It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly a year since we opened the South Kesteven Community Point and Library in my home town of Bourne – saving a much needed service for local people.
Faced with budget cuts and a wish to secure the long term future of the Corn Exchange we made the decision to work with the county and town councils to provide our services all under one roof in that very building.
And now almost 12 months later that decision to “invest to save” has been whole heartedly endorsed by the local community who have embraced this new facility which is not only more efficient but is attracting more users than ever before.
Thousands of residents have been able to access over 30 SKDC services including benefits advice, council tax and waste service enquiries, planning advice, repairs reports and licensing. They are also able to see an estates officer and make payments for local services.
On top of that the library smashed its target and attracted nearly 30,000 customers in the first six months, at a time when libraries are under threat nationally, and as well as their regulars, they have signed up over 250 new members.
This just shows what a good decision it was to work with our partners but we have also listened to the views of local people and we have used their feedback over recent months to make the facility even better.
Customers told us that the library space isn’t always as private as some would like it when transactions are being completed so our officers now make use of interview rooms wherever possible to minimise disruption to other users.
Overall the response has been very positive and visitors to the building – including someone who had worked for West Sussex Libraries for 22 years – have said how impressed they are with the facility in general and the service they received from our efficient and friendly staff.
We will of course continue to “talk” to our customers and staff to improve things even further but it’s fair to say that so far the project has more than surpassed my expectations – and from feedback received so far - the expectations of those who live locally.
By South Kesteven District Council leader Linda Neal.