Torbay Libraries are entering into an exciting new chapter as Devon-based charity Libraries Unlimited takes to the helm to run all four libraries on behalf of Torbay Council.
As of April 2018, Libraries Unlimited is responsible for running the libraries in Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Churston through a five-year contract with the Council.
Torbay Council and Libraries Unlimited have been working closely together over the past few months in the run up to the handover, and library staff from across Torbay became employees of the charity from 1st April. The charity has confirmed that all four libraries across the Bay will remain open with the same opening hours and will be professionally staffed.
Libraries Unlimited were appointed as the preferred provider late in 2017, due to their experience of successfully running Devon Libraries on behalf of Devon County Council over the past two-years, and their national reputation for innovation. They will be bringing their community focused services, digital inclusion, health and wellbeing offering to Torbay Libraries, as well as offering access to a wealth of information and resources.
Libraries Unlimited is one of four library charities across England, having been formed following a spin out from the county council, becoming an independent organisation in April 2016 following extensive public consultation in Devon. The decision to become a public sector mutual was agreed to be the best option in order to secure the county’s libraries.
Elected Mayor for Torbay, Gordon Oliver, said: “The future is bright for our libraries in Torbay with Libraries Unlimited taking the helm. With a range of budgetary pressures affecting the council we have had to look at how we deliver services a lot differently, and this award is a great first step to ensuring our library service can continue and improve.
“Libraries Unlimited’s experience of running nationally recognised library services will enable people who live, work and study in Torbay to have continued access to all our existing library services, and I look forward to seeing what innovative and new services they will be able to offer our residents.”
Ciara Eastell OBE, former Head of Libraries, Culture and Heritage at Devon County Council, is the charity’s Chief Executive. Ciara said: “We are very excited to be welcoming Torbay Libraries, Torbay library staff and Torbay communities into our organisation. We are confident that Torbay Libraries will have a positive and sustainable future and are committed to bringing our core purposes and values to the service, to promote and encourage a love of reading at all ages, supporting and encouraging people to achieve their potential and providing a free and welcoming space for anyone to enjoy.
She continued: “Over the next few months we will be focusing on ensuring a continuity of service in all four libraries. Over time we will be looking to improve and modernise the service whilst maintaining a financially sustainable future. We want to provide the people of Torbay with the highest-quality library services possible, and will use our experience of running Devon Libraries to introduce exciting new opportunities whilst still making the savings required through our contract.”
Libraries Unlimited will work closely with Torbay Council to ensure all existing services continue to operate smoothly over the next five years. Over time, the charity aims to implement a more integrated library service that will offer extended services and resources, for both Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries users.
Libraries Unlimited is committed to making financial savings and ensuring the sustainability of the service. The charity will need to make savings of £800,000 over the duration of the contract, as well as securing additional sources of income and ensuring the libraries are operating as efficiently as possible.
To find out more about Libraries Unlimited visit librariesunlimited.org.uk, follow on Twitter @LibrariesUnLtd or on Facebook.com/LibrariesUnlimited.