Book Fund, you take away the core reason for a library’s existence.
Permanently reduce the Book Fund by £500,000 from 2020 onwards.
I don’t much care when they bring this in. All I know is this is wrong on so many levels. The libraries need books to replace worn out stock, to give local authors a voice and to have a good selection across a wide range of genres, including non-fiction.
Review the costly mobile library service and investigate modern alternatives.
There is an idea to have a Home Library Service with trained and vetted staff to go to individuals, mainly the house bound of course, who cannot get to a library.
That is a good idea but I’ve also stated I think they could also use smaller buses (cheaper to run, okay range of books won’t be so great but I accept I can’t have everything) or have the buses they already have serve wider areas. They could reduce the number of buses then.
Review the future viability of static libraries, using an agreed set of criteria.
In other words, close the ones that don’t get public support. Only answer is for us to support all of them!
Increase the use of trained volunteers to support the work of paid Library staff.
Not a bad idea as long as there are no redundancies in Library staff as a result. Volunteers should be a complement, not a cheap substitute.
Rebrand out busiest libraries as Discovery Centres in Winchester.
No, no, no! How much money would rebranding cost? Didn’t Hampshire County Council see what happened when Royal Mail became Consignia? That was a costly flop.
Leave the libraries as they are. The money planned for rebranding should be spent on the Book Fund. This idea is change for the sake of change and is a dreadful idea.
Discover Centre is something I would associate, say, with the likes of InTech, just outside Winchester, the interactive science place. Besides which everybody knows what a library is. This idea is change for change’s sake and not for the better in my view.
Develop our library staff.
I’m not sure how exactly they’d do this though training in technology is the main thing that sprang to my mind here and is a good idea.
Share library buildings with partner organisations for several services to be accessed in one visit.
Good idea as long as the organisations are appropriate and the library is literally not drowned out.
Phase a withdrawal of poorly used library collections (e.g. DVDs, CDs, games) and transfer other specialist collections to other providers.
Not sure I see the point. If the libraries have these things, they may as well keep them. I can’t believe these cost that much to house.
Share your views: Future of our libraries
To give your views on their Strategy, the questionnaire is available via the Library Service web page.
Paper questionnaires are available from Hampshire libraries or mobile libraries.
The consultation lasts from 2nd November 2015 to 16th January 2016.
Whether you agree with my views above or not, I would urge as many as possible to respond to this questionnaire. The more feedback Hampshire County Council has the better.
It may also be the only way to save our libraries.
As for cutting back… the library service is a genuinely good thing, meeting the needs of many different sections of society so, to quote the phrase, “what ain’t broke don’t need fixing”!
I remember years ago not long after leaving college and just before getting my first job, going to my local library a lot. Why? They had free newspapers so I could look up jobs and apply for them. Also it was a cheap form of entertainment. I read there for a while before taking out a couple of other books to peruse at home.
Libraries are wonderful places. They do need developing, the use of technology is a good idea, but they don’t need a complete overhaul. My fear is that, metaphorically speaking, the baby will be thrown out with the bathwater and that would be a great shame.
Hampshire County Council, don’t destroy the libraries, please. The intention isn’t there but could it come about accidentally? Yes, I think so.
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