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Cooperative Council, Culture, Leisure

Literature with a latte – is this the future for Lambeth libraries?

Coffee shops could open in libraries and residents could combine borrowing a book with a trip to the doctor, under wide ranging ideas being considered to attract more people to Lambeth’s libraries.

These are just some of the ideas that Lambeth’s Libraries Commission has been exploring. The Commission, which was set up in April, has been asking residents and library experts how the council can deliver a library service that will be used by more people but cost less money Cllr Florence Nosegbe, Cabinet member for Culture, who is chairing the Commission, explains: “We have received lots of emails from residents about their ideas for the future of Lambeth’s libraries and I know how important they are to people. This is not just about a balancing the books, if a service is under used we need to know why and address that to ensure residents get value for money. This Commission is an honest discussion about what we can do to increase users and ensure a sustainable future for our libraries. I urge everyone to get involved in the Commission. We need your ideas.”

Some of the ideas that the Commission will explore further before making its final recommendations in November include:

  • Making Libraries house other services such as healthcare, help for job seekers or adult learning classes. The idea is that they could become ‘Community Hubs’ that are the focus of a wider range of activities.
  • New wireless payment technology using mobile phones to pay for library charges, and technology that allows library users to issue books themselves, saving costs and freeing up library staff to get on with the job of helping customers.
  • A Bookshare scheme similar to Sutton’s where residents lend books to each other.
  • More Wi-Fi access in libraries to enable people access the internet via their mobile phones and lap-tops and some lending of e-books.
  • Outreach schemes where old books are made available around the borough, for example in train station waiting rooms and doctors’ surgeries.

You can send your ideas to us or contact us to get more information about how to get involved.

Send an email to: LibrariesHaveYourSay@lambeth.gov.uk
Text us on: 07772 103 628
Phone us on: 0800 013 1497 or 020 7926 6397

Editors’ notes:

Lambeth Council set up the Commission because it recognises that library services in the borough need to change. Low library use by residents and means that Lambeth has highest cost per visit of any library service in London, and those you do use a library report low satisfaction. Further, as a result of significant cuts in public sector funding made by the government, the council has to make savings of £79 million over the next three years. The library service’s contribution to this reduction is a saving of £750,000 by 2014.

Its interim report was discussed by the council’s cabinet at its meeting on 26th July, with the final report due in November.

The Commission is made up of members of local library Friends groups, councillors, and independent advisors.

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