Library modernisation

Libraries and Cultural Services Strategy

Surrey County Council is working with communities across the county to create modern and welcoming library services that meet the needs of people who live, work and study in Surrey.

On 26 November 2019, Surrey County Council's (SCC) Cabinet approved the Library and Cultural Services Strategy 2020–2025 that sets out SCC's vision and approach to modernising libraries and cultural services over the next five years and aims to create more impactful services by working closely with communities and partners.

Your questions answered

Why are we modernising our libraries?

Libraries have always played an important role in Surrey's communities and we want to keep it that way. However, over the last few years fewer people have been using our libraries and those that are visiting us are using libraries for other services and resources beyond books.

Together with residents and partners, we want to encourage more people to use our services by providing a modern and impactful service for everyone that will strengthen communities.

For more information about the future ambition for Surrey Libraries please read the 26 November 2019 Cabinet Report.

Does this mean my local library will close?

No. There are 52 libraries across Surrey now and we want to keep each of these libraries in the communities that they currently serve. Some libraries might have to move locations because their current buildings are no longer fit for purpose, but all re-locations will happen within communities.

How long will this take?

We are planning for this work to take place over several years, starting in 2020 and ending in 2025, working closely with staff, residents and national and local partners.

What will be different in libraries?

Books will continue to be at heart of every library; we will also continue to offer resources, information, culture, learning and skills. Modern library services are important public spaces within local communities. In collaboration with residents and partners we want to provide a welcoming and accessible environment, which encourages participation, creativity, mutual learning, support and value for money.

Our new library service will offer and facilitate more events and activities and encourage more partners and communities to use the spaces to do the same. Our new and improved services will actively contribute to creating greater places for our residents to live, work and learn, and encourage reading, learning and new ideas and opportunities through providing book collections, resources, tools and skills development.

Horley Library is a good example of a new flexible space that has attracted high numbers of new users whilst supporting a lively and diverse programme of events and activities.

What will be different in our larger libraries?

In addition to the changes that will be happening in all libraries, we will be particularly looking for partners to co-locate into our larger libraries where possible. This could include other public sector providers such as maternity services and GP practices or community groups.

How will this impact volunteering opportunities?

Volunteering plays an important part in supporting many activities in libraries and provides benefits to those who give their time and to those they support. We will look at new ways in which people from the local community can volunteer to support and enhance the library offer through supporting digital inclusion and improving health, wellbeing and diversity. Volunteer roles will be developed to allow people the flexibility to utilise or develop their skills and knowledge in a way that interests them, and we will provide appropriate training and support.

Are you investing in any new technology?

Yes, we are investing in new technologies to make services more efficient, engaging and accessible and provide more learning opportunities for those who live, work and study in Surrey. For example, we are keen to explore Open Plus technology (which will enable the public to use swipe cards to enter libraries out of hours) where appropriate to extend opening hours and make libraries more accessible.

How will you be making changes to our libraries?

At each stage of the design process, we will work collaboratively with library users, local people, local organisations and partners. We want residents to become advocates and ambassadors for the change happening in their communities enabling resilient and connected communities.

Co design

What is co-design?

Co-design is a process the government recommends libraries take to develop services (as seen in their report Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 – 2021). They recommend local authorities "co-design and co-create their services with the active support, engagement and participation of their communities so services are accessible and available to all who need them."

It focuses on engaging with communities, collecting data and learning about the people who live in an area, including their needs and what's going on locally. People are invited to share ideas and develop proposals for how libraries can be improved.

How will the public be involved in co-design?

We are developing various online and offline ways for people to get involved and 'share views', 'share ideas' and 'take part' in modernising their local library.

When will co-design be happening?

We are working through a plan and timing for modernising all 52 libraries, recognising that these changes will need to take several years given the number of libraries in Surrey.

How can I get involved now?

If you have any queries or suggestions, please contact us: