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Key role for libraries in Norfolk

21 February 2020

Libraries in Norfolk are more relevant than ever – helping people stay well, find work and update their skills – a new report reveals.

Norfolk County Council remains committed to having 47 branch libraries, most of which are open for 69 hours per week through the Open Library self-service scheme.

The latest Norfolk library strategy says that every £1 invested in libraries secures a further £8 in social value – which means benefits to the community.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “I’m proud that our libraries play a key role in supporting people and enabling communities to thrive.
“They are no longer just a place where you borrow books – they’re the face of the county council in our communities, hosting a wide range of services and activities.”

The report highlights:

  • The importance of libraries to literacy for all ages, by encouraging daily reading
  • Extended opening hours through the Open Library scheme, which enables people to use self-service outside of core opening hours
  • Support for digital inclusion and skill building, such as the Learn My Way programme
  • Support for the early years and family service with bounce and rhyme, baby weighing and chat sessions
  • Work with public health, including weight management and quit smoking sessions
  • Adult learning and skills work
  • Tackling social isolation, through community events and “just a cuppa” sessions
  • Work to boost the economy, with the Millennium Library and branches in King’s Lynn, Thetford and Great Yarmouth offering support for business start-ups, self-employment and business growth

The report notes that other areas have closed or outsourced libraries but that Norfolk remains committed to having 47 libraries “based in our communities, where they can be the face of the county council and best meet local people’s needs.”

It says that if new libraries are opened or existing ones relocated, they will be “in population growth areas, close to other services, retail centres and transport hubs.”
The strategy’s key aims are for the service to be:

  • Open and accessible
  • Relevant and responsive
  • Informative and impactful
  • Collaborative and consistent

The council’s cabinet is recommended to approve the report, when it meets at 10am on Monday, 2 March. Read the report. The meeting will be webcast live and a recording available to view afterwards.

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