An additional consultation event is being organised so that people can have their say about plans to modernise local library services.
The City of Wolverhampton Council's draft Libraries Strategy for 2017-27 seeks to maintain its 16-strong network of libraries while further improving the services they offer to people who live, work, visit or study in Wolverhampton.
The strategy was developed following engagement with more than 500 people including library users, staff and volunteers, community groups and residents, and is currently subject to a 12-week consultation.
A number of public meetings have already taken place, including at Bilston, Wednesfield and Bantock House Museum. The additional event, at Bilston Library on Wednesday 19 April, from 2pm-3pm, will give residents and library users the chance to find out more about the strategy and comment on the proposals.
People can also have their say by visiting www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/mylibraryservice and completing a short online survey.
The 10-year strategy features several specific proposals including:
maintaining provision of 16 branch libraries, and seeking ways of making improvements to them all
modernising Central Library, improving the environment in response to feedback from customers, and exploring the creation of a wider City Learning Quarter with the City of Wolverhampton College and Adult Education Wolverhampton
reviewing the location of Bilston Library to improve accessibility.
Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the consultation process so far, either online or via one of the public meetings.
"The Bilston meeting last month was very well attended and we're arranging a follow up on 19 April to give more people the chance to hear about the proposals and to ask questions.
"In particular, we want to hear what people think about the possibility of moving Bilston Library to a more central location.
“One potential location is Bilston Town Hall, which would improve access to public transport such as the bus station and Metro. This is just as possibility, though. People may have other suggestions for where the library could go, or they may want it to stay where it is. This is a genuine consultation – contrary to what some people think, nothing has been decided – and that's why it is important residents and library users take this opportunity to have their say.
"We're also interested to get people's views on a range of other issues, including opening hours and what sort of events and activities people want to see in their libraries.
"We know that our libraries are highly valued by residents, but that the way many people use their library is changing. The number of book loans is falling, but more and more people are coming into our libraries to use PCs and access the internet, to develop their skills and apply for jobs, to attend events and activities or to access support services.
"We want to improve the service we offer in Wolverhampton and this 10-year strategy is designed to meet the needs of our customers, both now and in the future.”
The City of Wolverhampton Council's draft Libraries Strategy for 2017-27 seeks to ensure that Wolverhampton’s libraries are vibrant, welcoming and safe places to visit, study and enjoy and that, wherever possible, libraries are co-located with other services to improve accessibility and convenience for customers.
It also envisages that libraries will host an increasing number of events which support reading and literacy, help people develop their skills and employability and improve their health and wellbeing.
At the same time, self-service facilities will be improved, enabling libraries to be open for longer, there will be more opportunities for people to volunteer within their local library, increased investment in digital technology like ebooks and talking books and extra income generating opportunities, such as room hire.
The strategy for 2017-27, along with full details of the consultation, can be seen at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/mylibraryservice. Hard copies of the strategy and survey are available by calling 01902 552025 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as public library provision, people can also have their say about the Home Library Service and Education Library Service as part of the consultation, which continues until Sunday 21 May, 2017. All feedback received will be analysed and help shape the final libraries strategy, which is due to be considered by councillors in July.