Plans to safeguard the long-term future of Northamptonshire County Council’s libraries have taken a step forward with the approval of business cases submitted by community groups.
But no firm plans are in place yet for the future of Abington and Far Cotton libraries, and Northamptonshire County Council is working with them further to set details in stone.
The strategy for the future of the library service was drawn up with the community groups and district, borough, town and parish councils and were refined following a consultation and evaluation process.
The strategy aims to retain as many libraries as possible with 14 to be managed directly by the county council, satisfying the council’s statutory duty.
In Northampton, those include Weston Favell, Northamptonshire Central, Hunsbury and Duston.
A further five libraries will provide statutory services and will be managed by community groups, including Earls Barton, while the remaining 17 will be managed entirely by the community.
Councillor Lizzy Bowen, county council deputy leader said: “I’m delighted that so many of our community groups have come up with robust business cases for the running of their libraries.
“We believe that the plans offer a solution that enables us to provide an efficient service that is fit-for-purpose and reaches as many people as possible, despite the budgetary constraints that we face.
“Community groups and councils across the county have come forward in support of the library service. Without their active engagement, the county council could not have achieved such a positive outcome for residents.”
The county council will now finalise plans to achieve a smooth handover of the libraries to the individual groups with the first step to agree individual service level agreements with the groups.
The county council says property arrangements are in hand and are being progressed as quickly as possible with the aim that the first handovers will start in October.
The proposals for each library is as follows:
1. NCC run statutory library
This will be a library that is staffed by Northamptonshire County Council and is part of the statutory library provision for the county. The libraries in this category are:
2. Community managed statutory library
This will be a library that is not staffed by Northamptonshire County Council but will be community managed with support from the Council and will form part of the statutory library provision for the county.
The libraries in this category are:
3. Community managed non-statutory library
This will be a library that is not staffed by Northamptonshire County Council and is not part of the statutory provision for the county.
It would be managed by a community group and would be an additional library provision as long as the community group wish to/ are able to maintain it. This may or may not be in the current library location. The libraries in this category are:
4. The county council will now work with the following five libraries to further develop their business plans.