The futures of five Southampton community libraries have been announced by Southampton City Council. The list of organisations set to take over the running of some of the city’s libraries is made up of a mix of long established organisations and newly formed community groups, all dedicated to offering good local community involvement and support.
The following groups will soon take over the running of the following libraries:
The Burgess Road Library Action Group (in partnership with Christ Church Southampton, a locally based charity) will provide library services from Burgess Road Library.
Thornhill Community Library, a newly formed local charity group, will continue to provide library services from Thornhill Library.
The YMCA, a local community charity that has been serving the city since 1878, will provide a community library in the new unit when it is completed in Weston, in the meantime services will continue from the portacabin.
SCA and Unexpected Places, two not for profit organisations in partnership with the Friends of Cobbett Road Library are teaming up to continue to offer library facilities from Cobbett Road Library.
In Millbrook, the library resources will be moved into the Solent NHS Trust Pickles Coppice Children’s Centre where the Sure Start Service is based.
Following a 2015 review of library services, Southampton City Council’s Cabinet voted to secure the future of five of its community libraries by seeking new operators. Community and charitable groups were invited to make expressions of interest to the council and put forward proposals to take the libraries forward. After careful consideration the decisions have been approved for four of the libraries by the council. Work will now begin to transfer key assets across to the selected organisations.
Working with local community groups allows us to ensure that all communities that currently have a library building will continue to receive library services in their locality. The new community libraries will open for the similar number of hours as before but opening times may differ, the details have still to be finalised. To help customers during the transition, anyone that takes a book out of any of the affected libraries after Saturday 5 March 2016 will be given more time to return it.
The books will still remain part of the whole city wide collection with many of the library systems remaining the same. People will still be able to reserve and renew books in all the libraries and access similar services across all of the sites. Free internet access will remain in all libraries and customers need not change their library card to use their local library.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Leisure said:
“Last year we made a commitment to transform the library service in Southampton and keep all library buildings open. This announcement shows we have delivered on this commitment and marks a major milestone in our journey to ensure a sustainable future for all library buildings in our city. Southampton City Council has worked with local communities, organisations and partner agencies to ensure a long-term sustainable future for our libraries. Unlike many other local authorities, despite severe budget cuts, no library buildings will be closing in Southampton.
“I would like to personally thank everyone who expressed an interest and engaged with us during this process, though most notably local communities for working together with organisations to ensure best outcomes. We remain committed to these community hubs and will continue to work with the new operators. I am excited about their potential and ability to enhance these community facilities to enrich the communities they service.