Libraries Strategy

1. Libraries Strategy

East Sussex Libraries: The Way Forward

A five year library strategy was agreed by the County Council’s Cabinet on 6 March 2018. For more information about the background to this decision please see Libraries Transformation Programme .

The Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy 2018/19 to 2022/23 is designed to meet current and future needs for the county and to address the challenges the service faces, both in terms of less money to deliver the service but also the reducing demand for libraries across East Sussex as a whole.

Our strategy has four key Strategic Outcomes:

  • Improving child and adult literacy and numeracy.

We will provide a range of quality materials and personalised support for people’s different needs, so they can enjoy the pleasure of reading as well as the better life chances that literacy and numeracy unlock for people. We will deliver a new Children and Young People’s Literacy and Numeracy offer, working closely with other services for children and young people of all ages in all settings to encourage children and their families to use the library service

  • Supporting the economy.

We will provide training and guidance for people of all abilities seeking to learn and to work, so they are able to build skills and confidence in a supportive environment.

  • Better health and wellbeing.

We will promote reading as a source of wellbeing, provide reliable information and services to promote good health, and support people to manage their own health and the health of those they care for.

  • Increasing digital inclusion.

We will provide free access to computers and Wi-Fi, and paid access to printers and scanners, training for people to use technology and the Internet, so they are able to independently access vital information and services and participate in the benefits of the digital world.

We will deliver each strategic outcome through a range of services, provided according to evidence of need across the whole county and within specific communities, including:

From 8 May 2018 we will provide a core library offer for all residents through a network of 17 libraries.

We are expanding the range of online services and materials that are available for free to all our library members.

We will continue to provide a free delivery service to customers who cannot easily visit a library due to disability, frailty or caring responsibilities

  • Increased outreach work in our most disadvantaged communities
  • We will promote and deliver our offer more closely with other services in different settings including in Children’s Centres, schools and community venues
  • A new Children and Young People’s Literacy and Numeracy offer

We will work closely with other services for children and young people of all ages in all settings to encourage children and their families to use the library service.

  • Teachers Library Membership
  • From August 2018 we will introduce a free library membership specifically for teachers
  • New Community Library Membership
  • From May 2018 we will introduce a community library membership to enable rural communities to receive a core stock of books, to lend within their own community and to borrow additional items on a long loan basis. A nominated volunteer, acting on behalf of the community organisation, would be required to reserve, collect and return items to a selected East Sussex library.

Read the library strategy to find out more

2. Community Libraries and community-run Mobile Library

As part of the library strategy, the difficult decision was made to close Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon Libraries on Saturday 5 May 2018. The Mobile Library Service and financial support to Northiam Village Library also stopped on this day.

Cabinet agreed to delegate authority to the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, in consultation with the Assistant Chief Executive, to consider any viable community proposals to take over the running of the seven libraries which closed, or the Mobile Library, and to enter into appropriate agreements on behalf of the County Council.

We invited expressions of interest from communities interested in submitting proposals to take over the running of one of the seven libraries which closed, or the Mobile Library. This process was only applicable where it would involve the use of either County Council assets or purchase of our services. The deadline for submitting proposals was 30 April 2018.

Final Proposals

We received proposals for the following:

Langney Library

Ore Library

Pevensey Bay Library

Polegate Library

Ringmer Library

Willingdon Library

We evaluated the proposals and of the seven libraries which closed, Ringmer has already reopened as a community-run library, run by the Ringmer Village Hall Management Committee, while Langney, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon will reopen in the weeks and months to come. Langney, Ore, Pevensey Bay and Willingdon will operate as volunteer-run community libraries, with Langney run by Langney Community Library Steering Group, Ore run by Ore Community Association, Pevensey Bay by Volunteers Network and Willingdon by Willingdon & Jevington Parish Council.

Meanwhile, Polegate Town Council will pay the county council to run a community library offering a very similar range of services to that provided when it was run by the county, with the long-term aim of establishing a volunteer-run library.

3. Libraries Transformation Programme

The aim of the Libraries Transformation Programme was to deliver a modern and sustainable Library and Information Service for East Sussex.

There were two stages to the programme. The first was an Internal Review of the current service. The second part was the development of a Strategic Commissioning Strategy.

Overall the Libraries Transformation Programme will achieve over £1.9 million toward a total savings target of £2 million.

Internal review

We have undertaken an Internal Review of the Library and Information Service in East Sussex to reduce running costs and ensure we are spending our limited resources wisely. The review included a reduction in management staff, changes to how we manage and buy stock, and a reduction in library opening hours. The internal review has saved £1.25million towards our overall savings target.

Strategic Commissioning Strategy

The Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy sets the direction of the Library and Information Service for the next five years, based on the needs of the people of East Sussex.

A detailed needs assessment was carried out to inform the draft Strategy to enable the County Council to understand the contribution that the Library and Information Service can make to achieving the Council’s priority outcomes and the needs that the Library and Information Service is best placed to meet or support. By focussing on outcomes, not the existing service, it will enable us to make the best possible use of resources, and develop a modern and sustainable library service.

The Strategic Commissioning Strategy will deliver an estimated saving of £653,000 through a combination of shared efficiencies by co-locating library services with other County Council services, income generation, and the reduced provision of library buildings, the Mobile Library and other services.

A public consultation on our draft strategy ran from 14 September to 21 December 2017 and a revised strategy was approved by the County Council’s Cabinet on 6 March 2018.

Background documents:

Cabinet report December 2015 Approval of proposed Libraries Transformation Programme and agreement to opening hours consultation.

Cabinet report July 2016 Approval of opening hours proposals.

Cabinet report September 2017

Approval to hold a public consultation on the draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy. This includes the Cabinet report, draft Libraries Strategy and all supporting documents in full.

Cabinet report March 2018:

Approval of the revised Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy. This includes the Cabinet report, revised Libraries Strategy and all supporting documents in full.