Changes to Bristol libraries
Update on the proposed library review.
Background to the review of the service
In the 2016 Bristol City Council budget consultation, one of the proposals put forward was to explore alternative models for running the library service such as a trust or a mutual. A Public Service Mutual (PSM) is defined by Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as “an organisation which was in the public sector, continues to deliver public services, and has a significant degree of employee control”.
The library service had some support to assess what models were being used and considered nationally. The 2016/17 report produced by this work, concluded that a move to an alternative model would not find the required savings within the timescale and that there was no certainty that a new model would find sufficient savings.
As a result, work continued to find a solution able to find the required savings of £1.4m. Consultation was undertaken in June 2017 as part of the Your Neighbourhood consultation, in relation to a proposal that Bristol City Council run a reduced number of libraries, with the Central Library remaining as the core offer for the city centre, city and wider use in the region with two types of branch libraries: Area libraries and Local libraries. It was proposed that the number of Council - run libraries would reduce to 10.
The consultation gave people three options for which branch libraries would be retained and asked for their feedback in general, including any other suggestions they might have.
The library service also worked on a community resource offer, which was not connected to the core service (in terms of library management system or reservation systems).
In November 2017, The Mayor decided to defer the decision, so a decision still needs to be made.
Why this report was commissioned, timescales and funding sources for the report
In June 2017 the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced a funding stream to aid local authorities to examine the possibility of any library services becoming a mutual. The funding had to be spent by 31 March 2018.
We were contacted by external consultants in April 2017 but did not meet with them until after the election period in June 2017. The consultants, Mutual Ventures, had worked closely with DCMS to create an Alternative Delivery Models (ADM) Toolkit with the Library Taskforce and had worked with a variety of other local authorities on a transition to a staff mutual. They offered an ADM masterclass, which was delivered to the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on 11 September 2017.
Bristol Libraries applied to the DCMS for the funding in July and heard in August 2017 that this application was unsuccessful. Following feedback they reapplied to the next round, which was successful in October 2017. The total funding from DCMS was £17,000 to which the library service contributed £3,500, making a total of £20,500, to be spent by March 31 2018. The bid for funding was based on the proposal the library service was working on in 2017, which went out to consultation in the June 2017 “Your Neighbourhood” consultation. This was for a potential core library service and a community offer. It was expected that the decision to be taken about the future library service would be taken at the December 2017 cabinet meeting and the work from Mutual Ventures would follow this decision.
The Mayor made a decision to defer a decision on the future of the library service from December 4 2017 until the work by the consultants had ended on alternative delivery models. The outcome of the report provides background information which could be useful in the future depending on the decision as to the future of the library service. The report will only be relevant if a decision is made to take forward the proposal that went to consultation in June 2017 “for a potential core library service and a community offer (in order to meet a reduction of £1.4m in the budget)”.
Further information on GOV.UK
Consultation in 2017
We asked for your views in the Your Neighbourhood consultation in the summer of 2017. The consultation has now closed.
We received nearly 3,750 responses to this consultation, the results of which are available in the Your Neighbourhood 2017 consultation report. (pdf, 3.9MB) (opens new window)
Library fact sheets