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Praise for volunteers after £1.4m saved from Staffordshire library service

Staffordshire | News | Published:

More than 1,100 volunteers have been praised for saving Staffordshire’s library services £1.4 million by giving up their time for free.

Staffordshire County Council House

A report to Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet showed the work of unpaid helpers in the libraries had topped the million pound mark.

A proposal for continued investment in Staffordshire’s library service up to 2025 has been recommended for approval by the county council’s cabinet.

The authority also revealed that while there are no plans to create more community managed libraries, support will continue for the existing 27, with five-year leases coming up for renewal in 2021.

Gill Heath, cabinet member for communities, said: “There has been a long tradition of volunteers in our libraries who supplement the expertise of professional staff and these hundreds of people do a fabulous job sharing their passion for the role of libraries in their community.”

Staffordshire County Council is also proposing to continue its support for community libraries, as well as underwriting agreed costs and providing access to IT and book stocks.

For further plans include asking community libraries to reclaim 80 per cent business rate relief, if they are eligible to do so and the scheduled introduction of a self-service pilot outside core hours at Stafford library.

Councillor Heath added: “We know the way in which people consume the written word has changed so much, and with that their use of libraries, which is why we have invested in our ebooks service too.

“But with more than 2.7m visits a year, our library service remains close to our hearts.We have seen the community managed service building on that love of libraries by introducing a whole range of activities within their walls to keep them relevant to their communities.”

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Recent success stories within the county’s library services included Business Enterprise Support, which manages Silverdale library, after it was awarded £34,000 from the NatWest Skills and Opportunities Fund to develop a business start-up help centre.

Meanwhile, more than 179,000 have taken part in specific activities promoting reading, including the Summer Reading Challenge for children, the Young Teen Fiction award, and baby Rhyme Time.

Nearly 325,000 also attended learning activities, including promoting school ready skills, and 13,500 took part in digital literacy skills sessions.

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