A new chapter has started for the county’s library service.
Monday (April 4) saw the official handover of the management of the county’s 15 major libraries – including Spalding and Long Sutton – to Greenwich Leisure Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation.
It is the end of a process which saw Lincolnshire County Council carry out a thorough review of the library service in a bid to save £2million.
GLL will also handle the county’s online library services and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library because of, for instance, disability, age or ill-health.
Coun Nick Worth, county council executive member for libraries, said: “It’s great to have GLL on board, and I’m confident that, together, we can both improve our library services and deliver significant savings.
“Nowadays, libraries are about much more than just books. We want to be sure our libraries stay at the heart of their community, and, to do that, they need to change with the times.
“So we’ll be working with GLL to make sure our libraries continue to provide the right range of services, the services people need, hopefully bringing a few new customers through the door in the process.”
Peter Bundey, deputy managing director for GLL, said: “GLL is the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise with extensive experience in providing high quality library services and boosting library visits and book loans.
“We are excited about managing libraries across Lincolnshire, developing services to meet the interest and needs of local communities.
“GLL are looking forward to working with the county council across the service, covering 15 libraries and supporting over 30 community hub locations.
“We are hitting the ground running with new plans for a Reading Garden and Teenage Library in Lincoln and a revamped mobile library in Mablethorpe – on top of scheduled library activities like the Summer Reading Challenge, Home Library and IT tasters.
“These are exciting times, as we aim to increase library footfall and attract and welcome readers of all ages.”
In addition to running core library services, GLL will support a network of more than 30 community hubs that have been developed by the council in partnership with local groups.
As a result of this new approach, these sites are already open for an additional 131.5 hours each week (up from 479 to 610.5) – an increase of more than 27 per cent.
Coun Worth added: “We were always confident that this new model would not only provide better value for money, but could also increase access to services. But even so, I’ve been really impressed by what the groups have achieved in such a short space of time.”