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Keeping our libraries at the heart of the community

Posted onPosted on 28th Jul

An independent Government review into Nottinghamshire’s library services has praised its “enthusiastic and proactive staff team.”

Councillors at Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities Committee were briefed on the findings of The Local Government Association Peer Review.

Despite the pandemic, Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, which manages the library service on behalf of the council, was said to have kept its services at the heart of the community by offering alternative solutions for people to use what it offers.

The report confirmed Inspire moved swiftly to deliver an expanded virtual offer alongside library click and collect, home delivery and an extended help line.

Since its inception, Inspire has been responsible for delivering a range of cultural, art, library and learning services. Set up in April 2016, Inspire is an independent organisation with charitable aims and status. As well as overseeing the day to day management of more than 60 libraries across the county, it provides a range of programming including Nottinghamshire Archives, Inspire Youth Arts and Nottinghamshire Music Hub.

Coun John Cottee, chairman of the Communities Committee, said: “We welcome the findings of this report, confirming that our library service has been performing at a high level since its inception five years ago.

“I was delighted to see staff praised for their unwavering focus on both the customer and community during the Covid-19 pandemic. I know how vital libraries can be for their local residents and it has been fantastic to see how Inspire continued to deliver these services remotely to support library users.

“We’re continually striving for Nottinghamshire to have the best library service in the country. We are committed to keeping libraries open and keeping our services operating at the very highest level.”

Nottinghamshire Library’s receive more than 2.4 million visits per year, issue 2.9m loans, have 122,000 active borrowers (nearly 15 per cent of the population) and 9,500 children taking part in the summer reading challenge.

When compared with the library services of 122 other councils, active borrowers and visits to the website are in the top 25%, book stock performs above average and physical visits are similar to the average, although users spend more time in the libraries because Inspire offers a varied programme of events, activities, learning and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy.

Inspire will also play a key role in supporting local communities as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

It will offer support such as catch-up in education for children and young people; tackling loneliness and isolation; addressing a widespread loss of confidence and fear; upskilling people; supporting health and care; developing business and reviving the high street in a changing economy; and tackling widening social disadvantage and inequality.