A consultation on the future of Liverpool’s libraries has started, as the service seeks to find savings of £2.5 million.
The service needs to reduce its £10 million budget by 25 per cent, as part of £156 million of savings needed over the next three years due to cuts in Central Government funding.
The scale of the challenge means there is likely to be a significant reduction in the 19 libraries that are currently operated across Liverpool.
The city council is committed to ensuring that those that are retained are close to good transport routes and are fully accessible. Decisions will also take into account local needs as well as exploring opportunities to share building costs with other services and organisations.
Now, residents are being asked to complete a questionnaire which will give them the opportunity to have their say. A number of public meetings will be held across the city, with dates and venues to be confirmed.
The questionnaire is aimed at establishing which libraries are most frequently used, what times of the week/day are popular, how far people travel to visit a library and how each community library is valued.
It will also ask people’s views on different ways of running the service, and whether they would be willing to see community organisations and local housing groups take over buildings, or introduce local book collection facilities.
Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Due to the savings needed, we have to make some extremely difficult decisions about the library service.
“There is no doubt that in the future we will not be able to have a library in every community, and that people may well have to travel further to access the service.
“However, we are really keen to hear what people think, and their ideas about how we can mitigate the impact, or do things in a different way to enable people to continue to have access to books, public information and computers.
“The way in which people access library services is also changing due to new technology, and that is why we have recently re-launched our e-library service Read Liverpool to enable people to download books, magazines and periodicals free of charge without having to visit a library.”
The consultation will run until Friday 16 May and is available at www.liverpool.gov.uk/librariesconsultation, by phoning 0151 233 3069 and from libraries, One Stop Shops and Neighbourhood Health Centres.
The results of the consultation will be analysed by an independent local company.
Liverpool’s 19 libraries are at: Central on William Brown Street; Allerton; Breck Road; Childwall; Croxteth; Dovecot; Fazakerley; Garston; Kensington; Lee Valley; Norris Green; Old Swan; Parklands; Sefton Park; Spellow; Toxteth; Walton; Wavertree and West Derby.