Four weeks left to have your say on future of Dorset libraries

THERE are four weeks remaining in the first phase of Dorset Council’s #LetsTalkLibraries public consultation.

Launched at the end of October, the consultation looks to the future of Dorset’s library service and how it can best meet the needs of residents now and over the next ten years.

The current library strategy is 11 years old. Over those 11 years, there have been significant changes in public behaviour and digital technology, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt.

Library users and non-library users, as well as businesses, partners, and Dorset Council employees, are being asked to share their views to help shape a modern and sustainable service.

During the council’s last review of libraries in 2011, campaigners fought hard to save Lyme Regis Library from closure. Charmouth lost its council-run service and now runs a community library.

Dorset Council has not said that the current consultation will lead to any closures.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “Our libraries are at the heart of Dorset’s communities, and we want them to stay this way.

“As well as a safe space, they provide many highly valued services for residents of all ages such as activities and events, skills and learning, digital access and support, and art and cultural exhibitions.

“They also provide free access to Wi-Fi and public-access PCs. In the future, they could offer other kinds of support to businesses, partners, and residents.

As part of the consultation, we have a dedicated children’s survey and a business, partner, and employee survey and I encourage everyone to get involved.

“This is an exciting time and views shared now will inform the next stage of the consultation process – so it is important that we hear from everyone. You have until Friday 7 January to join the conversation and have your say!

Cllr Miller speaks further about the consultation in the video above.

The survey will close on Friday, January 7 2022. The survey responses will be brought together with evidence around local need and responses from our partners.

A draft strategy will then be produced which will be the focus of a second consultation, to be held in summer 2022.

In addition to the main survey, there is a dedicated children’s survey for ages 5-15 years. This can be completed on behalf of children who you care for.

To find both surveys visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/lets-talk-libraries

Support is also available via customer services where an officer can help to fill in the survey over the phone – call 01305 221 000.

Those who need paper copies of the survey can access these by visiting their local library.

To say thank you to those who complete the survey, there will be the option to be entered into a prize draw to win one of two prizes, either a Kindle Paperwhite (8GB) or an Amazon Echo Dot, for the adult survey.

Children who complete the survey could win a £25 Amazon Voucher (three vouchers will be awarded). Employees of Dorset Council are not eligible to enter the prize draw. Full T&C’s can be viewed online.

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