Shirley Library – threat of closure

We have been asked to bring the following to the attention of members …

Listening to residents to shape Croydon’s future library services

Croydon Council is proposing to consult residents on changes to its library service that will make it easier for more people across the borough to enjoy books and activities. Proposals include longer opening hours including weekends, improved facilities in fewer library buildings, and more staff to provide a new outreach service.

Since the last changes were introduced in April 2022, the council has been listening to residents and staff who have said that despite best efforts, the current service model isn’t working and that it doesn’t provide the opening hours needed or enough of the services that residents want.

The council has worked with Activist Group who have been looking at how the council can make better use of the existing resources to meet the needs of Croydon’s residents. This research has included looking at demand, local need, usage, demographics, the condition of library buildings and resident feedback. Their proposed recommendations are for a more sustainable library service. It proposes longer opening hours including weekends, with more events and services available to residents

To make these improvements, four library buildings; Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Sanderstead, and Shirley are proposed to be closed. This proposal is based on analysis of the buildings including visitor numbers, size and condition of the buildings, the size and needs of the communities they serve and running costs. No job losses are proposed, with the council intending to use the majority of the money saved from building costs to increase the number of library staff to provide the extended opening and outreach services.

Six libraries (Central, Ashburton, Thornton Heath, Norbury, Selsdon and Coulsdon) are proposed to be open five to six days a week, including Saturdays, and will deliver an extensive offer of books, wifi, PCs, study spaces and events. These libraries are well-used and have accessible buildings that meet local needs. Future investment in these sites is recommended to improve the facilities and extend the opening times and services available.

For New Addington, Purley and South Norwood Libraries — The council is proposing to introduce community hubs in these areas, where a library would be available alongside other services such as family and adult education services and community partnerships. Through the consultation, residents will be asked for their views and ideas for developing the offer for these libraries and help design how library services can be improved in these areas, to make them more accessible and better used by local people.

Other library services – such as the home library service and the extensive digital offer, including e-books and magazines, online learning and training resources – are set to continue and be improved as part of the future service.

A 10-week consultation is set to launch from Wednesday 7th February to Wednesday 17th April where residents are encouraged to have their say on the proposals and share their ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the library service. Details will be available on the Library Website and you can email with your views. The council is keen to hear the views of those affected by the proposed library closures, including any impacts and alternative options to closing buildings and improving the service for residents. The consultation will also ask for ideas for future library outreach services and community venues that could be used to reach more people. Feedback received will help the council develop further recommendations which will go back to cabinet in May 2024.

Please note the online survey is due to go live Thursday 8th February after the initial webinar introducing the proposals.  The survey will be live for 10 weeks from 8 February until 18 April.    I will send you a link to the online survey as soon as it is published.

For your reference, the Cabinet papers are here:

Following the Webinar we are also setting up an initial round of public meetings and drop in sessions so that there can be a local conversation about the proposals, especially in areas with greatest impact.

List of public meetings scheduled in February: (to include)

Saturday 10th     2pm-4pm                           Central Library drop in (Cllr Stranack will be attending 2-3pm)
Thursday 15th   7pm-8.30pm                      Shirley Library public meeting, St George the Martyr, Church Hall, Elstan Way, Shirley, Croydon CR0 7PR
Friday 16th           10am-12pm                       Shirley Library drop in

Saturday 17th    2pm-4pm                            Broad Green library drop in
Monday 19th      7pm- 8.30pm                    Bradmore Green Library public meeting, Congregational Church, Coulsdon Road, Old Coulsdon CR5 1EH
Tuesday 20th      2pm – 4pm                         Bradmore Green Library drop in
Tuesday 20th     6.30pm – 8.30pm            Sanderstead Library public meeting – Sanderstead United Reformed Church, 3 Sanderstead Hill, Sanderstead CR2 0HB
Wednesday 21st 10am – 12 noon              Sanderstead Library drop in
Friday  23rd        10am – 12noon                New Addington Library drop in