'More than Books' – a sustainable future for Gwynedd Library Service

Date 05/09/2016

‘More than Books’ – a sustainable future for Gwynedd Library Service

A report will be presented to Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet on 13 September proposing changes to ensure a sustainable and long term future for the county’s Library Service.

 The work of developing the new strategy for the library service has began since December 2014, and the Council has consulted with the public and its partners since this stage. 

 The ‘More than Books’ strategy which will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet will set an objective of maintaining an efficient and comprehensive library Service for the people of Gwynedd that will be within reach to anyone wishing to use the service, while simultaneously meeting National requirements at a time where money available to sustain services is decreasing.

 In order to accomplish this and to be able to continue offering this for the future, changes must be introduced to the service. The strategy recommends that the people of Gwynedd should be able to access the service through the following methods:

 Area Libraries – intention of hosting nine area libraries in: Barmouth, Bangor, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Porthmadog, Pwllheli, Tywyn and Y Bala. The Council would look at these libraries’ opening hours and possibly consider altering times to suit the needs.

Mobile Library – there would be three different types of mobile libraries which will continue to be available. These are: Mobile Libraries for Rural Communities, mobile library service to the home (for people who are unable to visit the library building because of a disability or medical condition) and the Children and Young People Mobile Library (Lori Ni). The Council will consider where these vehicles stop and alter to suit the needs. 

Community Libraries – The Council will work with four local communities to establish Community Libraries at Bethesda, Penygroes, Criccieth and Nefyn. Gwynedd Council would continue to provide the same library service within these communities, but by sharing the building with other partners. Again, the Council would consider these libraries’ opening hours and possibly amend to suit users’ needs.

Community Links – would be established in those areas where it is recommended that the Council does not continue to  provide a library building, which would be Llanberis, Deiniolen, Penrhyndeudraeth and Harlech communities – providing an opportunity to collect books chosen and ordered online.

Councillor Ioan Thomas, Cabinet Member for Gwynedd Council with responsibility for Libraries said:

 “Whilst accepting that any change is difficult, the review held clearly indicates that continuing to provide the library service at its present form is unsustainable.

 “A combination of the changing needs and expectations of local people, the growing popularity of digital and online material and the expectations of the Welsh Government that councils modernise their provision within a period of drastic cuts in the funding available to services, means that introducing change is inevitable.

 “We appreciate that any change to services which is so close to many people’s hearts, and that hasn’t encountered change for many years, is challenging. But by listening carefully to what local people had to say during the public consultation, I believe that what is now being proposed is the best model possible in order to provide a modern and sustainable service for Gwynedd for the coming years.

 “By recommending a model where there will be reductions in opening hours within area libraries, changing the way some community library buildings are managed, introducing modifications to the Community Mobile Service and establishing community links, we hope the library or an access to a library service will continue to be available for all Gwynedd citizens.

 “We have discussed the strategy with partners, including community and town councils, and if the Cabinet agree we will be continuing discussions over the coming months as we move forward towards the new arrangement. I would like to thank them for their willingness to discuss and work with us to identify new solutions to offer a sustainable library service for the future for all of the county’s citizens. “

 If the proposals are accepted by the Council’s Cabinet, changes will begin to be implemented from October 2016 onwards, with all changes in place during 2017.

 The ‘More than Books’ strategy will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on 13 September.