A series of community events, which get underway later this month, will bring local people and organisations together to look for opportunities for community led activities and partnerships to create a library service for the future. This is everyone’s opportunity to be pro-active and work together to pilot new ideas and solutions.
The library team will work alongside residents and organisations to come up with solutions for extending the service and use of the buildings, while also looking at the wider needs of the local community.
The meetings will offer an opportunity for collaboration and will build on feedback and ideas from previous meetings and consultations.
The community discussions will consider any support that is needed – both financial and practical – to take ideas forward to become pilot projects.
Alongside the meetings, there will be an online ideas form where people who cannot make any of the events can share their suggestions.
Not all ideas can be considered at once so there will need to be a phased approach to looking at possible pilot projects so that they can be adequately supported.
In July last year the Mayor and his Cabinet decided to keep all 27 libraries across the city open pledging to work with community groups to explore sustainable options for the future of libraries.
The decision not to close any libraries has ensured the full service remains in place while this process takes place and offers a window of opportunity for the council and local communities to work together to pilot new approaches and explore new partnerships.
On announcing the community meetings, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “We have kept libraries open while we look at finding long term solutions to the service and to community hubs. We recognise the current model for libraries needs modernising, and that we must attract more people and be more innovative and responsive to community needs.
“We want to use this opportunity to explore how we can work with people to make these spaces more appealing and tailor them to fit the needs of today’s citizens.
“We want people to come to these events with suggestions and ideas - small ideas that could be started quickly, as well as bigger ideas which will make a significant difference to how a library service is provided into the future. This is not about saving money, it is about the community finding sustainable solutions and working with us to deliver them.”
In October, the council’s Cabinet approved the development of a library strategy to help modernise the service and take it forward. The strategy proposes the following areas of priority; reading and learning, digital inclusion and access, extended access and Knowledge Hubs.
The strategy will take into consideration all the feedback from the 2017 Your Neighbourhood consultation, subsequent meetings and conversations and ongoing interest from organisations and groups.
Development of the strategy will run alongside the proposed community engagement which will look in detail at local ideas and solutions for each library.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for the library service, said: “Libraries continue to provide key services for local communities, but what residents want from them is changing, and we need to change with this. We want to hear from community organisations, current and potential library users, businesses and councillors. The idea is that we work together to find the best possible solutions.
“We are looking for people to come forward with workable ideas for their local library –we are open to discussing new ideas and are keen not to stand in people’s way.
“This will be different in each area as it needs to be targeted to what that local community wants and needs. We understand that there is no one-size fits all approach.”
To book on to an event or fill in the online form, please visit www.bristol.gov.uk/libraryideas