Libraries have vital role in community
Integrate other services to boost figures
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,