City libraries set for alternative uses

Three library buildings closed earlier this year as part of budget cutbacks by Liverpool City Council are to reopen run by community groups.

On Friday 21 September the Mayor's Cabinet is set to consider options for the alternative uses for the three facilities:

Woolton Library – Young People's Opportunities Service. This organisation provides vocational and personal development training for around 150 teenagers each year

Edge Hill Library – Liverpool Carnival Company. Responsible for the annual Brazilica festival, throughout the year it runs a samba school, designs and builds floats and makes costumes. The library building also has sufficient space for other groups such as Balata and the Liverpool Lantern Company to use

Great Homer Street Library. This venue is scheduled for demolition as part of Project Jennifer, St Modwen's retail development, but discussions are taking place with a number of community groups about the possible temporary use of the building.

The buildings stopped functioning as libraries in April 2012, and local community groups and third sector organisations were asked to contact the council with expressions of interest for using the venues. Seventeen were received and the organisations were judged on their viability and the proposals they put forward for the use of the buildings.

Cllr Wendy Simon, Liverpool city council's cabinet member for libraries, said: "Closing the three libraries was a difficult decision, but in these times of huge financial challenges, it simply wasn't feasible for us to invest vast amounts of money to bring each of them up to the standard of a 21st century library.

"Empty buildings are always unwanted in our neighbourhoods, so it's great news that these groups have come forward to not only utilise the venue, but also to bring a valuable, new resource to our communities.

"Each of the interested parties are well established, local organisations and I'm sure residents will welcome these vacant buildings coming back into use once again."

The library service needed to save £2.25m (about 29%) from its 2012/13 budget.

In March 2011 a public consultation was launched, and 4,286 people responded to an online questionnaire which was designed to explore the views of customers, find out which libraries were most popular and give individuals the opportunity to have their say on what savings should be made.

The majority of respondents wanted to keep as many libraries open as possible even if this meant reducing opening hours across the city.

There are 18 community libraries available to customers across Liverpool plus a temporary Central Library based in the World Museum Liverpool until the Central and Archive redevelopment scheme opens in spring 2013.

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