Shaping the future of libraries in Northumberland

Five hubs are to be created to shape the future of library services in Northumberland.Five hubs are to be created to shape the future of library services in Northumberland.
Five hubs are to be created to shape the future of library services in Northumberland.
Thousands of people have had their say on helping shape the county’s library services.

An extensive consultation between December 2019 and March 2020 saw more than 5,000 people, both library members and non-members, take part.

Now Northumberland County Council is using the robust consultation to build a library service to meet the current and future needs of residents, developing a strategy for delivery.

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Key findings of the survey showed that 88 per cent rated the service as either excellent or good, 34 per cent visit the library as part of their daily or weekly routine, 1 in 10 library users access computers or the internet at the library, and 85 per cent see the library as a space the community can use.

Building on the findings of the consultation a redesign of the service was approved by the County Council’s Cabinet to establish five Hub Libraries, serving each locality area.

These would be based at Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Hexham and Morpeth. Each hub would have flexible community space, offer the full range of IT resources and an events programme suited to the area.

As well as the hub libraries it is also proposed the service will further improve its digital offer.

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Self-service kiosks will now also be rolled out into more libraries, a project which had to be delayed due to Covid-19.

Coun Jeff Watson, cabinet member with responsibility for Libraries, said: “The extensive consultation we carried out last year has given us a clear view of what people and staff value most about the service.

“We know for many people the library service is integral to their day-to-day life and this has been demonstrated even more acutely during the pandemic with staff continuing to play an important role in helping to make communities feel connected.

“The findings of the consultation will now help us shape the service and put resources into the elements which came out strongest in the consultation, which was that the library service remains an important and valued part of the community.

“The establishment of the library hubs will allow us to better co-ordinate what provision is needed in each area.”