Looks like our last chance coming up to have any influence on where Bath’s Central Library moves to.
Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet has approved proposals for the final in a series of consultations surrounding its intention to integrate the Library and One Stop Shop in Bath.
Having said that – they only offer a choice of two sites – and say that leaving the library where it is would rob them of a saving of £400,000 a year.
A press release states: “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. At the same time, integrating these services in Bath will help save up to £400,000 a year as part of the Council’s wider Modern Libraries programme, which is expected to save a total of £800,000 a year.
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 Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The Cabinet has met and approved the next phase of the consultation process and we are keen for as many people as possible to give us their feedback. I am pleased that we have been able to put forward a choice to residents for the location of a combined Library and One Stop Shop, both of which can deliver a full range of library and One Stop Shop services.
Cllr Warren added: “Whilst other Councils are closing libraries, we are looking for innovative ways to protect our library service and put it onto a sustainable long-term footing whilst at the same time delivering the savings we need to make.
“By integrating our Library and One Stop Shop services we can both improve the service we offer residents and ensure it is sustainable for the future. Integrating these services in Bath will help save up to up to £400,000 a year whilst protecting and enhancing all the services residents value. Alongside the integration of the Midsomer Norton Library and our wider Modern Libraries programme, this will help us save £800,000 a year whilst safeguarding this valued service.
“The consultation runs for just over eight weeks to ensure that as many residents as possible have time to respond. At this stage, no decisions have been made on the location of the new service. Once the final location has been agreed, we will ask a cross section of the community to work with us on developing the design so that it meets the needs of users of both services.”
The Council will be working with a cross section of the community to improve the inclusivity of the service and encourage many people particularly from lower incomes, who traditionally make less use of library facilities, to come forward to make increasing use of the library.
The consultation, a full comparison of the two locations and the business case is available online via the Council’s website www.bathnes.gov.uk/modernlibrary and copies are available in all libraries and One Stop Shops throughout Bath and North East Somerset.
The consultation will run from Thursday 20 July until Friday 15 September.
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 well-being
- Comfortable spaces for reading, study or working, helping everyone achieve their full potential through learning and access to information.”