In June 2011 the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council agreed the tri-borough proposal to create an integrated libraries and archives service. This is about maintaining and improving libraries whilst making savings by organising the management and administration of the service across a wider geographic area.
Whilst they won’t all be available from day 1, there will be benefits for users, including being able to borrow books from across the three boroughs; announcements about this and other benefits will follow later in the year, once we have made all the necessary arrangements. Other benefits will include easier access to the specialist books, online resources and expert staff of all three boroughs; a strengthening of the place of libraries in local communities; and a single enquiry and information service using specialist resources to best effect across the three boroughs, making it easier for customers to get the services they need. Further announcements about these benefits will be made in due course.
Savings will be made by reducing management – for example only one Head of Service, rather than three, and some specialist roles will be combined to serve all three boroughs. Following best practice on how staff are deployed will also save money. There are opportunities to combine storage of less frequently used stock, making best use of buildings across the three boroughs, and reducing the cost of support services. As a larger service, there will be opportunities to get better commercial terms for contracts like the supply of books or IT systems, as well as attracting external funding to support projects and activities which will have a bigger impact than if they were just from one borough.
There is a lot of detail to be worked out but we plan to make rapid progress towards integration, with a target of having a new single management team in place before the end of 2011, and an integrated service by spring 2012.
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