Somerset County Council (SCC) has said that more than 1,500 people have registered their views about the future of the library service in the Wellington area since the launch of the consultation process.
Those who attended the drop-in at Wellington Library on Saturday 17th February were provided with information about the two options under review. Option a) proposes to provision of library services either through a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building or by delivering outreach libaray services which would mean the closure of the current library building. Option b) is to make no change to existing library services.
The rationale for proposing each the two options is as follows:
Although Wellington library is fairly well-used and provides good value for money, it serves a population which generally has good access to an alternative library building in Taunton, both by public transport, community transport and road travel. A high proportion of the catchment population are likely to make regular visits to Taunton town centre for retail and leisure purposes, and usage of Taunton library is relatively high amongst the catchment population. Establishing a community library partnership to support the current library building, or delivering library services through alternative library outreach and mobile delivery models could reduce costs quite significantly, making a significant contribution to the objective of putting the library service on a sustainable financial footing.
Although access to Taunton is reasonable from Wellington, there is a large population currently living within walking distance of Wellington library and public transport costs to Taunton are high. There are also some neighbourhoods within Wellington that have relatively high levels of need. lf a community library partnership could not be established to maintain a library building in Wellington, the provision of library outreach services and a mobile library service would go some way to mitigating the impact on people currently using Wellington library. However, there could still be a relatively significant impact on some groups. Although Wellington library is relatively costly, it provides good value for money, and is well-supported by a proactive friends group.
Those who have not yet registered their views about the future of the library have until 22nd April to do so.
A spokesperson from SCC said, “The Libraries Consultation is running for 12 weeks until 22 April. Please do make people aware that their views may be given up to this date. No decision has been or will be made until all consultation responses have been analysed after the 22 April.
Ways to give consultation feedback:
– Full details of the proposals being consulted on can be found online at
http://www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation and a link from there labelled ‘Have your Say Questionnaire’ goes to the online questionnaire.
– Details and paper questionnaires can be found at each library (please ask our staff) for those not wishing to use the online facility.
– Queries and feedback can also be emailed to Librariesmail@somerset.gov.uk for answering or logging respectively.”
Once the consultation process is completed the results will be analysed and decisions about the future of the library service across the area announced in June.