Consultation agreed on schools library resource proposal

7 December 2017

Schools will have the opportunity to give their views on a proposal to close the Derbyshire and Derby City Schools Library Service after a consultation was agreed at a meeting this week.

The Schools Library Service (SLS), which is not connected to schools' own libraries, provides support and resources to schools and educational establishments across the city and Derbyshire and is provided jointly by the city council and us.

Our Cabinet decided on Thursday (7 December 2018) to hold a six-week consultation asking schools, nurseries and other educational establishments and providers which use, have used or could use the service for their views on the proposal to close the SLS.

The SLS is based in Kedleston Road, Derby, and offers a range of educational resources on loan to schools.

The main resources are artefacts, but the service also provides books, paintings, prints, posters, DVDs, CDs, textiles and resource packs.

The use of the SLS has been declining over a number of years with figures showing that in 2016/17 only 143 out of 425 Derbyshire schools and 42 out of 109 Derby City schools used the service − a total of 35% of eligible schools.

Work to encourage use of the service has not stopped the decline and over the past nine years the SLS's income from loans and services has reduced by about 43%.

In 2016/17 the funding received by the SLS was £176,000 (£149,000 from us and £27,000 from the city council). The money is currently taken from local authority maintained school budgets, but this amount is in decline due to the growth of academies.

With changes to funding school budgets likely to come in to force over the next two to three years, the SLS would have to raise minimum charges (based on current use of the service) to a much greater level.

For example it may have to charge £33 for the loan of each project and a £1,170 subscription fee, as opposed to the current minimum charges of £5 for a project loan and £230 for a basic subscription.

Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism Councillor Barry Lewis said:

"It's important that people understand this proposal does not affect schools' own libraries.

"It is not an easy decision to propose any service for closure, but we believe the Schools Library Service is not viable in the future.

"Fewer and fewer schools and other educational providers are using the service and we believe it should not be sustained in the long-term by using council reserves."

Following Cabinet's agreement the consultation will launch on 1 January and run until 11 February 2018.

Schools and other current users of the service will be contacted directly so they can give their views via an online questionnaire.

Other interested groups will be able to take part by accessing the questionnaire on our website when the consultation goes live from 1 January 2018.