A STRATEGY designed to enhance Swindon’s library service and make it more sustainable will be discussed by the Cabinet next Wednesday.

Councillors will be asked to approve a 12-week consultation on the draft library strategy to seek the views of the public and those interested in libraries.

The revised strategy will build on the success of the current strategy which has seen more than 200 volunteers and three friends groups working within libraries across the borough.

The service also benefits from around 75 RVS volunteers who operate the Home Library Service for more than 200 customers, particularly the elderly.

Swindon, which has 16 libraries and is in the top quarter of unitary authorities for the number of libraries per head of population, has a number of neighbourhood libraries co-located in community centres, while Walcot Library is operated by a community group with support from the Council’s Library Service.

The emerging strategy will need to take into account the financial challenges facing the council and the role that libraries play within local communities.

The consultation will explore what libraries mean to local residents and the principles by which they would like to see services delivered. The proposed consultation on the draft library service would run from mid-January to mid-April next year, with a report on the outcome to be presented back to council’s Cabinet next June.

Coun Keith Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways, Strategic Transport and Leisure who is responsible for libraries, said: “We have to find savings of £48m over the next three years and the only way we are going to meet this financial challenge is by changing the way we deliver services. The library service is no exception.

“We are extremely proud of our library service and we are incredibly lucky to have such a large number of libraries serving people in the borough.

“We want that to continue and this draft library strategy is all about exploring how we can achieve this. For example, the community may want us to continue to co-locate libraries in community hubs with other services. Alternatively, there may be community groups who would be interested in running their own service with the support of the council.

“If the consultation is approved by cabinet, the important thing is that the public engages with us so we can gain a clear understanding of how people want their library services to be delivered in the future.”