THE team charged with implementing the council’s controversial libraries strategy has reached out to the Government’s Arts Council in an effort to secure funding for a new project.

If successful, the bid for £81,000 would be used to deliver Libraries Unbound, a project aimed at taking modular and flexible library services to communities in place of static libraries.

The borough’s libraries strategy, which will see the number of council-funded libraries reduced from 15 to just five, also cut the funding for Swindon’s mobile library service.

But, while this new project will take library services into communities, it is likely to target a different need than the traditional mobile provision, a service that had seen reduced levels of use in recent years.

The Libraries Unbound scheme is likely to be aimed at more in-need areas of the town, bringing a focus on literacy levels and engagement where it has otherwise been lacking.

Appropriately, given the nature of the project, the Cabinet Member for Libraries, Coun Mary Martin, took to social media to announce the submission of the funding bid.

She said: “Swindon’s £81,000 bid to the libraries innovations fund is called Libraries Unbound.

“The Libraries Unbound innovation is to take modular and flexible library services to communities, rather than have them come to static libraries.

“This follows through on our needs assessment findings that libraries in more deprived areas aren’t attracting the visitors they should, yet it’s those communities that most need support with literacy and learning.

“The outreach plans in our libraries strategy aim to address that through developing more engaging ways of enabling access to library services, and this bid will increase scale and impact of that work.”

Coun Martin thanked the council officers who she said had put a high quality and exciting bid together in very tight timescales.

Further detail should emerge in the coming weeks about how the Libraries Unbound concept would work in practice.

The Arts Council will now deliberate over which of the funding bids it will be able to support.

The scheme says it is looking for projects that develop innovative library service activity to benefit disadvantaged people and places in England.

With an available fund of up to £4m, Swindon’s libraries team are now hopeful that they will be able to secure the £80,000 they’re looking for.