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Ambition to keep all 47 Norfolk libraries open, despite national closures

PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:00 22 January 2020

A commitment is to be made over the future of Norfolk's libraries. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A commitment is to be made over the future of Norfolk's libraries. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A commitment that all 47 of Norfolk's libraries will remain open is due to be made, as the future direction of the service is agreed.

Jan Holden, head of libraries at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJan Holden, head of libraries at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

While nearly 800 public libraries have shut across the United Kingdom over the past decade, Norfolk County Council has resisted shutting them here.

And, at a county council next Wednesday, councillors are due to agree the Norfolk Library Service's long-term strategy, making clear the commitment to keeping the 47 libraries open.

Councillors on the infrastructure and development select committee will be asked to agree to the strategy.

It states: "Norfolk Library and Information Service is nationally recognised as being one of the best library services in the country and continually receives recognition and praise for its innovative and impactful work.

Norfolk has bucked the trend when it comes to libraries, keeping them open when hundreds have been shut nationally. 

Picture: James BassNorfolk has bucked the trend when it comes to libraries, keeping them open when hundreds have been shut nationally. Picture: James Bass

"We believe that our libraries are an integral part of the public service offer in Norfolk, and have a key role to play in supporting individuals and communities to thrive.

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"Libraries in Norfolk inspire and stimulate curiosity, creativity and empathy by supporting reading, learning and information for people in Norfolk."

In the document, Jan Holden, head of the library and information service, states: "Nationally there has been a trend to outsource or close libraries.

"However the approach in Norfolk recognises the central importance of libraries in being ideally placed to reach out to our communities and be a safe and welcoming face of Norfolk County Council."

However, there is an acknowledgement that the locations of some libraries could change - as recently happened in Attleborough.

Last year, that library switched location from Connaught Road to a new home in the Attleborough Community and Enterprise Centre, barely 350 metres away, in Church Street.

The change was a pilot project for a new way of working to join up services, with other community organisations using rooms at the building.

The report states: "We will review the best locations and facilities needed to support local communities, ensuring that any new or relocated library facility will be located in population growth areas, close to other services, retail centres and transport hubs."

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