Libraries in Westminster provide an ever growing range of services and activities, with 3 in 4 people who visit libraries doing something other than borrowing books. The service is one of the best resourced and best performing in the country, providing 12 libraries across the City and extensive online resources. Whilst books will remain the foundation of the service, the council remains focused on evolving library services to make sure they continue to meet the changing needs of residents.
Westminster has taken a pioneering step by forming an independent Library Advisory Board and working with local people to develop a new vision for 21st century libraries. The board will consider how libraries fit with other council services, how community stakeholders could use them and what on-going changes in technology mean for libraries. The board will develop a vision for Westminster’s libraries and archives, including recommending where future investment should be focused. The Board’s recommendations and vision will then inform Westminster’s strategic approach to Libraries.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member Environment, Sports and Community, Westminster City Council, said:
“I am intensively proud of the innovation we see in our libraries. From self-service checkouts and the massive growth in the number of e-books we loan out to our initiatives for children, like Booksmart learning groups and our Esports training club – Westminster are committed to defining what the future of libraries could be.
“But we cannot stand still or ignore the changing way people are using libraries. People are as likely to want to learn a new skill in a library as they are to borrow a book.
“By having an open discussion with residents and experts, we can help design a vision for what an exceptional 21st Century library service will look like and what more it can do for residents.”
Chris Cotton, the chair of the Libraries Advisory Board, said:
“We are seeing some tough spending choices being made by libraries around the UK, along with all local government services, however they remain a hugely important service for a very large number of people. Libraries are looking at how to how best to maintain their core lending services whilst meeting community needs for social spaces, learning opportunities and cultural activities.
“I am encouraged that Westminster are thinking strategically about the future of the service and asking the people using the libraries what they most value and what more could libraries do in the future.
“This wide reaching review could help inform the debate about the future of UK libraries for years to come.”