Surrey County Council is planning to work closely with communities across the county to ensure their library services remain open with an updated library service.

There are 52 libraries across Surrey now and over a period of around 12-18 months the Council will shape proposals in collaboration with local communities, partners – including Surrey Heartlands – and users of the library service.

Dave Hill, Director of Children, Families, Lifelong learning and culture at Surrey said: “Libraries are more than just bricks and mortar, they offer a service to a community and that service will work best when it’s shaped in collaboration with that community.

“The number of people visiting libraries simply to borrow books is falling and we know that events and activities in libraries attract more people. Our plans to work with communities, to shape a new library service that works for them, will help halt this decline and breathe new life into our libraries.”

Topics for exploration include ways of maximising the use of technology to ensure the library service is fit for the future. Digital swipe cards could extend opening hours – giving early morning and after work library access to suit working people. Click and collect services could ensure that users of smaller library spaces still have access to the full range of books and can collect and return them at convenient places.

The Council plans to invest in some of Surrey’s largest libraries to offer a Library Plus service, co-locating other services there. Using libraries as platforms for other services allows residents to access valuable services in the same location. Many other libraries will stay in their current locations, but with increased focus on offering services and activities which attract new users.

Ten libraries in Surrey are already run and managed successfully by community partners with support from library staff and dedicated volunteers. Embracing working with communities will help bring them closer to how their services are developed and enable them to influence the way they’re delivered.