Putting libraries at the heart of Kingston communities

The second phase of Reimagining Kingston Libraries - a transformational review which aims to place libraries at the heart of the community - begins after approval at committee.

Cllr Rebekah Moll, Portfolio Holder for Planning Policy and Culture, said:

“Reimagining Kingston Libraries began with an extensive series of engagement activities with library users and local residents in September and October 2020. We used as many creative ways as we could think of to get different groups involved at a time when face-to-face engagement just wasn’t an option! A collective poem, ideas on a digital concept board, an escape room, an improvised rap, pictures and maps are just a few examples of how we got everyone to share their thoughts. 

“The review is not about reducing the number of libraries in our borough or cutting services for residents. It’s about adapting our libraries to ensure we can best support the needs of our residents, both now and in the future. We are also going to be looking at how we can make things simpler, and make our services more efficient to cut costs without cutting services.”

We engaged with a range of stakeholders, including teams from the council, community groups, schools, residents and library staff. Six key principles emerged from this first engagement phase which are:

  • Our mission is to engage, empower and enable all our communities to be healthy, happy and skilled through inspiration and early intervention
  • Reading, culture and creativity, health and wellbeing, and access to offline and digital information remain at the heart of our library offer
  • We will make the most of every opportunity to develop our offer, enabling libraries to reach all of Kingston’s communities, and support and inspire in new ways
  • Our physical library spaces will be flexible, providing a quality core offer whilst also providing space for our communities to share and participate in creative and community-led activities
  • We will nurture and grow new partnerships with other agencies and community groups, enabling the service to develop and reach a wider audience
  • Library staff are supported, empowered and skilled in community development and outreach, supporting residents when they need us

These core principles, established in phase one of the library review, will be tested between February and August 2021, initially focusing on the digital and ‘at home’ offers. 

This is an exciting part of the council’s wider plans to reconsider and reshape how it delivers its services. The council is committed to finding new ways to better support the changing needs of residents across the borough, while also putting the voice of residents at the heart of how we make decisions about Kingston’s future.

Published: 16th February 2021