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Help shape the future of Suffolk’s libraries

A consultation event will be held at Bury Library next month
A consultation event will be held at Bury Library next month

Suffolk Libraries is seeking users opinions on how it can meet their needs in the future.

The independent body that runs Suffolk’s libraries had a five year contract which it decided to renew for another five years at the end of 2016.

It is now reviewing how it can run an affordable library service to meets the needs of ts users so has launched a customer survey, asking people what they feel is important about the county’s library service.

Suffolk Libraries says its budget has been cut by a further £200,000 for 2017/18 and year-on-year reductions means it now gets 33 per cent less than in 2010.

Tony Brown, Suffolk Libraries’ chairman, said: “There is much to be positive about; all our libraries are still open, some have even increased opening hours.

“Suffolk Libraries has strived to make improvements and innovations, whilst offering a diverse range of services and there are now even more activities in libraries.

“We may have to make difficult decisions but we are still committed to doing everything we can to protect local library services which we know mean so much to their communities.”

Alison Wheeler, chief executive, said: “We have been warning that further cuts would be challenging and as we have less money, we will have to make further savings.

“We want to approach these challenges in the right way, by carrying out a review to help us make a longer-term plan We have built up trust and support in the community and we want as many people as possible to have their say.

“We must be realistic; staffing is our biggest cost so it is likely there won’t be as many jobs in the future. However, we want to reassure people as much as we can – we do not anticipate that any changes we have to make will include library closures, handing over libraries to volunteers or charging for what the law or our contract says must be free.Suffolk Libraries are running a customer survey until May 8. Complete the survey online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SuffolkLibraries2017 or complete a paper copy at any Suffolk library.

There will also be event at Ipswich Library on April 8 and Bury Library on Saturday May 6 from 10am to 1pm where you can ask staff questions and fill in a form.

Mr Brown added, “We want to do our bit and we are launching ‘Suffolk Libraries Extra’, a new supporter scheme offering people the chance to make an annual donation to get more involved and help the library service.

“It won’t affect the service to everyone else, it’ll just mean that for those who feel they can, there’s a way of giving us some extra support.”

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