Bath & North East Somerset Council has today (Tuesday 11 July) outlined its plans for the final in a series of consultations surrounding its intention to integrate the Library and One Stop Shop in Bath.
The aim is to combine library and customer services in Bath to reach more people from all ages and backgrounds, providing a place where everyone in the community can access support, knowledge, culture and events to help them reach their full potential.
The Council has been listening to the views of the community and is now consulting on the location of the joined up service. It has identified two viable locations from the five original options that can deliver the full range of library and One Stop Shop services. These are Lewis House in Manvers Street and The Podium in Northgate Street.
As part of developing the business case the Council looked at five options for the location – doing nothing, integrating in a purpose-built facility, integrating at Lewis House, integrating in The Podium and integrating in The Guildhall.
The remaining three options have been fully assessed and ruled out due to a combination of lack of availability, high cost or building constraints and access.
Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We know that people feel very passionately about both library and one stop shop services and we have listened to those views following the first consultation about the principles of what an integrated space for both services might look like.
“I would like to reiterate that no decisions have been made at this stage. The Council does not have a preference and retains an open mind on how the combined service in Bath will look and feel and which of the two viable options is chosen. The views of members of the public will inform and shape the Council’s decision on the location.
“Officers originally put forward Lewis House as the location for the joined up service in Bath as it met a number of national best practice guidelines. This included having a visible high street presence and being close to the main transport hubs. The Council also owns the building which would enable it to guarantee its future use. However, the views of the community have allowed the Council to reconsider its position.
“It will be brought to Cabinet to approve the site location and the capital required. When the design process starts, we will ask a cross section of the community to work with us.”
The consultation, a full comparison of the two locations and the business case will be available online via the Council’s websitewww.bathnes.gov.uk and copies will also be available in all libraries throughout Bath and North East Somerset.
The consultation will run from Thursday 20 July until Friday 15 September.
B&NES lists what it thinks are the benefits of an integrated service
A combined service gives visitors convenient access to a wide range of useful services, including library services, Council customer services, and the services provided by our partner and voluntary organisations, in one well-designed, modern space, supported by free Wi-Fi and up-to-date PCs and technology.
The proposals include plenty of books on shelves for borrowing and great spaces for children’s activities, cultural events and exhibitions.
The final design will depend on the outcome of the consultations but the vision for the integration of services is both physical and cultural:
- A single integrated safe space providing access to information, support and signposting for the whole community
- A place providing digital access and encouraging digital literacy with self-service facilities and free use of computers for training or self-use.
- Books and other items for borrowing to increase literacy and encourage the love of reading
- Spaces for workshops, events and exhibitions for cultural and creative enrichment
- Safe dedicated areas for children, young people and families for reading, study and play
- Experienced staff on hand, as well as partner, voluntary and third sector organisations, to help people find the services they need and improve their wellbeing
- Comfortable spaces for reading, study or working, helping everyone achieve their full potential through learning and access to information