No Devon libraries are going to be closed!
In response to the groundswell of public support for keeping small libraries open, staffed by professional Librarians, the Devon Library authorities have come up with another way of making the required ‘savings’.
Devon County Council has today published its report on revised proposals for the Library Service. The full report, which goes before the County Council’s Cabinet on 8th October for formal approval, is here and there is a Press Release here.
As it is all rather a lot to take in, Peter Sheilds has kindly summarised the report:
” Devon Libraries have come up with a new way to save the £1.5m they need to save annually by 2016/17.
“Their original proposals included a target to save £400k (50%) off the budget for the 28 smaller libraries, of which Chagford is one, by getting them to move to local ‘community-led’ solutions, which would have relied on volunteers to replace paid staff in order to make the savings, or else risk closure. This was unpopular with the public countywide, so that plan has been abandoned. We appear to have won the day!
“Instead the County will transfer all Devon’s libraries, large and small, to a Charitable Trust or Mutual Society, from which the County Council will then commission the Library Service. No libraries will close and salaried librarians will be retained. Management and support staffing levels will be reduced over time. The model quoted is Suffolk, which in 2012 turned its libraries over to an Industrial Provident Society (still called ‘Suffolk Libraries’) from which Suffolk County Council now commissions the library service. That service is run by a salaried General Manager reporting to a management board made up of 8 representatives elected from the 40-odd Friends of Libraries groups around the County. See http://suffolklibraries.co.uk/about.
“In Devon, 10 libraries will be transferred to the new arrangements as a pilot starting in 2015. Once all the libraries have transferred, the move will save at least £400k in Business Rates paid for library premises, because charities can get exemption from business rates.They also envisage that these new organisational arrangements will save a further £500k through management and support efficiencies, wider opportunities for premises sharing, new sources of external income, etc.
“Their next step is to work up the detailed Business Case for the transfer, and to identify the 10 libraries to take part in the 2015 pilot.”