Southend: Plans To Change Library Services

There are plans to change the way libraries in Southend are run in a move that'll save the council almost £400,000 pounds in the next three years.

The council say 'the plans aim to meet the changing needs of library users, to involve the community more directly in operating local branch libraries, and help meet a £378,000 budget cut over the next three years.'

The proposals are:

  • Southend will get a new main central library (opening in September).
  • Branch libraries are to be concentrated into two hubs - one for the east of the town and one for the West.
  • The East library hub would be established on a site in Delaware Road, Shoeburyness, from an amalgamation of the existing Thorpedene and Friars Libraries.
  • The West Library hub would be based at either Kent Elms Library or Leigh Library.
  • The library which did not form the West hub - in addition to Southchurch and Westcliff libraries - would then be offered to voluntary groups as a Community Library.
  • In Community Libraries, the Council would still provide the building, the books, computer access and management support, but the libraries themselves would be staffed by volunteers, who could embrace a greater range activities too and work with other organisations.
  • A 24-hour virtual library would also be developed.
  • Changes would be made to extend existing mobile library and the home library services.
  • Pop-up libraries would also be installed at various locations.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Executive Councillor for Culture and Tourism, Councillor Derek Jarvis said: "We are committed to providing and developing excellent library services for the borough, and this was at the forefront of our minds as we drew up these recommendations.
"However, we also had to face the constraints of the ongoing very difficult financial climate.
"Residents and stakeholders were very keen indeed to take part in the review - more than 2,000 people responded to the consultation - which shows how vitally important they consider our libraries to be.
"As a result, we feel community groups may jump at the chance to run Community Libraries where they could present other community activities too.
"Some have already expressed interest in doing so, and we know these have proved successful in other parts of the country.
"If our recommendations are approved, we will be inviting groups to submit a formal case to us, showing how they would plan to operate such Libraries."
The plans will be considered by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 19th March, and there will be a further three-month consultation to allow people to have their say on the proposals.
Views will be fed into a final report to be considered by Cabinet in September.

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