What is library provision like in Northamptonshire at the moment?

Northamptonshire Libraries and Information Service, “LibraryPlus”, provides a comprehensive range of services through 36 community hub libraries and a mobile library, enabling face to face access to a range of public services.  It sees almost 2.5 million physical visitors each year and an additional 600,000 virtual visits by customers using online resources.  Each library has a range of books, audiobooks and DVDs and over 2 million items are borrowed every year.

LibraryPlus staff offer a range of support services to their local communities including information, digital support and support with wellbeing assessments, Blue Badge, Bus Pass and Charity Link applications.  They signpost and make referrals to a range of other local organisations and work closely with colleagues from a number of services.  The recent Adult Public Library User Survey highlighted that of the 6227 respondents, there is a 97% satisfaction rate for customer service.

The service also delivers universal children’s centres services as part of the offer. There are currently 21 Libraries that are designated as Children’s Centres.

Since April 2016, NCC has commissioned First for Wellbeing, the Community Interest Company owned by Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and the University of Northampton to deliver the Library and Information Service.

Why are we considering making changes?

Northamptonshire County Council needs to find £115m savings over the next four years predominantly to meet social care costs in the county.  The Library and Information Service must share in this financial challenge and seek to reduce costs to the tax payer.  The low cost per visit compared to other library services demonstrates that this cannot be achieved by further efficiencies alone, and requires a more fundamental reshaping of the service to ensure it is fit for the future.

The review of the library service will comprehensively examine the current Northamptonshire Library and Information Service as it operates over its current 36 static and one mobile site against four measures of accessibility, quality, availability and sustainability in line with the review approach recommended by the National Libraries Taskforce.  It will examine key statistics and trends within the service before setting out options about how a future library service may be shaped.  It will test these proposals against the common design principles of library services and consider the impact of the proposals on the residents of Northamptonshire.  This consultation and its outcomes will play a significant part in informing the new library strategy 2018-2022.