Posted: Friday 23rd March 2018
Terry Douris, Cabinet Member for Libraries, Hertfordshire County Council:
"I have been in my current role, as Cabinet Member for Libraries for nearly a year now. It is a great job and one I am thoroughly enjoying. When I started, I made it my business to go and visit each and every one of Hertfordshire’s libraries which I did partly to celebrate Libraries Week. On my travels around the county I have met so many individuals and families, who share my love for libraries and everything they offer.
I have also been struck by the way the service has changed to meet the needs of today’s library users. Our creator spaces at Hemel Hempstead and Watford libraries, allow people to test drive new technologies, like 3D printing in a relaxed and modern environment. The recent refurb of Hitchin library, resplendent with its very own ‘Platform 9 3/4s’ is tremendous. Looking ahead we are in discussions with Stevenage and East Herts councils about future developments for libraries in their areas.
I am proud of our libraries and the role they play at the heart of our communities, and I want this to continue long into the future. It’s for this reason that we have been asking library users for their views on our consultation on alternative approaches to delivering library services. The motivation for doing this is so that we can continue to develop our services despite the financial challenges we are facing. Whilst we have additional savings to make, I would prefer that we consider all available options, rather than making any ill-considered reduction in service.
By trying something new, we could potentially access a range of additional benefits, including grants we can’t access at the moment and also achieve a potential saving on non-domestic rates. Whatever we decide to do, I am determined that we will not be selling off or privatising libraries – we have got a statutory responsibility to provide library services, so any independent library service will still be accountable to the council and there local residents. Councillors will take the final decision on the proposals in April.
Finally, I would encourage anyone who has not visited their local library recently, to go and see what’s on offer. You will be pleasantly surprised."