Public invited to help shape the future of local library services

Residents across Redcar and Cleveland are being asked for their views on library provision in the area, to help shape the future of the service.

The publics views are being sought to understand in more detail how they use libraries, if they don’t use libraries what would encourage them to use them in the future, what libraries mean to them and their thoughts on how the service could be developed.

The council currently operates 13 libraries across Redcar and Cleveland, offering a wide range of books, computer access, and online resources, as well as hosting regular events, clubs and meetings.

Even before the pandemic there were significant changes in the ways that local library services were used; with falling user numbers and the ever-increasing popularity of digital lending, which can be accessed anywhere, the service must evolve to remain cost-effective and meet the needs of local people.

Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Culture, Cllr Louise Westbury, said:

“As part of a review of library services across Redcar and Cleveland we are keen to hear from residents, both library users and non-library users, to ensure the public continue to receive a service that meets their needs and the needs of the community.

“The council cannot ignore the financial pressures we face and factor these into the engagement exercise. Library services like other public services affected by the reduction in Government grants will need to make efficiency savings and the publics input is important when making these difficult decisions.

“The feedback will allow the council to shape a library offer that is fit for the 21st Century with the services, activities and programmes reflecting the needs of local residents.”

The public engagement exercise begins today, Wednesday 8 February and will run for eight weeks, closing on Wednesday 5 April. There will be two versions of the questionnaire available, one for library users and one for people who don’t currently use the library service.

Residents can complete the questionnaire online or pick up a printed version from any library in the borough.

To enable the public to share their views and ask questions regarding the engagement exercise and the future of library services, the council are also hosting a series of focus group sessions in March, in partnership with an external facilitator, which will be publicised nearer the time.