The decision to close a library or reduce library services is never an easy one to make. Local authorities have many factors to weigh in deciding how much they can afford to spend on the services they provide for local people, especially in such a challenging financial environment. Library services all over the country are supporting these processes by finding new and more efficient ways to buy books and deliver services; by working in partnership with other parts of the public sector to support their customers in accessing services through the library network; and by developing innovative and forward looking plans for library services for the future. In some authorities it will be appropriate to review existing networks of libraries that were designed for an earlier time when peoples’ lives were very different and the wealth of online library services were not available.
However, SCL believes that councils need to keep in mind the long-term benefits that library users receive like improved literacy, digital and other skills for life; stronger ties to their local communities and better quality of life. Libraries deliver these benefits in a very cost effective way and in so doing are supporting economic recovery and community wellbeing.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service and SCL believes that changes to local library services should be forward looking, based on real and current needs, and should follow comprehensive public consultation.
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