Recreation and Heritage Policy Review Committee Item 12
15 September 2005
Contact: Richard Ward Ext: 6621 firstname.lastname@example.org,
Aim 1 - Maximising Life Opportunities
Aim 4 - Building Strong and Safe Communities
Aim 5 - Improving Services
This report describes some new ideas in the way services might be provided to remote communities by establishing "Discovery Pods", that is Discovery Centres adapted for rural areas.
1.1 A report commissioned for Community Action Hampshire in 1998 identified one of the indications of rural disadvantage being "limited access to, and additional costs associated with, essential services and facilities". Rural disadvantage is most likely to affect: disabled persons and carers; young people and children; elderly persons and lone parents. The report identified 11 parishes in Hampshire which were "most disadvantaged and deprived" and 22 parishes which were "most disadvantaged" (see Appendix 1).
2. Extending library services to the community
2.1 The Library and Information Service currently provides services at 54 static libraries and 19 mobiles. While this allows it to reach a large proportion of the population there may be further opportunities to extend the service to those living in rural areas.
2.2 There are two ways in which this could be achieved, creating "Discovery Pods" or "Library Hubs" in:
· non-library R&H sites e.g. country parks, museums and arts centres
· other public sector buildings such as those operated by District Councils, surgeries or medical centres
· community centres, village halls and other suitable venues
The Discovery Centre element would be the co-location of library services with other Recreation and Heritage and community facilities.
3. Services offered in these new style service points
3.1 The main elements of the service which could be offered would be:
· collections of books
· access to the internet
· staff assistance with enquiries
· access to a wide range of public services
3.2 The collections of books would include popular fiction and non-fiction, and books to reflect the particular site e.g. a collection of nature books at a country park. Local studies material would also be a feature as would a DVD collection. The Peoples Network computer usage has been very high in all libraries and extending this to the wider community would support Hampshire County Council's E-government agenda, as well as giving access to information databases. These databases not only provide up to date information on a number of topics but increasingly replace printed reference books. Staff assistance with enquiries would be handled on site and more complex enquiries could be referred to the nearest library.
3.3 The "hub", or "pod" could be a location for other agencies to place advice workers form time to time. Examples could include police surgeries, pension and retirement advice run by the Department for Work and pensions, housing advice, local councillor, MP or MEP surgeries.
4.1 Staffing at these new libraries would vary according to the location. At a Recreation and Heritage site the existing staff could be trained to provide the basic elements of the service. At a community centre/ village hall volunteers could be used. A self-service element in computer use and lending books could be built in at the planning stage and would provide more flexible access to services.
5. Benefits to the public
· Public Services would be taken nearer to people living in areas remote from traditional service provision.
· Library services would be accessible to a wider range of people, especially those who may experience rural disadvantage.
· Collections could be more targeted to meet the needs of the local community.
· Recreation and Heritage sites would receive a higher profile and more visitors on a regular basis.
· There would be locations for a wide range of advice and information activity to take place.
· Community centres and village halls would increase their profile.
· The Library and Information Service would improve its performance against the Public Library Service Standards.
6. Ways forward
6.1 The Library and Information Service working with colleagues across the Department has identified those parishes which are deemed "disadvantaged" and deprived". Further work needs to be done on identifying suitable Recreation and Heritage or community facilities which could accommodate a Discovery Pod.
6.2 At the moment there is no specific funding identified for this activity and initial work would need to be funded from existing resources. However, once outline costings have been determined partnership funding with local district councils should be sought as should grant monies from Central Government.
That the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage supports the development of Rural Discovery Centres looking particularly at the Parishes suffering most from rural deprivation.
Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
NB the list excludes:
1 Published works.
2 Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.
1.1 Parishes "most disadvantaged and deprived"
Candovers and Herriard (BDBC)
Denny Lodge and Martin (NFDC)
Little Somborne and Quarley TVBC)
Beauworth, Cheriton, Exton and Kilmeston (WCC)
1.2 Parishes "most disadvantaged"
Ecchinswell & Sydmonton (BDBC)
Bentley, Bramshott & Liphook (there is a library at Liphook), Headley, Greatham, Liss and Wield (EHDC)
Boldre, Breamore, Bramshaw, Damerham, Ellingham Harbridge & Ibsley, Exbury & Lepe, Fordingbridge, Godshill, Lyndhurst, Milford-on-sea, Sopley and Woodgreen (NFDC)
Appleshaw and Wherwell (TVBC)