Council's Controversial Plans for Libraries

Consultation offers the chance to have your say

 

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The closure of Barons Court Library, cancellation of the mobile library service and relocation of Hammersmith Library are among controversial new ideas being proposed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

It describes Barons Court as the second worst performing library in the borough, while the mobile library offers "incredibly poor value for money".

It claims these and other proposed changes could help to save around £300,000 a year, which would be ploughed back into the library services and used to help cut the council’s £133 million debt mountain.

The council has also said it wishes to relocate Hammersith Library to a new more central home in Hammersmith Broadway and elsewhere in the borough, to invest £80,000 improving the central Fulham Library while closing Sands End Library in south Fulham.

The council claims these proposals, including closing smaller local libraries, are all part of its aim to have state of the art town centre libraries that replicate the hugely successful Shepherds Bush Library.

The council describes the service at Shepherds Bush as 'More than a Library' because it offers residents a variety of services under one roof, including a large study space, an employment bureau, Wi Fi connections and public access PCs, a teenage area with computer games and chill-out space.

Askew Road Library, which reopened in March this year, also follows this 'More than a Library' model, offering a Post Office delivery enquiry counter plus reading groups, story telling sessions and other events.

Says Cllr Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Service says: " In the current financial climate, the days of small neighbourhood libraries, such as Barons Court and Sands End, which serve relatively small numbers of people are coming to an end.

"Instead, we want to move to fewer, better state-of-the-art town centre libraries that attract more customers and are more economical to operate especially where costs can be shared with other services to customers."

Here are the details of plans for Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush:

Hammersmith Library
The council has commenced early discussions with developers that could see Hammersmith Library move to a new site in central Hammersmith and dispose of the current building. The current Hammersmith Library is a listed building which it is difficult to adapt as a modern, accessible library. It may be possible for the current library to move to a better site in Hammersmith Broadway.

This proposal will only go ahead following consultation with residents and only if a suitable site for the library in the centre of Hammersmith is secured.

Barons Court Library
This is the second worst performing library in the borough, with the second lowest number of visits, visits per hour of opening and second highest costs per issue and visit. The council is considering relocating other services into the building, to enable the release of a council asset elsewhere for disposal.

Mobile Library
The council currently spends £10,500 a year on the mobile library. This equates to an incredibly poor value-for-money deal given the level of usage, with costs of £45 per issue and £25 per visit (2008/9 figures). The council proposes to cancel this service.

Customers close to the current mobile library stop are only 1 mile from Askew Road and 1.2miles from Shepherds Bush Library. Customers who are unable to travel to a library will be eligible for the housebound service which delivers books to the homes of over 150 disabled or elderly residents in the borough already.

The old Shepherds Bush Library
The old building on Uxbridge Road closed in 2009, ahead of the new building opening at Westfield. The council is currently in discussions with the Bush Theatre in a deal that could see the theatre group move into the premises.


The council says it wants as many people are possible to register their views on the plans and will be consulting the public and asking for feedback until September 15.

You can have your say by visiting the Library Strategy Consultation or by filling in the paper questionaire available at all borough libraries.

There will also be a series of library open days, which are open to all residents.

They are on:

Tuesday August 24, Hammersmith Library
Thursday September 2, Fulham Library
Tuesday September 7, Shepherds Bush Library

Each event runs from 2pm until 7pm.