People invited to have their say on next chapter for developing West Northants’ Library ServiceLibraries
12 July 2023
People will be invited to have their say on the next chapter for developing the Library Service across West Northants following a decision at yesterday’s (11 July) Cabinet meeting.
Residents will be able to share their views on a new 4-year draft strategy which sets out 7 priority areas for public libraries, including:
- Increased reading and literacy
- Cultural and creative enrichment
- Improved digital access and literacy
- Healthier and happier lives
- Helping everyone achieve their full potential
- Greater prosperity
- Stronger and more resilient communities
The Library Service Strategy will cover 2023 to 2027 and build on previous work to make libraries hubs for local communities from which a range of services, information and support can be accessed. It considers the post-pandemic landscape and the resulting behavioural changes of residents and needs of the communities, as well as opportunities to work in partnership with the new community managed libraries to provide services locally.
Proposals include expanding existing reading offers through a range of reading initiatives such as Rhyme Times for pre-schoolers and the Reading Friends scheme which helps tackle social isolation, and working closely with the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to provide opportunities for people to explore culture and creativity by bringing cultural and heritage exhibitions to libraries in Brackley, Towcester, Daventry and Weston Favell as well as providing opportunities for local communities to create their own exhibitions.
The strategy also details how libraries’ unique position of being neutral, safe, trusted, and non-judgemental spaces enables them to support the Integrated Care Northamptonshire Strategy “Live your best life” ambitions, which includes opportunities for self-help as well as community level social prescribing and the promotion of key Public Health messages and campaigns to a wide audience.
Currently, WNC’s statutory library service is made up of 9 council run libraries, a 24/7 online library service, a school library service and a Library to You home library service which delivers to housebound customers. The Council also supports 9 Community Managed Libraries who extend the library services outside of the statutory provision and are valued key stakeholders and community-based delivery partners.
All responses following the consultation, which is planned to begin in September, will be considered and will help to shape a final version of the strategy to then be considered by West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet this autumn.
In recent years West Northamptonshire Libraries have been through a period of significant transformation against a challenging background of events, however they continue to act as a cornerstone to our communities, providing knowledge, information and resources and acting as connectors which help to improve wellbeing - particularly mental health.Cllr Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of WNC and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure
This strategy sets out how we propose to continue to develop our libraries as thriving community hubs over the next 4 years, ensuring that we take advantage of every opportunity to help deliver on our council priorities and the 10 Integrated Care Northamptonshire Strategy Live Your Best Life ambitions.
It is vital that we hear the views of residents in order to best shape our Library Service and ensure it meets the needs of users. I strongly encourage everyone to share their ideas and help us to deliver a service which benefits the whole community.
The strategy follows the Libraries for living, and for living better report, which has been published following research by the University of East Anglia presenting evidence that Libraries in England generate at least £3.4bn in value each year through services supporting children’s literacy, digital inclusion and health and wellbeing. The report also suggests that a typical library branch provides services worth £1million each year and that libraries’ value could equate to six times their running costs.