Li­braries have vi­tal role in com­mu­nity

In­te­grate other ser­vices to boost fig­ures

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­

THE plan for the fu­ture of the county’s li­braries is to make them the heart of the com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to a li­brary man­ager.

Over­all, the county’s foot­fall fig­ures show the num­ber of vis­i­tors through the li­brary doors fell from 1,658,769 in 2013 to 1,560,239 in 2014.

Mr Jones said: “We may have seen book is­sues de­crease, na­tion­ally it’s some­thing like 12 per cent de­cline in vis­its and 20 per cent in is­sues, and re­duc­tions in open­ing hours, but in Bucks we have a strong ser­vice. “It’s been a rocky jour­ney but I think we can be proud.”

All coun­cils have to pro­vide a li­brary ser­vice, un­der the 1964 Act but it is vague as to what this con­sti­tutes.

“Many have cut back ser­vices, or re­duced hours, so it’s the min­i­mum and some county’s have had to have Gov­ern­ment in­ter­vene,” Mr Jones said. “We haven’t done that.” De­spite this li­brary ser­vices man­ager David Jones has said Bucks is prov­ing re­silient.

He added while many feel the fu­ture is in ebooks, he felt it was bet­ter placed in putting libaries at the cen­tre of the com­mu­nity.

He said: “Peo­ple may not use them as much but they get up­set if they hear it is be­ing closed. There’s a real at­tach­ment to them.”

Mr Jones added be­cause of this they could be ‘hubs,’ chang­ing how they are used and viewed.

He said: “They pro­vide the per­fect plat­form for meet­ing places, and other ser­vices. We can in­te­grate other ser­vices, for ex­am­ple if we looked at us­ing them for dis­trict coun­cil ser­vices we could is­sue park­ing per­mits from them.”

Po­lice, chil­dren’s com­mu­nity groups char­i­ties al­ready use li­braries as a base.

Men­tal health char­ity Healthy Minds has also started work­ing with mo­bile li­braries, us­ing them as a meet­ing point for ther­a­peu­tic ses­sions.

Com­puter use is another way libaries in­tend to ex­pand on.

Across Buck­ing­hamshire there has been an almost 50 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of county-run li­brary vis­i­tors who made use of the com­puter fa­cil­i­ties and sought help from li­brary staff - up to 12,000 a month in 2014, com­pared with an av­er­age 8,000 the pre­vi­ous year. cen­tres,

and some

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