Bath & North East Somerset [B&NES] Council has published the results of recent consultations, along with a comprehensive Question and Answer document detailing its aspiration to integrate its library and One-Stop-Shop services in Bath and Midsomer Norton.
More than 600 responses were received regarding the proposals which will help to save £800,000 per year after 2019/20 and after an initial investment. B&NES Council needs to save £37 million over the next three years to balance its budget.
The Council’s vision is a combined service which gives people convenient access to a wide range of useful services, including libraries, customer services and the services provided by partner organisations, in a well-designed, modern space, supported by high-speed Wi-Fi and up-to-date PCs and technology.
No decisions on the final outcome have been made.
Survey forms were available online and printed copies were available from libraries and One-Stop-Shops in Bath and Midsomer Norton for members of the public to complete.
The results show that people would like services which focus primarily on young families, events, a wide selection of books and new technology. There is also a desire for Council customer services and other partners.
· A wide selection of books on shelves to browse and borrow, including the latest bestsellers, and the ability to check quickly if a book/resource is available, are considered priorities for the majority of respondents.
· 71% of people think easy access to shelves, adequate space between shelves and better signage are important.
· 80% of people in Bath and 94% of people in Midsomer Norton agree that it is important to provide a separate and safe area for children and families with a wide selection of children’s books and materials.
· Around 90% of people want knowledgeable staff to be on hand to help and also want tables to work at.
· There is a desire for access to a wider range of services. For example, 25% of all respondents in Bath and 47% in Midsomer Norton want to be able to apply for a bus pass. A third of people in Midsomer Norton want the convenience of being able to report pot holes.
· The majority of people recognise the importance of improving technology and photocopiers, whilst continuing to provide PCs and improved free high-speed WiFi.
A spokesperson for Bath & North East Somerset Council said: “We know people feel very passionately about their library services and we are listening to all the feedback we have received so far and will continue to listen throughout this process. We welcome the responses we have received to these consultations, which focused on the design and layout of combined libraries and One-Stop-Shop facilities.
“We know that bringing these services together can work really well, as we have already achieved this in Keynsham where the number of active library users has increased, bucking the national downward trend.”
No decisions have been made and will not be made until after all of the consultations have been completed. Feedback will be fully listened to and considered by the Council’s Cabinet. Local people have recently been consulted on the proposals for integrating the overlapping customer facing services of our libraries and One Stop Shops in Bath and Midsomer Norton. There are no plans to close either library.
Over the summer the Council will publish a summary of the business case with options for design, layout and location for the library in central Bath, and this will be subject to further consultation and engagement with users and the wider community. The final design will depend on a full needs analysis as part of the business case.
The Council is reviewing the results of the consultation for Midsomer Norton, before taking any further steps.
To find out more about the proposals and to view the results of the consultation visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/modernlibrary. Printed copies of the Question and Answer document are available in Bath and Midsomer Norton libraries and One Stop Shops.