PLANS have been announced for the forthcoming public consultation on the council’s libraries strategy.

Released last month, the strategy sets out a plan for a ‘core network’ consisting of an unchanged Central Library alongside North Swindon, West Swindon and Highworth libraries operating with limited opening hours.

The other 11 libraries in the town will either close or have to be taken on by parishes, local residents or volunteer groups - a £500,000 pot of transitional funding has been made available to that end.

The strategy was met with vocal opposition from libraries campaigners as well as Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party. It attracted regional and even national news coverage.

It will now be put to the public through a consultation process which is set to begin next month.

Coun Mary Martin, the Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “We want as many people as possible to have their say on the new library strategy as their views are really important to us.

“We are facing an incredibly challenging financial position and our library strategy seeks to address that while also meeting our vision of improving literacy and learning within our communities.

“We have a comprehensive programme of engagement events over the next two months and I would urge anyone who is interested in the future of the library strategy to attend one of the events, ask questions and fill in a questionnaire.”

With one exception, the events will not take the form of public meetings as was the case with the recent review into parishing, instead they will be in a drop in format.

There are 21 such sessions planned between August 3 and September 26 – they will be held at all libraries across Swindon and along the mobile library routes.

The single public meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 6, at St Joseph’s Catholic College on Ocotal Way between 7pm and 9pm.

It is likely that the decision not to hold multiple public meetings was taken to avoid the likely impasse that would unfold in an open public setting.

Given the strength of opinion over libraries and the ability of campaigners to turn out in high numbers, it is entirely likely that those advocating for the strategy would have been overwhelmed by opposition to their plans.

Sarah Church, Chairman of the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign, said: “We would also encourage all residents and library users to take part in the Council's consultation on the future of the Borough library service.

“The plan to reduce the core service to only four libraries, none of which are in southern or eastern Swindon, and with those seeing greatly reduced staffed hours, needs to be challenged.

“We have been assured by Councillor Mary Martin that this is not a done deal, that the consultation results will be taken into account, so we recommend people make their voices heard by taking part.

“Save Swindon's Libraries will also take part in the consultation and will be providing evidence as to alternative solutions to ensure a better outcome than this proposal for the libraries."

The full library strategy can be viewed at

People who would like to ask any questions or attend one of the drop-in events can email

The dates of the consultation events are as follows:

• Wednesday, 3 August (10am to 3pm) Central Library

• Wednesday, 10 August (4pm-8pm) Highworth Library

• Tuesday, 16 August (6pm-8pm) Central Library

• Thursday, 18 August (10am-3pm) North Swindon Library

• Tuesday, 23 August (9am-2pm) West Swindon Library

• Monday, 5 September (11am-3pm) Park Library

• Monday, 5 September (4pm-8pm) Wroughton Library

• Tuesday, 6 September (7pm-9pm) St Joseph’s Catholic College – PUBLIC MEETING

• Wednesday, 7 September (10am-2pm) Liden Library

• Wednesday, 7 September (as advertised) Mobile Library Route A

• Thursday, 8 September (4pm-8pm) West Swindon Library

• Saturday, 10 September (9am-1pm) Old Town Library

• Monday, 12 September (10.30am-12.30pm) Even Swindon Library

• Tuesday, 13 September (10am-2pm) Moredon Library

• Wednesday, 14 September (4pm-8pm) North Swindon Library

• Thursday, 15 September (1pm-5pm) Upper Stratton Library

• Saturday, 17 September (10am-2pm) Central Library

• Monday, 19 September (10am-2pm) Pinehurst Library

• Tuesday, 20 September (3pm-7pm) Covingham Library

• Wednesday, 21 September (9.30am-1pm) Walcot Library

• Thursday, 22 September (10am-2pm) Highworth Library

• Monday, 26 September (10am-2pm) Penhill Library