This list of ’10 things you may not know about Gloucestershire Library Service’ has been put together by a former senior Gloucestershire librarian at the request of a County Councillor who is opposing the library cuts. It will be circulated amongst County Councillors at tomorrow’s debate of our 12,000 plus name county-wide petition.
At approximately £5.5 million, the Library Service represents just over 1% of the County Council’s annual spend. This equates to 19p per week for each resident of the county.
Over 3.3 million books and other media are borrowed every year from the county’s libraries. Of these, 34%, or over 1.1 million, are children’s books. The encouragement of reading is a key part of library work. Children’s use of libraries is increasing. National research on the Summer Reading Challenge has shown a significant impact on literacy levels. From birth, babies are able to join the library, borrowing board books and enjoying Baby Bounce & Rhyme sessions, some averaging 50 babies per library session per week.
Half of all our libraries are already co-located with other organisations, thus reducing running costs and increasing footfall. These include Longlevens Library serving both the community and the Junior School, the European Blues Association housed in Gloucester Library, the Community Project newly housed at Brockworth library, and Stroud Valleys Credit Union in Stroud Library. 9 Libraries have Children’s Centres.
The virtual 24/7 library already exists – enabling joining, searching of the library catalogue, renewal of loans and requesting/reserving books. Access to a wide range of online reference sources is also provided eg newspapers, Ancestry.com, National Archives, business information, British Standards and Which?
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau estimates that 4 out of 10 people in the county don’t have access to a PC at home. Gloucestershire libraries have over 350 bookable broadband PCs in constant use for access to the internet, email and software applications, with many libraries providing volunteer ‘IT Buddies’ and staff support. Home seekers are helped to complete mandatory online applications for social housing.
Many libraries operate housebound clubs. Volunteers transport housebound people to libraries to borrow books, gain social contact and have talks from relevant organisations e.g. Trading Standards, Warm Front, Crime Prevention Officers etc. The Library Service also funds RNIB talking books for people with severe visual impairment.
The Home Link mobile service takes books to residential homes, mainly for elderly people. Last year it loaned nearly 50,000 books to people who cannot access libraries. This service is to be scrapped!!
The Books on Prescription service, in partnership with the NHS, provides appropriate self-help books prescribed by GPs for individual customers.
In its book buying, the library service operates as part of a consortium of South West authorities which achieves very significant discounts on the purchase of new books.
All DVDs, CDs and computer games loaned from libraries generate income to support the overall library budget.