Durham Libraries For You: get involved
We want your views on what you need from County Durham libraries. Whether you use your local library, access digital library services or currently do not use our libraries, we want to hear from you on how library services should be delivered in the future.
This engagement exercise took place between 7 January and 1 April 2022. further information please see "what happens next" section of this page.
- 39 buildings throughout County Durham - 12 are in town centres and 27 are in smaller communities
- a mobile library that delivers books to the rural west of the county in over 80 communities
- a book bus that enables people in care homes to choose their own books
- the Books on Wheels service that provides materials to people who are unable to access library buildings
The last review of our library service was held in 2012 and, following the public consultation, five areas of need were identified:
- reading for pleasure
- raising confidence, skills and aspirations through access to informal and formal learning facilities, for study, research, self-improvement and knowledge
- the development of individual literacy
- local community and public service information
- a place to meet and participate in community life
Our libraries are a vital community asset and they play a key role in our neighbourhoods and communities.
In recent years, we have experienced massive digital and technological advances and our services have had to revitalise to reflect this.
As a result of things such as Covid-19, we have learnt that we need to continually keep up to date and make sure our library services are fit for purpose and continue to provide the best experience and also attract new users.
At this stage, we want to gather your views and opinions, to help us understand:
- what makes you value the library services you use
- why you do not use County Durham libraries
- what you would look for in library services in the future
This will help us to:
- identify new priorities and needs for County Durham library services for all County Durham residents
- understand the role you wish the library within the community
- look at how the library and its services could support community needs and aspirations
- ensure we continue to provide a comprehensive, engaging, responsive and efficient service
- identify and recommend the use of new technologies in the library service
Have your say
The deadline for comments was 5.00pm on Friday 1 April 2022.
If you want to volunteer at a library, our libraries offers a range of opportunities for volunteers.
What happens next
This engagement exercise took place between 7 January and 1 April 2022. We gathered views via a dedicated email address, an online public survey, online and in person focus groups and community meetings. We spoke with a range of people including library customers, non-library customers, community groups, our Area Action Partnerships and young people via our Youth Council who designed and delivered specific engagement activities for their networks. We also held a dedicated online engagement session with library staff.
We received feedback from over 3,500 residents which provided clear insight into what people champion about libraries as recognised and valued community hubs providing a range of services, activities, events, and social interaction, at the heart of both rural and town communities. They are seen by many who currently use them as welcoming, free, safe, inclusive, and non-judgemental spaces that belong to everyone.
All of this feedback and information helped us to complete a comprehensive assessment of the library service. From this assessment a number of actions and recommendations have been identified which we are now working our way through. This covers:
- Reviewing the existing physical library buildings network.
- Reviewing library opening hours and ways in which access can be extended considering changing needs following COVID-19.
- Linking for people better, library outcomes (such as?) with our wider priorities as a council - (link to Council Plan page https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2366/Council-Plan).
- Investing in technology to improve our digital online offering.
- Reviewing the skills and training needed for our staff to support the changing needs and future ambitions of the service, its customers, and our communities.
- Reviewing of communications and marketing to increase visibility and awareness of the library service.
- Developing and deliver an appealing and accessible events programme that is relevant to each local community.
- Developing a plan for outreach including a review of the current Mobile Library and other community outreach services.
- Reviewing of the current library stock alongside further work to better understand the changing needs and wants of audiences, with a wider selection of books across all ages and categories.
At this stage we are currently taking forward the recommendation to consider investment in technology. For this we are taking a deeper look into our libraries digital services and online presence. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a vibrant and modern digital service to both existing and new customers. We will be speaking to those who access our digital services in the library buildings and those who use our online library services from home to gather ideas on digital resources and technologies that could be used in our libraries.
We will use this further insight to develop a digital strategy of libraries. We will continue to update you on how we will progress with plans around digital improvements as part of the wider transformation of our library services.
- Libraries for You consultation
- 03000 26 0000