The results of a consultation on what the future of libraries in Herts should be like over the next decade have been presented to county councillors.
More than 13,000 people completed questionnaires in the county-wide consultation, which ran for ten weeks to the end of 2013.
Panel chairman Councillor Frances Button said: “The response from Hertfordshire residents has been tremendous, demonstrating how important libraries are in the life of local communities.”
The results will be used as part of a process by Herts County Council to develop a new ten year strategy for the service and will help ensure libraries remain relevant and sustainable, responding to changes in technology, customer expectations and community needs – all in the face of a reducing budget.
The key themes to emerge from the consultation included that libraries are seen as hubs of the community, borrowing books and talking books is the most used and valued service that is offered and libraries have a vital role to play in education, literacy and lifelong learning.
There is broad support for libraries embracing new technologies, expanding e-books, developing online services and mobile access.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents were in favour of sharing existing library buildings with other services, such as police or youth schemes.
There is also support for increasing the use of volunteers to run libraries and extend open hours.
Ms Button said no decisions have yet been made about the way forward. “We have said all along that the consultation is the starting point for a conversation about the future of the county’s libraries, involving residents right at the start, before any decisions are made,” she said.
The new library strategy will be developed during this spring and summer and will be presented to a panel in July.
For the detailed consultation feedback visit www.hertsdirect.org/services/libraries/aboutlib/publicconsultation