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Luton Borough Council

03/12/2021 - We need your help to shape a modern library service for Luton

Luton Council has launched a public consultation today (3 December) to seek views from local communities about what they would like from our library service.

The Council aims to create a modern, sustainable and better library service that will meet the needs of people who live, work, study and visit the town. There are no proposals to close any existing libraries.

Libraries remain a priority service for the council and we absolutely appreciate how much they are valued by our local communities, so we’re calling on all residents, local communities, staff and our partners to help us shape the future of Luton’s library service. Whether you’re an active library user or have not visited our libraries before, we want to hear from you.

We are conducting a two-phase consultation: the first phase will take place just over 12 weeks from 3 December to 27 February 2022 and will involve gathering views to help us to further develop future proposals.

Many of our library buildings need upgrading and modernising to ensure the library service is fit for purpose and suitable for future use, so we are proposing to:
  • consider alternative models to make library spaces more adaptable and cost effective
  • identify alternative and better ways we could use library buildings
  • consider relocating (not closing) some of the existing libraries
  • look at the feasibility of sharing library buildings and spaces with other services 
  • examine how we can extend library services to communities currently not served by a physical library 
  • investigate the potential of ‘open library technology’, which has been effective in increasing the opening hours and footfall at libraries in other areas
Cllr Khtija Malik, Portfolio Holder for public health and wellbeing said: “Libraries are at the heart of our communities and provide valuable services including digital access, job clubs, health and wellbeing activities and book lending. But like most towns across the country, the way people are using Luton’s libraries is changing; and although the covid pandemic has clearly had an impact on this, prior to the crisis, visitor numbers were falling and there were fewer active borrowers and book loans.

“Our goal is for the library service to inspire people to read, learn and access trusted sources of information, enabling individuals to improve their economic and social wellbeing. This will be achieved through the provision of easily accessible physical and online information, welcoming community spaces, access to health and wellbeing services, and supporting skill development to use this information for all.
“Our library service is therefore fundamental in breaking the link between information poverty and income poverty, and in reducing social isolation towards achieving the Luton 2040 vision.”

The easiest way to share your views is by completing our survey online at engage.luton.gov.uk/libraries. Completing our survey online saves time, postage and the environment.

You can also request a paper copy of the survey from any Luton library from next week or by emailing [email protected] Paper copies of surveys can be returned to any library or posted to: Freepost Luton Borough Council, Library Consultation1.

Surveys must be completed and returned by midnight on Sunday, 27 February. The survey can also be provided in a different format or language on request just email [email protected] or call 01582 548554 and state your requirements.

We have also arranged a series of daytime and evening events online and in person so the public can hear more about the proposals, ask questions and provide feedback on the consultation verbally. Please go to our website for details of dates and times.

We will be applying social distancing at our in person events so the number of people who can attend will be restricted so please register to attend an event as soon as possible by emailing [email protected] or calling 01582 548554.

Cllr Khtija Malik, added: “I want to reassure residents that no decisions will be made until we have listened to their views. This is a great opportunity for local people to help shape the future of Luton’s libraries and I would encourage all library users and even those who don’t or have never used our library service to have their say and tell us what you think about our proposals and also offer alternative options that we will consider.”

The second phase of the consultation will involve us consulting on the firm proposals identified as a result of phase one and assessing how changes to the library service will impact service users.

A decision will be made by the council’s Executive next year following both consultations. All the feedback we receive will be collated and analysed. Reports based on these analyses will be produced and will be publicly available and will be used to inform the decision making process.

© 2022 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ