More libraries, double opening hours, new state of the art IT equipment and extra services could all be on the books for library users in Salford.
The city, which launched the UK’s first free public library in 1850 is planning to buck the national trend by expanding its service in the face of hundreds of national closures or volunteers being drafted in to run libraries. KKP assessed library condition, location, catchment, usage, staffing, cost, catchments and the other factors that impact upon the Service’s value in, relevance to and impact on, the community.
Salford City Council is looking at investing up to £590,000 over the next four years across the service; which is managed by Salford Community Leisure Ltd (SCL). This includes spending £100,000 on replacing all IT equipment and providing digital learning as requested by members of the public. (The consultation process which accompanied the review reached more than 3,600 local residents).
The Council’s ambitious plans and the funding to be allocated over the next four years will see Salford libraries expand into seven new sites. These include its Helly Hansen Watersports Centre which will serve the Salford Quays area plus local leisure and community centres. Weekly opening hours will double and extra opening hours in the evenings and at weekends are also in the pipeline.
The proposed investment will assist the City Council, working closely with SCL, to save £1.26 million over four years via better use of technology and co-locating services.
City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett said: “This will be an investment in the future of our city.
“Libraries not only help people learn, gain qualifications and open up better paid jobs, they also provide free access to digital technology which helps people save money and gain new skills. They are essential for lifting people out of poverty and developing a life-long love of learning.
The investment in IT facilities goes well beyond simply upgrading computers. Library visitors will be able to charge personal laptops, tablets and mobiles and print from them. Digital novices will be given more support to get online, while those wishing to seek more advanced or specialist learning will also be helped.
Mayor Dennett added: “Last year nationally over 350 libraries closed and over 300 more faced closure or were being transferred to communities to run them. To be able to announce the complete opposite of that – expanding and upgrading library services – is amazing and such a bonus for the people of Salford. We cannot put a price on the return this investment will generate in terms of supporting local people to learn, grow and achieve.”
John Eady, Chief Executive of KKP said: ‘We are delighted with the outcomes of the review. KKP has worked on a range of assignments with Salford City Council and Salford Community Leisure; these include the libraries review, its playing pitch and indoor and built facilities strategies and on the facilities planning that underpins other upcoming investment. We are proud of being a long-term, trusted partner of the City and the Trust.
“KKP delivers strategic and service reviews for many local authorities in the UK including leisure/sports trusts, NGBs, social enterprises, CSPs and commercial operators. Specialist expertise includes governance, leadership/management, operation and performance management in sport/leisure, libraries, community provision, specialist sport/physical activity programmes, open spaces, parks and play
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