The strategy was developed following engagement with more than 500 people including library users, staff and volunteers, community groups and residents. It features a number of specific proposals, including:
- Maintaining provision of 16 branch libraries, and seeking ways of making improvements to them all
- Modernising Central Library, improving the environment in response to feedback from customers, and exploring the creation of a wider City Learning Quarter with the City of Wolverhampton College and Adult Education Wolverhampton
- Reviewing the location of Bilston Library to improve accessibility.
The strategy seeks to ensure that Wolverhampton’s libraries are vibrant, welcoming and safe places to visit, study and enjoy and that, wherever possible, libraries are co-located with other services to increase accessibility and convenience for customers.
It also envisages that libraries will host an increasing number of events which support reading and literacy, help people develop their skills and employability and improve their health and wellbeing.
At the same time, self-service facilities will be improved, enabling libraries to be open for longer, there will be more opportunities for people to volunteer within their local library, and increased investment in digital technology like ebooks and talking books and extra income generating opportunities, such as room hire.
Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “We know that our libraries are highly valued by local residents, and over the last few months we have been developing ideas to improve the service we provide in Wolverhampton.
“This 10-year strategy is designed to meet changing demands from library customers. For instance, we know that, while the number of book loans from our libraries is falling, more and more people are coming into our libraries to use PCs and access the internet, to develop their skills and apply for jobs, to attend events and activities or to access support services.
“We believe this strategy will ensure our 16-strong library network is fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of customers, now and in the future, and we want to hear what people think of our plans.”
The City of Wolverhampton Council’s draft Libraries Strategy for 2017-27, along with full details of the consultation, can be seen at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/mylibraryservice.
People can have their say in a number of ways, including by attending one of a number of public events taking place next month. They include sessions at Bilston Library, Mount Pleasant, on Wednesday 22 March at 6pm, Bantock House, Finchfield Road, on Thursday 23 March at 6pm and Wednesfield Library, Well Lane, on Saturday 25 March at 10am. To book a place at one of these sessions, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/mylibraryservice, call 01902 552025 or ask at your local library.
People can also have their say by completing an online survey available at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/mylibraryservice. Hard copies of the survey are available by calling 01902 552025 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The consultation runs for 12 weeks until Sunday 21 May, 2017. All feedback received will be analysed and help shape the final libraries strategy, which is due to be considered by councillors in July.