Hackney Council announces it is keeping all eight libraries open

Hackney Council is keeping all eight of its libraries open and has a budget of around £8.1m in 2011/12 for its library and archives service.

At last night’s meeting of full Council, members approved the 2011/2012 budget for Hackney. As part of this budget, there will be no front line cuts to the services the Council provides to residents – there will be no raising of eligibility criteria for home care for the elderly; no closure of children’s centres and no reduction in the cleanliness of our streets.

In identifying savings, the strategy has been very clearly to protect front-line services and drive out efficiencies from the back office by utilising technology and implementing improved ways of working.

Councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Community Services said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce that Hackney Council is keeping all its eight libraries open. We will also continue to offer some of the longest library opening hours in the country. We are committed to investing and improving the service which is why we have agreed a budget of around £8.1 million this year.

“And later this year, the new Dalston C.L.R James Library and Hackney Archives will be opening its doors to the public. This state of the art facility will be one of the largest public libraries to open in the UK this year – something we are very proud of.

“We are also improving the offer within our libraries by introducing free Wifi access and upgrading all our computer facilities. Every library will have full self service technology, which allows staff to spend more time away from the counter helping customers. To ensure that this is sustainable, we will be making some changes to the way that we deliver services over the coming months, but we will continue to deliver an excellent service to our customers.

“Over the last few months, we have been encouraging residents to join their local library and see what’s on offer. In a time when we all have to tighten our belts, libraries are more essential than ever to the needs of the local community. Not only can you borrow books, DVDs and CDs from your local library, you can use a PC or study, search for jobs, develop your skills and find information about a myriad of subjects – and all free.”

The Council has been investing in libraries to provide a first class service for the people of Hackney. Clapton Library has been refurbished offering customers a modern comfortable environment within a superb listed building and the new Dalston C.L.R James Library will be a stunning new addition.

In the last year, for the first time ever, there have been more than one and a half million visits to Hackney s libraries, and membership is increasing too.

Woodberry Down library is an excellent example of a community run library. It has been run by volunteers since it opened in 2007, and has provided an opportunity for those who wish to give something back to the community as well as people on the route back to employment. Already twenty eight volunteers have found work, several of them with the council’s library service.