Helping families through the cost of living crisis, tackling loneliness and bringing people together is at the heart of Gwynedd’s library service.
At a meeting of the council Gwynedd’s cabinet yesterday, Tuesday, 7 March, the council set out its vision for its library services for the next five years.
The Gwynedd Library Service Plan – Living Libraries 2023-2028 – was approved at the meeting, which heard how the county’s libraries had adapted over time to create ‘vibrant spaces.’
They now offer a whole range of services and activities – much more than just a book lending service.
Local Authorities have a statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 ‘to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service to all’.
During the meeting, Cllr Nia Jeffreys, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member responsible for Library Services presented the library plan.
The report is a requirement of the Public Libraries Standards of Wales’s assessment framework
It described how in Gwynedd, 96 per cent of library users were “completely satisfied” with the service they received.
The county’s libraries now offered a range of services, with some even lending out items such as gardening equipment, DIY tools, games and toys.
Reading was still at the the heart of the service offer, with around 60 per cent of users visiting libraries to borrow a book.
Much of the library service’s work included supporting people by sharing and accessing information and advice.
During the cost of living crisis libraries provided warm places to go, as well offering places to socialise for young and old, helping to combat loneliness.
Libraries were also tackling topics such as period poverty raising awareness of the environmental and benefits of re-usable menstrual products. Over 1,550 free reusable products packs were delivered.
The delivery of books and a home service for those who could attend libraries was also important.
Libraries also provided access the latest information technology, for work or leisure, with some incorporating virtual reality suites and offering digital support.
Cllr Jefferys said: “I’m delighted to have a taste of the many services on offer in our libraries, and outlined within this document.
“Last year there were more than 29,000 members of Gwynedd libraries, borrowing more than 186,000 books and downloading nearly 60,000 electronic items.
“If ever there needs to be proof that libraries are exciting places which remain relevant in the modern era, these figures speak volumes.”
She described how libraries had changed over the years.
“I remember going to Porthmadog library to choose a book with my dad when I was young. You had a small library card to keep a record of the books you borrowed, there wasn’t much choice.
“Then reflecting on taking my own children to the library, there was much better provision for the children, more books for them.
“This morning I was in the Porthmadog library, the librarian has worked there for more than 30 years!
“Now the library has a wealth of computers and games for children to play, and it is also offering it self up as a warm place for people to go.”
“It’s fantastic to see how the libraries are benefiting our communities.”
She urged people to read the report, “its strategy is a clear and well written with some wonderful pictures which promotes the work of our libraries. ” She said.
During the meeting the cabinet also agreed to the proposal that Gwynedd Council will act as the lead authority for the Library Management System, Cymru.