• Ottery library wins selection for community pilot project!

    11th December 2014 | News | Claire
  • What fantastic news and massive congratulations to Friends of Ottery Library, and in particular, chairman, James Goddard. The group has worked its socks off to achieve this!  Ottery St Mary will keep its library, thanks to the tenacity and intelligent campaigning of its residents. 

    And the open-mindedness of councillors and officers, who wanted very much to retain as many libraries as possible across the county.

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    See Devon County Council press release here – https://www.devonnewscentre.info/pilot-community-project-launches-with-12-libraries-2/ 

    Devon County Council will work with the dedicated community groups to help shape the new organisation and try out new ways of involving local people so they can have more say on how their library is run.

    Those chosen include Ashburton, Bampton, Bovey Tracey, Braunton, Colyton, Dartmouth, Ivybridge, Kingskerswell, Moretonhampstead, Ottery St Mary, Salcombe and Torrington.

    Topsham Library has been working with the Estuary League of Friends and will also form part of the pilot.

    Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the library service, said:

    “I am really looking forward to working with these pilot groups to explore and develop their ideas for local solutions to meet their community’s needs.

    “Their support is vital to the successful future of our library service, and we are pleased to have received so many enthusiastic ideas from every corner of the county and from communities of all shapes and sizes.

    “Every community is different, and each will have their own ideas and styles of working so there is much work to be done and the pilot period is undoubtedly going to bring many opportunities, lots of scope for innovation and probably a few challenges.

    “Over the next month we will be working with each group to understand what they would like to achieve and what resources they need to enable this to happen.

    “The ideas we trial, and the knowledge we gain from this pilot will benefit every library in Devon, and each community will have a role in shaping a new way of operating and delivering our library service.

    “We have never been in any doubt that residents value their library service, and as we have shown over the years, we are equally committed to continuing to provide a service that meets their needs. The response we had to our public consultation earlier this year was unprecedented, and this pilot again shows that communities clearly share our ambition of making savings, retaining our professional staff and delivering a strong and sustainable model for the future of Devon’s library service.”

    Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) will be working with the Council to help support the community groups throughout the pilot project. Programme Manager Karen Nolan said:

    “This is an exciting opportunity for community groups to get involved in a new way of delivering services.  They have so much to offer but can’t do it alone.  Throughout this process Devon County Council has consistently demonstrated its commitment to working alongside and supporting these groups and I really hope this will continue to ensure these pilots will have a real impact.”

    The pilot project, which will run for twelve months, is part of the Council’s plans to safeguard the futures of all 50 of its libraries, despite having to make significant savings due to reductions in Government funding.

    Last month the council’s Cabinet approved plans for a new operating model for the entire library service, which could include creating a mutual society or trust that would run the libraries on the council’s behalf.

    Such a move could save Devon County Council at least £400,000 a year in business rates, and mean greater flexibility and freedom for the service to secure additional funding and income which the Council can not access.

    The Council is keen to hear what people think about plans for an alternative operating model for the whole service in the future. Comments can be sent via the Council’s Tough Choices website or by post to Devon Libraries, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter EX2 7NL until the end of January.