May 04 2012

Council Consultation on Harrow Libraries Begins

Harrow Council wants you to tell it what you want from your libraries. Whether you’d like free Wi-Fi to go with your Wordsworth, or different opening hours, now is the time to tell the council your ideas.

The council kicked off its libraries consultation on Monday (30th) and over the next month (30 April – 31 May), it will ask residents for their views on all aspects of the service but particularly opening hours, ICT improvements, and library stock. However, any ideas, no matter how big or small, will be welcomed.

The Council’s Administration has also made it clear that it is committed to maintaining Harrow’s library offer, enhancing the facilities and services available. Residents’ views will help the council to begin the next stage of library improvements, such as improving online and digital availability, offering remote access, improving home library services for those who cannot access libraries, revising opening hours and making libraries look more welcoming. The council would also like to create a partnership with Ealing Council to make them more cost effective and sustainable, within the financial constraints and reduced funding budget available from central government.

Your views are needed on the following:

  • Potential changes to opening hours to reflect when you use or would like to use them
  • If extra Sunday opening was an option, which branch would you like to see open?
  • What extra events and activities would you like to see in libraries?
  • What services would you like to see provided within or co-located with libraries.
  • What specific IT improvements you would like to see
  • What currently stops you using your local branch and how can we address that?
  • What improvements can be made to make them more accessible for you?

This information will help the council to further develop branches as ‘community hubs’ that provide what residents need, when they need to access them.

Councillor David Perry, Portfolio Holder for Community and Cultural services said: “We know Harrow residents love their libraries and the services they provide. It is important that they continue to contribute to building the service for the future. They can do this by having their voices heard. Harrow Council wants to ensure that our libraries continue as thriving community resources, whilst also bringing them into the 21st century.”

Questionnaires will be available in all libraries, Harrow Arts Centre, Harrow Museum, and Harrow Leisure Centre, as well as online at www.harrow.gov.uk/consultation. You can also send in any comments or other requests for information to library.consultation@harrow.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can attend one of the consultation roadshows at a library near you throughout May.

  • Thursday 17th May, 2-4pm Kenton Library, Kenton Lane, Harrow, HA3 8UJ
  • Thursday 24th May, 10am-12pm, Pinner Library, Marsh Road, Pinner, HA5 5NQ
  • Friday 25th May, 10am – 12pm, Stanmore Library, 8 Stanmore Hill, Stanmore, HA7 3BQ
  • Wednesday 30th May, 5.30 -7.30pm Gayton Library, Garden House, 5 St John’s Road, Harrow, HA1 2EE

The Libraries Transformation Project Phase 1 has already delivered:

  • Self service introduced in all libraries with over 90% usage by library customers.
  • Efficiency savings of £1.1m per annum enabling all libraries to remain open.
  • Back office efficiencies achieved leading to shelf ready stock supplied direct to libraries.
  • Moving Hatch End Library into the main part of Harrow Arts Centre creating a dynamic refreshed library space.
  • A staff training programme to ensure that the library service is equipped with a multi skilled workforce to deliver the aims of the project.

The Libraries Transformation Phase 2 aims to deliver:

  • Commissioning the provision of library services in partnership with the London Borough of Ealing to create economies of scale and greater efficiency savings.
  • The upgrading of the People’s Network public access to ICT (which has not been upgraded since installation in 2001).
  • The introduction of publicly available Wi-fi in each library to open up access for study use and increase overall capacity.
  • Re-contracting the Library Management System to deliver better value and enhanced customer interface.
  • Exploring new developments in Harrow town centre as an opportunity to create a modern central library (to combine Gayton and Civic Centre library facilities on one site).
  • A revision of opening hours based on consultation outcomes and an analysis of usage, in order to make most efficient use of existing resources and better meet customer needs.

It’s really important that Harrow residents respond to this – if we don’t, we could see our libraries disappear, just like Brent’s did!

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