Libraries as Community Hubs

Posted on: 29th June 2014
St Just Library

St Just Library

Libraries as Community Hubs is an interesting vision for libraries that needs exploring quickly before funding strangles the life from the public library service throughout England. People may be wondering, having stirred the St Just community into action, what am I doing now to support our much loved local library?

Well, I am taking every opportunity possible to influence the future for our local library but, as the saying goes, if it stands still it will be falling behind! At the public meeting people became concerned that I talked of not ruling anything out over the location of our library service and our tourist information service. Part of that is that it is never possible to tell what opportunities are around the corner. From various meetings and projects I get involved in, there could be a time when it is better for the town that the building becomes dedicated to tourist information, boosting jobs and the economy of the town. The library or a community hub including what we traditionally regard as a library service, might be better housed elsewhere.

On the other hand, an opportunity might arise for the current building to become a community hub, including the traditional library services and for a tourist information service to go somewhere else. It maybe that tourist information and a community hub can continue together in the same building BUT in my vision, BOTH will become too big to share the one building!!

This week, I have a meeting with senior officers responsible for Cornwall’s library services and the relevant Cabinet member. Also at the meeting will be representatives of the local Town Council and officers from the Localism and devolution team. We are going to share options and ideas for the future of St Just library (and Tourist Information Service). The ‘Friends’ are not invited to this meeting but their ideas and enthusiasm for our library will definitely influence my (and I suspect others) thoughts. In July, there is a meeting of the Partnerships Portfolio Advisory Committee and from that some options and pilots will develop that will hopefully help our much loved library service evolve to something sustainable rather than a service at risk of extinction.

There is a National review of the public library service in England and William Sieghart, who is chairing the review, is welcoming ideas. For more on this go to  Feature – Future libraries and like me, have your say.