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Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee discusses Suffolk Libraries

On Wednesday 29 June the county council’s Scrutiny Committee discussed a report on Suffolk Libraries. This report reviewed how well Suffolk Libraries has delivered the library service for the county council, with a focus on our performance and achievements so far and how use of libraries has changed. It also considered what opportunities there may be for Suffolk Libraries to help the county council further in the future.

Suffolk Libraries was represented at the meeting by our Chairman Tony Brown, our Chief Executive Alison Wheeler and Peter Robinson from the Thurston Library Friends group.

Alison Wheeler, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries said:

As we approach our fourth anniversary, we are pleased that the Scrutiny report recognises the significant achievement of Suffolk Libraries since the service was transferred in 2012.

We feel we have consistently delivered to the county council’s specification and increased the range and diversity of library services, whilst still delivering significant savings. I think we have created something very special and impressive here in Suffolk.

We have extraordinary community involvement, we have staff, who believe in what we do, and we have customers who value our firm grip on what they had before, and support our bold moves to innovate for the future.

Initial figures for the past year show our performance compares well to that of most other library services. Our key achievements have already been well reported:

  • We have saved over 30% from the original council library budget in 2009/10
  • We have kept all library buildings open and even managed to increase and improve opening hours in several cases, with the support of our community groups
  • Customers value what we do and have given us very positive feedback
  • Staff are proud to work for us
  • We continue to deliver an even wider and increasing range of activities and services than ever before. We support people in many ways and Suffolk’s library experience offers people of all ages access to information and reading materials, as well as significant educational, social, cultural and wellbeing opportunities.
  • The library service is more engaged with local people than before with library community groups playing an ever increasing role in supporting their libraries and ensuring they deliver what their community needs.

Suffolk Libraries has an important role to play in the future of the county, particularly in key areas such as literacy, economy and health and wellbeing. We will continue to develop and strengthen the reading and literacy experience available from libraries. We are also especially aware of how important it is for people in rural areas to have access to a library service.

Read the previous update on our 2016-2017 budget.