Community pilot projects at 14 Suffolk libraries given the go ahead

Communities have been given the go ahead to take over all or part of the running of 14 libraries in Suffolk.

This month Suffolk County Council will start working with partners, including town and parish councils, community groups, a staff collective and an independent community company, to deliver seven pilot projects.

Those involved include Eye, Stradbroke and Debenham libraries, who will work together within one project, and Bungay library.

It is hoped that when the new schemes are launched in April 2012, library users will see more outreach services, local decision making and public services under one roof.

The move follows the abandonment of plans to divest the library service which could have resulted in the closure of 29 libraries.

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Instead the county council aims to retain ultimate responsibility for the service, although communities will have the opportunity to help run individual branches.

The libraries chosen for the pilot projects were selected due to their broad range of circumstances, such as building size and the make up of their communities, so as to inform the authority on the best way forward for the overall service.

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Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council's cabinet lead for libraries review, said: 'The groups we're working with have told us that they are very keen to be pilot projects and help develop the council's new approach to library service.

'We are very grateful for their support and will do everything we can to make their plans successful.

'We are of course still open to working with other groups who share our ambition of making Suffolk's library service a strong and sustainable model for the future.'

The pilot projects will be rolled out in stages.

Form now until September, work will be done on putting together the local business cases. Then from October unitl March next year, the plans will be finalised and consultation will take place in the relevant communities with the aim of launching the schemes in April.

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