Plans unveiled for future of Blackpool's libraries

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A new strategy for Blackpool's libraries aims to make stronger connections between the lending service and the community.

The Libraries Ambition Plan 2019-2024 is considering priorities including using the facilities to help with children's readiness for school, to improve literacy levels, encourage more people to read, provide access to digital services and to support residents' mental wellbeing.

Palatine Library

Palatine Library

Mereside and Layton libraries could be overhauled in a bid to provide more community space, while ways are also being explored to connect Central Library more closely to the rest of the town centre.

Ideas have been developed following consultation with residents including library users, and have also been presented to councillors attending a review panel meeting.

According to minutes from the meeting, they were told the library service had been used by approximately 40,000 people over the past three years, with satisfaction levels up by 15 per cent since 2014 to 92 per cent.

The minutes add "despite these positive aspects it had been recognised that there remained areas for improvement, such as poor links to other council services."

Despite millions of pounds being cut from council services in recent years, all the town's libraries have remained open.

Anchorsholme Library has seen investment including £10,000 of ward budget funding which helped open a cafe there in 2017.

Anchorsholme councillor Tony Williams said: "I think libraries have got a lot more to offer.

"It would take a lot of the strain off the council's Customer First Centre for instance if they were able to offer some other services from libraries.

"Also not everyone can easily get to access services outside their area.

"I think the cafe has helped Anchorsholme Library attract more users. Even if just one in 10 customers are borrowing a book, that's something."

Among the successes at Anchorsholme Library has been regular art exhibitions giving local artists chance to display their work.