Date Published: 

Fri, 16/12/2016

Bath & North East Somerset Council has announced further plans to modernise library services across the district.

Following the success of the joint library and One Stop Shop in Keynsham, plans have been announced that will also see Bath’s Central Library and Midsomer Norton Library modernised to reflect the changing way people use the library service.

Data collected by Bath Central Library over an average week shows how people use the library:

  • 52% wanted to book a computer or print something out
  • 19% wanted information
  • 9% wanted to renew or borrow books
  • 6% wanted a particular item
  • 5% wanted help with their account
  • 4% wanted help with computers or photocopiers
  • 2% wanted newspapers
  • 2% wanted to hand items in
  • 1% wanted to join the library

The plans put forward by the Council will create a modern service offering access to more computers, improved Wi-Fi facilities and more family space, with continued access to the 3 million books available through the Libraries West system.

Work on the new design is underway and a first draft of the plans will be ready in the New Year when comments from members of the public will be welcome.

The plans for Bath Central Library:

  • Relocating the library to the first two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street.
  • More computers and improved Wi-Fi access will be available to make the most of new technology and support digital access.
  • More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.
  • Designs for the new facility will be available in January with work expected to start following public feedback in the spring, with the work expected to last around nine months.
  • To ensure a continuous library service, a temporary library will be created in The Podium while work is carried out on the new location.
  • The public will be encouraged to give feedback on the plans early in the new year to help shape the final layout.

The plans for Midsomer Norton Library:

  • Relocating the library to the One Stop Shop at The Hollies.
  • There will be more computers and improved Wi-Fi access to make the most of new technology to support digital access.
  • More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.
  • Designs for the new facility will be shared with the community in January for comment and feedback.

All three million books will continue be available for members of the public to access through Libraries West and local history books will be added to the archive collection and be available to everyone in a modernised facility in The Guildhall.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The plans we are putting forward will ensure that B&NES residents have access to a modern library service which is both sustainable for the future and fits with the way in which people are now using library services.

“For example, we know that people are increasingly using our libraries to access computers and information as well as attending family events, rather than simply browsing for books.

“Our plans will therefore offer more computers, improved Wi-Fi and new technology to support digital access as well as offering more child and family-friendly facilities, whilst continuing to provide access to the three million books available through Libraries West.

“At the same time, the Council is facing extremely challenging times as it looks to balance its budget. By co-locating our libraries with other community services these changes will not only provide a modern library service to residents but will also help the Council towards achieving the large savings it has to make in the coming years.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council needs to save £49 million over four years. Modernising the library service will contribute £800,000 a year towards these savings by co-locating the libraries with other public services and freeing-up current premises such as the Podium which can then generate an income for the Council through leasing opportunities.

Designs for the new facilities will be available in the New Year when members of the public will be encouraged to comment and provide feedback.

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