One week left to have a say on future of Sunderland's library services

Residents have just days left to ensure they have given their views on the future of library services in Sunderland.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 1:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 6:42 pm
Consultation is taking place over the future of library services in Sunderland, including the city centre facility in Fawcett Street. Image copyright Google Maps.

A consultation seeking the views of library users and non-users including children, young people and families as well as potential partners in the voluntary, community, public and private sectors ends next Friday, October 21.

Questions include how people prefer to access library services, which services they use and how often and how the council can support them to access services.

Sunderland City Council is also asking people whether they are aware of the range of services offered by libraries and which of these they value most, with a proposal to move the city centre facility from its base in Fawcett Street to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

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Councillor John Kelly, cabinet member for public health, culture and wellness, said: "We want to find out how people are using library services, whether they're aware of the range of library services available and what we can do to encourage them to use them more within the reduced budget we have available.

"When last reviewed library services in 2013 it was on the understanding that the Government's austerity programme was due to end in 2015.

"Because this didn't happen, we're now having to look at services again in the light of unprecedented cuts to council funding which have seen £250million cut from council budgets over the last six years with a further £74million to be taken out.

"We have worked very hard over the last three years to encourage more people to use libraries by taking library services out into communities.

"We need to find a way of continuing to make sure we provide library services that people can access at the same time as delivering the savings we need to make.

"One step towards achieving those savings is the planned move of the City Library back to its original home at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens which will help sustain and provide real opportunities for both the library and museum.

"Regrettably this alone won't generate the level of savings we need to make so we very much want to hear from people who use library services and those who don't about what they value most and if they don't use them, why this is the case.

"We are also keen to hear from any voluntary and community groups interested in working with us."

The questionnaire is available online at: Consultation responses will be used to help develop proposals.