Councillors at Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities committee have today (19 July) been briefed on the findings of an independent local Government review into its library services. Despite the pandemic, Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, who manage the library service on behalf of the County Council have kept their services at the heart of the community by offering alternative solutions for people to access valuable services.
The Local Government Association Peer Review report confirmed Inspire moved swiftly to deliver an expanded virtual offer alongside library click and collect, home delivery and an extended help line.
The report praised the “enthusiastic and proactive staff team” who are at the heart of Inspire’s work with local communities and residents.
Since its inception, Inspire has been responsible for delivering a range of cultural, art, library and learning services. Set up in April 2016, Inspire is an independent organisation with charitable aims and status. As well as overseeing the day to day management of more than 60 libraries across the county, Inspire provide a range of programming including Nottinghamshire Archives, Inspire Youth Arts and Nottinghamshire Music Hub.
Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of the Communities committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We welcome the findings of this report, confirming that our library service has been performing at a high level since its inception five years ago.
“I was delighted to see staff praised for their unwavering focus on both the customer and community during the Covid-19 pandemic. I know how vital libraries can be for their local residents and it has been fantastic to see how Inspire continued to deliver these services remotely to support library users.
“We’re continually striving for Nottinghamshire to have the best library service in the country. We are committed to keeping libraries open and keeping our services operating at the very highest level.”
Nottinghamshire Library’s receive over 2.4 million visits per year, issue 2.9 million loans, have 122 thousand active borrowers (nearly 15 per cent of the population) and 9.5 thousand children take part in the summer reading challenge. When compared with the library services of 122 other councils, active borrowers and visits to the website are in the top 25%, book stock performs above average and physical visits are similar to the average, although users spend more time in the libraries, as Inspire offers a varied programme of events, activities, learning and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy.
Inspire will also play a key role in supporting local communities as they recover from the impact of the pandemic. Their role will encompass a range of support such as catch-up in education for children and young people; tackling loneliness and isolation; addressing a widespread loss of confidence and fear; upskilling people; supporting health and care; developing business and reviving the high street in a changing economy; and tackling widening social disadvantage and inequality.