Council's Controversial Plans for Libraries

Barons Court to close, Sands End to relocate

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The closure of Barons Court Library and the relocation of Sands End Library are among controversial new ideas being proposed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Both of these, according to the council do not offer good value for money, and it claims the proposed changes could help to save around £300,000 a year.

This saving would be ploughed back into the library services and used to help cut the council’s £133 million debt mountain.

Instead of supporting these smaller libraries, the council says it intends to spend up to £80,000 improving the busy Fulham library, installing state-of-the-art technology and IT, self-service terminals and new furniture and is seeking partners to share this large building, helping to drive down costs and attract more customers. For example, adult learning classes are already delivered from the library.

Cllr Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Services, says: " In the current financial climate, the days of small neighbourhood libraries, such as Barons Court and Sands End, which serve relatively small numbers of people are coming to an end. Instead, we want to move to fewer, better state-of-the-art town centre libraries that attract more customers and are more economical to operate especially where costs can be shared with other services to customers.

"The unprecedented success of the new Shepherds Bush Library goes to show just what can be achieved by modernising library services. We are incredibly excited at the prospect of replicating that ' More than a Library' model at other locations across the borough."

These proposals are the latest of a raft of cost-cutting measures which the council says are necessary to help cut its debts of £133 million. Says Cllr Smith: " This transformation of library services is about offering residents the best value-for-money deal possible while balancing our books. The council is prioritising people over buildings and we simply can’t afford to run these small libraries if we are serious about tackling our financial problems."

Here the details of the proposals:

Barons Court Library
This is the second worst performing library in the borough, with the second lowest number of visits, visits per hour of opening and second highest costs per issue and visit. The council is considering relocating other services into the building, to enable the release of a council asset elsewhere for disposal.

Sands End Library
Sands End Library is housed in the Sands End Community Centre, which is up for sale as part of the council’s plans to sell assets in order to pay off its debts. This library is the least used in the borough. It issues only 13 items per hour at a cost of over £10 per loan, £4 more than at Hammersmith. Proposals to open a community hub with a library provision elsewhere in the ward are currently under discussion.

Elsewhere in the borough, there are plans to cancel a mobile library service which stops in Shepherd's Bush, the relocation of Hammersmith Library and the disposal of both its current building and the old Shepherd's Bush Library, which has been empty since the library moved to Westfield. The council says it is currently in discussion with the Bush Theatre about taking over the building.

The council says it wants as many people are possible to register their views on the plans and will be consulting the public and asking for feedback until September 15.

You can have your say by visiting the Library Strategy Consultation or by filling in the paper questionaire available at all borough libraries.

There will also be a series of library open days, which are open to all residents.

They are on:

Tuesday August 24, Hammersmith Library
Thursday September 2, Fulham Library
Tuesday September 7, Shepherds Bush Library

Each event runs from 2pm until 7pm.

July 30, 2010