Bury book-lovers are waiting on tenterhooks as the town’s council cabinet decides tomorrow whether to retain all the area’s libraries by creating a series of community hubs.
The proposals are informed by a council-backed review into library provision – 75% of respondents felt combining libraries and other services into one place would be good for the community.
Councillor Jane Lewis – the cabinet member for leisure, tourism and culture – believes such modernisation is necessary if the library service is to adapt to the demands of the modern world.
She said: “It’s essential that our library service modernises and develops innovative ways to maintain its relevance to individuals and communities.
“This includes embracing new technologies such as e-books and online information, the expansion of self-service technology, and co-location of buildings with a range of services that act as community hubs.
“In this day and age, the emphasis has moved from buildings and books to virtual access via the web and to electronic ways of information gathering such as e-books, websites and search engines.”
The proposed community hubs will aim to offer a range of easily accessible services including education, health and cultural activities as well as a place for community gatherings.
The proposals considered include creating a community hub in Radcliffe by relocating Radcliffe Library to a more modern provision in a remodelled Radcliffe Civic Suite.
Furthermore, Unsworth Library would be relocated to the nearby Sunnybank Community Centre – which will be extended to accommodate the library – to take advantage of the free parking available.
Prestwich Library would be relocated into the Longfield Suite and part of Whitefield Library will be reassigned to the Adult Care Learning Disability Day Services.
Cllr Lewis believes these multiple-use plans will represent good value for money and be the only way to save Bury’s library service in its entirety during these austere times.
She said: “These proposals, if approved, mean that we can keep all 17 of the council’s libraries open, modernise services for communities, improve access for all service users, and achieve the savings target agreed in the Plan for Change.”
If the council approves the plans they will be sent out for consultation at public events and questionnaires before being brought back to cabinet in June.