Conversations with Communities: Devon’s Head of Libraries, Ciara Eastell, talks about the Council’s plans for public consultation:
Devon is a beautiful county with diverse communities and I’m proud to have led their Library Service for the past 5 years. Our service has faced a big challenge – we’ve had to save £3 million over the past 3 years, that’s 30% of the annual budget. My team and Devon’s communities have met this together and built a service that won the Bookseller Industry Award Library of the Year in 2013.
We have developed new services, like Free Fridays, which offer people looking for jobs help with new technology, and help with finding the information they need. We have also set up a range of public health interventions to support healthier lifestyles. Our Devon Book for Summer for the past 2 years has brought the best new books to the attention of readers across the county as part of an ongoing partnership with the publishers Transworld and our Summer Reading Challenge now reaches almost 10,000 children across Devon, 10 times more than it did 10 years ago.
Our staff have more freedom to work with other people and organisations; my colleagues are encouraged to seek funding for new projects that support and enhance our core roles and, as Head of the Library Service, I see my role as increasingly entrepreneurial, spotting opportunities to align the library’s contribution to public health, economic development and social care prevention. It’s no surprise, given our team work, that we’ve secured over £300,000 over the past 2 years to support these agendas and recently secured significant additional investment from public health to roll this work out still further over the next 3 years. Proof that we’re making the case successfully and that commissioners understand the potential of libraries.
Now we stand on the threshold of another challenge. Having saved £100 million over the past 3 years, Devon County Council now has to save a further £100 million in the next budget cycle. All services are subject to serious review and rationalisation. The Library Service needs to save a further £1.5 million over the next 3 years…..
Read the whole article (first published on April 2nd, 2014) on the Society of Chief Librarians website.