A promise has been made that libraries across north Shropshire will not be closed.
The pledge was made as Shropshire Council revealed a new strategy which aims to save more than £300,000 every year by the end of 2022/23.
However, under the proposals libraries such as Wem must be ‘self-sustainable’ by the end of 2018/19 – and the council will expect them to be run solely by volunteers in the future.
Councillor Lezley Picton, cabinet member for culture and leisure services, said: “We have no intention to close any of our libraries.
“We need to prioritise how and where our limited resources are spent now and in the future. By having a hierarchy of library services we believe we can ensure all residents get access to a library service.
“The next five years are crucial for the long-term sustainability and success of public library services in Shropshire and this strategy reflects our ambition and commitment to continue to unlock the huge potential that library services have.”
The Library Services Strategy, which aims to make libraries more sustainable and will be discussed by cabinet members next Wednesday, states libraries such as Wem are on the bottom of a three-tier system and have just 12 months to find ‘innovative’ ways of generating income which will be explored to ensure long-term sustainability.
It comes just a year after library opening hours across most of Shropshire were cut.
The tier system has seen libraries prioritised through a four-key criteria, including usage, deprivation, accessibility and proportion of younger and older people, before creating a three tier group.
Whitchurch is in the top tier which will continue to be financed by Shropshire Council along with sourcing potential sustainable revenue streams to provide broad opening times, staffed libraries, reading groups, requests service and ‘community hubs’ which will offer services from other organisations.
The second tier, which includes Ellesmere, will be managed by local community organisations – as has recently been introduced in the town – with a focus on exploring into creative ways of generating income in a long-term plan.
The services at these libraries would include flexible opening times, staffed libraries supported by volunteers, reading groups, ‘community hubs’ and support provided by Shropshire Council’s libraries team.
The third and final tier will be managed by local community organisations with services similar to the second tier but with a request service and without reading groups and ‘community hubs’.
See full story in the Whitchurch Herald