There is a growing recognition on the part of central and local government that library services have to change in line with changes in lifestyle and expectations. Central government is encouraging greater collaboration between councils and a closer relationship between councils and communities in order to provide more efficient and effective services.
Low usage of Lambeth Libraries has resulted in the highest cost per visit, combined with the lowest levels of user satisfaction, of any London borough. Because of reductions in Government grant, savings of £750,000 in our library service need to be made by 2014.
We also need to make £1.2million of savings from the Cultural Services Division in 2011/12 and this will require a restructure of posts across the division. This restructuring will protect as much front line service as possible, resolve issues in relation to posts that have been held vacant and establish greater clarity about service delivery functions and commissioning roles.
It is estimated that the 2011/12 saving from the library staffing will be between £650,000 and £800,000. The intention is to continue staffing the nine existing libraries with their current opening hours and this therefore should not limit the opportunities and recommendations that can arise from the Libraries Commission.
In order to respond to these challenges and ensure a sustainable future for our library service, we are consulting you on the future of our libraries. To take forward this review our Cabinet agreed, in April 2011, to establish a Libraries Commission chaired by Councillor Florence Nosegbe, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Games.
The Libraries Commission will gather a wide range of evidence from a range of people including residents, experts in the field of libraries, academics and library staff all of whom will bring a range of expertise on library services and will help develop the Commission's thinking on the future for our libraries. The commission will examine all this information and make recommendations to Lambeth Council on the future of the library service.
An interim report, setting out emerging findings of the Commission, will be published in July 2011 with a final report submitted to the council's Cabinet in November 2011 for their consideration.