Residents help decide library services

RURAL residents are to attend discussion groups as part of a review of library services in East Sussex.

The review is being undertaken by East Sussex County Council, which is is examining how it provides rural and mobile library services across the county.

Several areas of the library service are being reviewed to make sure that the best services are provided at the best price – and in the right place at the right time for residents.

They are:

    * services provided to rural areas

    * mobile libraries and mobile office with computer access

    * libraries within a five mile radius of central Eastbourne.

The groups aim to find out how people would like to access library services and how services fit into current lifestyle and travel patterns.

The council said it wanted to ensure it was giving residents the best service at the best price – and in the right place at the right time.

Originally due to take place in June, the discussion group meetings will now take place in July.

Like all local authorities, East Sussex is keen to find the best way of providing library services during a time of public spending cutbacks.

Earlier this year, it said it wanted to hear from as many people and organisations as possible to help improve the service and build a library network that met the needs of our residents."

East Sussex has relatively few libraries considering its population, according to the local authority's governance and community services business plan for 2011-2012 (pdf).

This is reflected in our high catchment population per service point, it says.

Other key issues include levels of stock that are lower than average. Buildings are, on the whole, fairly small and high levels of stock cannot be held in all places.

"Issues and visits are lower than average as some residents do not have ready access to our libraries due to the rural nature of the county," says the plan.

"Opening hours are also a factor here."

On average, however, 88% of East Sussex customers rate their library as very good or good.

Lower levels of customer satisfaction in a few libraries reflect some dissatisfaction with library buildings which is being addressed through the refurbishment of a number of libraries.

Meanwhile, remote access to library services is increasing rapidly, with visits the county's online information increasing significantly each year.

Special link: RSN Online case studies - Providing library services in rural areas



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