Staff cuts could be needed to save libraries - The Evesham Observer

Staff cuts could be needed to save libraries

Evesham Editorial 23rd Jul, 2019   0

ALL libraries across Worcestershire will remain open but staff cuts are likely, according to council chiefs.

Library provision was discussed by Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet last Thursday (July 11) after a public consultation into the future of the service carried out between October 2018 and February this year.

The authority announced it needed to make savings of £1million from its libraries by 2020/21, adding to meet the target a new approach was needed to transform the way the service was delivered whilst also promoting wider engagement and use.

Cabinet members said they were delighted there would be no closures but admitted staff cuts were expected as libraries moved towards a more ‘technology-based future’.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, county council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “During the consultation period we listened to the feedback and took it all on board.

“The process is not about closing libraries, we’ve never said that, it’s about having a better, improved library service across the county.

“We will be looking at our staffing levels – for example having single-staffed libraries where only one person is needed to man the library at a time.

“Also improving our technology with Open Plus, and discovering new ways to reduce social isolation and provide safe places for vulnerable people.

“Our plan is to work with different partners to create multi-purpose hubs which are beneficial and useful to our communities.”

The automated Open Plus system, already rolled out in other parts of the country, means libraries could open earlier and for longer periods.

Entry would be via card and pin, with CCTV acting as security and self-service machines and computers replacing the need for staff members.

County council officers visited Open Plus libraries in South Gloucestershire and were pleased with what they saw, which was reflected in their reports.

Coun Alan Amos, said more than £3.9million of efficiency savings had been achieved overall by the council since 2011/2012.

“It’s really not about closing down libraries but instead working out how to make them more relevant, modernising them and keeping up with changing demands.”

Leader of Worcestershire County Council, Coun Simon Geraghty, said: “I want to thank the whole of the council for its efforts getting us to where we are today.

“I’m glad we’re looking at ways of getting more money coming into the service rather than just making saving or reductions.”

The full library strategy will be brought back to Worcestershire County Council in November after implementation plans are in place.


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