Bristol City Council launch library consultation

Bristol City Council has launched a city-wide consultation to allow the people of Bristol to have their say on the future of the city’s libraries.
They really want and need everyone to get involved and share their ideas and suggestions on how to develop an improved flexible, modern space for communities to learn and socialise in.

Mayor George Ferguson launched the new consultation website during his State of the City address.

He said: “Our libraries are treasured traditional institutions which are fundamental in developing language, literacy, skills and community cohesion.

“This is not a closed consultation but an open conversation. We need to look at how we can reach more people with a better service in a time of limited resources.

“It will be the first stage of a city-wide effort to collect ideas and suggestions on how to develop an improved flexible, modern space for communities to learn and socialise in – one that serves the vast majority of citizens, not just 10% or so.

“We want to get back to fundamentals – what are libraries for and how can they meet our needs in the 21st century?”

The website will allow members of the public to express their views on the current library service, as well as gather suggestions for what they would like to see in the future.

There will also be meetings held at libraries and Neighbourhood Partnerships throughout the city.

At this stage they have no proposals and no decisions have been made. They want to involve all the citizens of Bristol in designing a new library service

Bristol libraries provide an inclusive service through a network of 28 libraries.  Our libraries are well-loved and highly-valued by those who use them and often even those who do not use them are very vocal in their support.

The challenge here in Bristol is that the numbers of people actively using our libraries for their traditional purpose is very low. There are many different ways of measuring who uses a library and why, but the key point is that what we provide in many of our libraries is not necessarily relevant to the vast majority of our citizens.

Councillor Gus Hoyt, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, added: “What we want to achieve in Bristol is a vibrant and sustainable network of libraries, which will better respond to the needs of more of our citizens, particularly those in our city who experience more challenges and have less access to opportunities.

“We’ll be out in your communities talking about libraries and finding out what you like and what might be missing.

“There will be plenty of opportunities to go along to a meeting at your local library or neighbourhood forum and you can give us your views and suggestions on libraries at which is now live.”

While savings have to be made, it is important that this opportunity to have a conversation as a city is not only dominated by the budget reduction. We need to have a conversation which helps us realise what our communities want and need from libraries and spot opportunities with partners and communities for developing new approaches.

The feedback gathered from this consultation will be used to shape the council’s Bristol Libraries for the Future proposals which are earmarked to be discussed at Cabinet in March 2015, when a second consultation will begin until May 2015.

The final plan is expected to be agreed in June 2015 so that work can then start on the new service.

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