Talks underway over future of libraries

Discussions are underway with a number of interested parties about taking over the running of some of the 11 Liverpool libraries which are under review.

A consultation is beginning as the service seeks to save £2.5 million due to a 58 percent Central Government funding cut.

Under the proposals, 95 percent of people will still live within two miles of a library and the Home Library Service and the RNIB Talking Book Service will not be affected.

The city council would continue to run Central Library – which is used by 45 percent of service users – and seven community libraries: Croxteth, Norris Green, Toxteth, Childwall, Allerton, Garston and Parklands

Discussions are underway over the future of Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree and West Derby libraries.

The libraries which are at risk are those which generally have below average use, high running costs or are in close proximity to another library.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for libraries, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We fully appreciate and understand that people will want to see as many libraries protected as possible, and we are doing everything we possibly can to come up with innovative ways to keep some of them open.

“The sad fact is that Liverpool City Council used to receive £514 million in funding from Central Government, but by 2017 we will have only £264 million. This means making extremely difficult decisions, and we are trying to make sure we protect services for the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and children in care.

“We are in discussions with a number of different organisations, and I am hopeful that we will be able to hand some of the buildings over with some form of retained library service.

“It is also an opportunity to take a fresh look at our libraries service, because we have to accept that the way in which people access libraries has changed over the years due to shifts in the city’s population. There have also been great advances in technology which is why we are expanding our increasingly popular Read Liverpool e-library service.”

A series of further consultation meetings will take place over the next few weeks before a further report is drawn up with a final set of proposals to be considered by the Cabinet later this year.

An initial consultation held earlier this year found that:

• 45 per cent of customers use Central Library, and 40 per cent of those consulted said they would use this library if their local library closed

• The most-used libraries are Central Library, Allerton, Childwall, Garston and Norris Green. Together these libraries account for 57 per cent of the total library use across the city

• 59 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to visit another library if their local one was to close