Warwickshire’s libraries need to continue evolving with the times says council officer
It is vital to ensure that Warwickshire’s libraries are vibrant places that evolve with the times according to a leading county council officer.
And such a good job is being done across the county that other authorities are looking to replicate the work on their own patch.
Warwickshire County Council’s assistant director for resources Kushal Birla told this week’s meeting (September 26) of the resources and fire and rescue overview and scrutiny committee that the libraries needed to be fit for purpose.
She explained: “The challenge for me is to ensure that we are responsive to the needs of the community so that means one size does not fit all.
“So if you look at our community managed libraries they are all different and they have all done different things to make their spaces vibrant. They are running a library service but they may also be running a dance school or a cinema or author visits.
“What we have to do is make sure our libraries are community hubs and community spaces - they have to be vibrant spaces. We have invested in the look and feel of the libraries, people won’t go into those buildings if they are not fit for purpose.”
The report to councillors was an update on how the library service was performing across Warwickshire where there were 1,417,440 visits last year.
It said: “The service continues to reshape and realign the library network to meet the needs and preferences of modern-day customers.
“The service does have a national reputation for innovation and getting things done and is frequently visited by other authorities keen to learn from Warwickshire’s approach.”
Among those innovative developments there are plans to move Whitnash library to a new location incorporating a community centre and ‘Let’s Make’ spaces have been developed at Nuneaton and Rugby where a range of activities have taken place including animation, film making, robotics and embroidery.
And in the south of the county, the library at Stratford now houses the town’s registration service providing an unusual and historic place to get married.
Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem Leamington North) said: “A huge chunk of our population still go to libraries. It is a hugely useful resource for a community - so long may our libraries last and go from strength to strength.”