Libraries escape the axe but it’s all change for services

LOCAL libraries have escaped unscathed from planned closures – but the service is to undergo a massive upheaval.

Councillors are being recommended to keep some provision in every ward in the borough when they meet to ratify Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s (WLCT) recommendations later this month.

But the level and quality of service will depend on where you live and the mobile library service is to be scrapped completely.

Staff were originally warned that six branch libraries were facing the axe, sparking widespread protests across the Metro.

Culture chiefs are now suggesting a series of proposals that will ensure the library service remains “accessible to all our communities” drawn together after a large scale consultation exercise following Government cuts of a quarter - more than £1.1m - in the libraries budget.

These include a range of changes such as co-locating some libraries with other services in order to share overheads and building costs.

The proposed new look library service will also reduce costs by reducing some opening hours in some libraries, relocating services and by “maximising stock and staff rotation” across libraries.

Under the planned changes, Libraries Central will be the format for the two town centre libraries in Wigan and Leigh which will operate the longest opening hours - between 50 and 55 hours per week - and the broadest range of products and services.

While ‘Libraries Local’ will be located into smaller town centres and will offer a “broad range” of book stock, information and activities over a 35 to 40 hours a week period.

Like all libraries, they will offer self service issues and self service PCs and many of these will be co-located with other services or host other services.

Proposals affecting Leigh include:

n GOLBORNE: integration with Day Care services and a Life Centre into existing building.

n HINDLEY: library services will move to be co-located with the Day Care Centre.

n TYLDESLEY: no changes. A new service called ‘Libraries Express’ - offering a minimum 18 hours a week provision - is recommended to be located in urban areas

n ATHERTON: relocate library services to a co-located site of the 14 -19 education site opening next year.

Although mobile libraries are being withdrawn, the Home Delivery Service will continue to provide a ‘direct to door’ service for people with mobility issues.