Library Service Consultation
Date Published : 26 October 2016
Reference 32: Redesign of the library service including the Local History Centre & Archive and Leather Museum
Walsall currently has 16 “static” libraries in buildings all over the borough, 2 mobile libraries and a home delivery service for people who are housebound. To balance the budget we need to reduce the cost of the service.
Following a period of consultation and careful consideration, as detailed in the 8 February 2017 Cabinet report, Cabinet recommend for approval a redesigned library service saving £1.8m (rather than the origional £2.9m) that includes;
- Walsall Town Centre “Hub” (including the Local History Centre & Archive)
- The Leather Museum will remain “as is” at the Wisemore factory
- Five District libraries (Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall)
- One Mobile Library and a Home Delivery Service, the mobile service route to be redesigned to meet 'Marmot' objectives and greatest need, and
- A Community Library at Streetly, augmented with community volunteer support.
Consultation has now closed. Final budget proposals were formalised by Cabinet on 8 February 2017 after which Full Council approved the budget on 23 February 2017.
Findings from consultation and supporting information
Consultation on options for a redesigned library service;
- Postal survey of households report of findings (.PDF 450KB)
- Questionnaire showing topline results from postal survey of households (.PDF 39KB)
- Findings from face to face consultation (.PDF 67KB)
- Findings from the online survey (110KB)
Original draft options for a redesigned Library, Local History Centre & Archive and Leather Museum
Click here to access the policy paper for the original draft saving option which details how the saving could be achieved, including a range of considerations and implications associated with the option. You may also find this information paper helpful.
Draft proposals for how the redesigned service could be delivered were put forward for consultation:
Option 1: Reduce the total number of “static” libraries from 16 to 1, keep Walsall Central Library (Lichfield Street, Walsall), retain one mobile library bus and the Home Delivery “housebound” Service. The single library site would be redesigned and developed as a “Hub” in conjunction with an integrated Local History Centre and Archive and Leather Museum for approximately £1m. This is the council's preferred option.
Option 2: Close Walsall Central library and reduce the total number of “static” libraries from 16 to no more than 5, keep one mobile library bus and the Home Delivery 'housebound' Service.
A minimal Local History Centre & Archive service would operate from one of the retained libraries. There is a budget of approximately £1m for this option. Unless a suitable, alternative location is found for Walsall Leather Museum, it would close.
Option 3: Your alternative option; retain any number and selection of static or mobile libraries and / or the Local History Centre & Archive and Leather Museum, within a budget of approximately £1m per year.
The Council has to provide a free and accessible library service for Walsall residents, however there are no rules on the number of libraries required.
The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) are the UK’s lead organisation for the library and information profession and have set out 10 ‘key principles’ for the leadership and development of public library services in England over the next 5 years. CILIP 10 Key Principles.
There are currently sixteen ‘static’ libraries in the borough (Aldridge, Beechdale, Blakenall, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Walsall Central, Darlaston, New Invention, Pelsall, Pheasey, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall, Streetly, Walsall Wood and Willenhall). There are also two mobile bus libraries and a home delivery service for people who are housebound. We also run the school library support service although this operates at no cost to the library service.
The static library service has just over 1 million visits a year and 775,000 books and other items are issued. The library service currently costs £4.1m net, £5.4m gross.
The service offers access to lending and reference books, magazines, music and ICT as well as a range of activities such as the Summer reading challenge and knit & natter. The service also offers access to on-line publications such as Which?
Hours of opening vary between 21 and 49.5 hours a week and between 3 and 5½ days a week.
Local History Centre & Archive
Located in the old North Walsall Primary School, Essex Street, the Local History Centre & Archive holds Walsall’s historical records.
The archive contains original records from the middle ages to the 21st century. These include the records of Walsall Corporation and Walsall Council and its predecessors, churches, schools, businesses, societies, individuals and organisations.
Collections include the local studies library of over 13,000 books and pamphlets covering every aspect of Walsall’s history and culture including buses, cars, trains and trams, canals, railways, roads and aviation.
The History Centre stores maps and plans from the 1700s onwards including Ordnance Survey maps covering the whole of the borough, tithe maps and building plans. It also has copies of local newspapers, photographs and illustrations for the whole borough dating back to the nineteenth century. Census, ancestry and family history information is also available.
Walsall Leather Museum
Located in a restored leather factory, the Leather Museum records how, for two hundred years, Walsall people have been making some of the world's finest saddles and leather goods. Walsall Leather Museum seeks to celebrate this great tradition and reflect the achievements of the leather craftsmen and women of Walsall.
It contains several atmospheric workshops where skilled leather workers demonstrate the process of hand-crafting leather goods such as wallets and purses. The displays around the museum tell the stories of the Walsall leather trade and feature splendid examples of local craftsmanship past and present, including saddles made for the Royal Family.
Other useful information and data
To facilitate informed comment we have published here a range of supporting information which we encourage you to review before having your say.
Information paper: This paper provides some background and supporting information on how the council has arrived at its budget saving proposals for the Library service, Local History Centre & Archive and Leather Museum with effect from April 2017.
Location Map (.PDF 555KB) Map showing all Walsall libraries, the Local History Centre and Archive and Leather Museum. Out of borough libraries are also marked.
Map showing out of area libraries (.PDF 346KB) Location of Walsall libraries and others outside of the borough.
Deprivation Map (.PDF 214KB) Map showing Walsall libraries and Indicies of Deprivation by ward.
Accessability Assessment (.PDF 2.5MB) Report examining accessability of libraries and deprivation
Financials and usage data
Graphs of library visits, borrowing and cost per visit (.PDF 425KB) As opening hours vary between libraries, the “levelled” data shown on these graphs extrapolates actual performance to estimate what performance would look like if all libraries opened the same number of hours (49.5 – as Central).
Library usage data (.PDF 194KB) Table showing visits, issues, computer sessions and average visits per hour by library.
Outline 'Hub' proposal
Consultation has now closed.
Interested in taking on a library building or library service?
We are keen to hear from anyone interested in taking on a library building and / or running a library. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org explaining which library you are interested in, who you are and if applicable what organisation you represent. Someone will get back to you to discuss in more detail.
In November a postal survey is being sent to a random sample of 11,600 households all over the borough. Results from this survey will be used to inform the decision making process alon with other feedback, data and information. If you have received a questionnaire please complete it and return as soon as possible or by 31 December 2016.
Final budget proposals will be formalised by Cabinet on 8 February 2017 for recommendation to Full Council on 23 February 2017.