Devon’s libraries become independent staff and community owned organisation
Posted on: 1 April 2016
Today (1 April) marks the start of a bright future for Devon’s libraries as a new and independent organisation operating outside of the County Council.
Libraries Unlimited, a staff and community-owned social enterprise, was established with the support of the council following extensive public consultation on the future of the library service.
They will now run the library service on behalf of the County Council in a move to secure the future of all 50 of the County’s libraries and save a further £1.5 million in addition to the £3 million already saved from the library service budget over the past three years.
The County Council remains responsible for the library service, but now commission the delivery of the service from Libraries Unlimited, which is managed by Chief Executive Ciara Eastell and led by a Board of Trustees recruited from library staff, library Friends Groups and independent members of the Devon community.
Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said:
“This is a landmark day for the future of Devon’s award winning library service.
“An immense amount of hard work has gone in to getting this far, and I am proud that we have delivered a strong and sustainable model for the future of Devon’s library service that has professional staff and communities at its heart.
“We have not closed a single library in Devon, despite significant reductions in government funding. Nor have we replaced our professional staff with volunteers.
“By creating a public service mutual to run our library service we will not only save money, but also give libraries the opportunity for greater community involvement, more flexibility, focus and opportunity to work collaboratively with customers, communities and partners to deliver a service that meets local need.
“I have every confidence that Libraries Unlimited will be a huge success, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and supporting them as they embark on this new and exciting chapter.”
Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited, said:
“Devon is proud of its award winning library service, which is highly regarded as one of the best and most innovative in the country at adapting and developing in response to community needs.
“Libraries Unlimited is committed to continuing this excellent track record and providing a modern, vibrant and sustainable library service. Bringing ideas, imagination, information and knowledge to communities and people’s lives is our vision and one which our staff, Friends Groups and Board of Trustees are committed to.”
Residents will continue to have uninterrupted access to the library service as the transfer takes place. Library users will still be able to use their Devon Libraries membership cards to borrow books and other resources and library opening hours will remain the same.
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