A five year deal to secure support for community run small libraries, has been agreed.
At the Powys County Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, September 15, Cllr Rachel Powell, portfolio holder for Culture, explained that the proposal went back over 18 months, when consultations were held with libraries under threat of closure.
At the time closing them would have saved £200,000.
Since then talks have taken place and some communities have stepped forward to confirm that they are willing to work with Powys Library Service to keep them open.
Cllr Powell, said: “This is really significant and reflects a lot of long term planning and strategy with communities, scrutiny and local members.”
“A consultation had been held between February and April 2019, over the future of libraries.
“This acknowledged the budgetary reductions for the future.”
She believed that working with communities on proposals would “prevent prevents a lengthy and costly legal challenge” if libraries had just been closed
Cllr Powell added: “It may well be easier to close a library but they are an absolute essential necessity for our communities.
“Thankfully there has been a huge willingness from communities to work with us, but they need assurances of a basic offer we can provide them as a council.”
Council Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent – Llangynidr) believed this was a “win – win situation.”
Adult Social Services portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander (Banwy – Independent: “Looking at the post-Covid landscape, lots of people are going to be working from home.
“Our residents might be looking to use the library as an IT backup in the way many of us have done in the past.”
“Your own broadband has gone down and you take your laptop to the library.”
“If home working is going to be the reality of many of our residents we need to build that resilience in to our system and libraries are ideal for that.”
The decision was voted through unanimously.
The commitment for five year covers:
ongoing provision and circulation of library stock,
regular weekly deliveries to each library,
access to library specific online resources and management systems
access to supported general IT equipment and internet usage for the public
professional staff support and training from the library service.
The report adds that “specific individual agreements” will be worked up with each community group depending on local circumstances and solutions proposed.