Talks underway for Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils to join pop-up libraries and help customers
Talks are underway for a partnership scheme between two Suffolk councils and the library service which would see pop-up access points for people to sort their council business and offer tourist information.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils moved to Endeavour House in Ipswich last year, leaving questions over how people in the district who were not able to get to Ipswich would be able to speak to staff or sort issues.
Plans are ongoing for a permanent self-service style access point at an existing building in Hadleigh, while staffed access points remain in Sudbury and Stowmarket.
Now it has emerged that talks for a pilot scheme have been underway with Suffolk Libraries which could see the libraries offer tourist information and staffed pop-up access points join the pop-up libraries like those run in Shotley by the library service.
Derek Davis, independent councillor and Babergh cabinet member for organisational delivery spoke of the plans at Babergh’s cabinet meeting, and said: “We are in discussions with Suffolk Libraries which talks about the delivery of two pilot programmes.
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“This strategy will create a culture and environment where our staff feel empowered and have the necessary tools and techniques to provide a positive experience for our customers.”
Mr Davis said it was important to understand the range of people who needed to access council services – including those who weren’t able to do so online, an estimated figure of between 15% and 20% of all customers.
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Bruce Leeke, Suffolk Libraries chief executive, said: “At the moment discussions are still at an early stage but the ideas being discussed include self-service visitor information points being based at some libraries and the council having a presence at the ‘pop-up’ weekly Suffolk Libraries local session in Shotley.
“We’re very pleased to be working with the council on a project which would help local people to access their services and would also hopefully encourage more people to visit their local library and realise the fantastic range of services and activities they provide.
“Libraries are a logical place to provide and access information due to their opening hours, locations, internet access and the number of people who already visit regularly.
“Working with partner organisations like this is another way of helping to strengthen the library service as a vital community hub.
“We already successfully host council access points in other libraries across the county and are always keen to explore new ideas.”
It is not yet clear when a trial might begin, but it is understood that its effectiveness will be analysed before it is rolled out elsewhere.