Plans to transform the borough’s libraries into thriving cultural hubs at the heart of Croydon’s communities have been unveiled in a cabinet report.
The 10-year plan – which follows the council’s decision to take the library service back in-house last year – sets out the vision for a network of vibrant centres of creativity and learning, where residents are informed, involved and inspired.
An ambitious programme of works will refurbish the borough’s 13 library buildings, transforming them into modern, welcoming, inspirational spaces that meet local needs now and in the future, including the ambition to create a flagship library within the Clocktower building in Katharine Street.
The programme is already underway, with South Norwood’s new library opening in spring 2020, with Selsdon, Norbury and Thornton Heath libraries all being refurbished in 2019/20.
These flexible, modern spaces will support a huge range of uses for local people and community groups. Written and spoken word will remain at the heart of libraries, with investment to increase the number of physical and digital books available. In addition, an exciting programme of events will encourage creativity and celebrate culture, from live performances to exhibitions and workshops.
Over time, more residents will be supported to learn and find jobs, as the libraries service expands its homework clubs, job clubs and enhances its digital zones with modern IT equipment, helping them to engage with the changing working environment.
And to give residents longer access to their new library spaces and services, the council will pilot new technology, Open+, which will allow them to access the building with their library card. Technology and mobile apps will give residents access to libraries and the services outside of core hours.
Libraries will also play a vital role in the council’s new preventative, localities-based approach, which aims to offer residents help and support at the earliest possible stage when, and where, they need it. Together with partners in health and education, the council will promote residents’ wellbeing through these community hubs, helping them find information, and connect them with support on their doorsteps.
And to get more people of all ages involved with Croydon’s libraries, the council will develop its volunteer programme, and partnerships with the voluntary and community sector.
“As London’s growth borough, Croydon is changing and we want our libraries to change too, putting culture at the heart of our regeneration. Libraries play a vital role in our local communities and we want them to be inspirational, welcoming spaces that encourage creativity and celebrate culture – where people of all ages and backgrounds come to learn, read, work, meet people and get involved. These plans will transform our network of libraries, creating a fantastic resource the whole community can be proud of.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
The report and Libraries Plan will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday 7 May.
Volunteer at www.croydon.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/volunteer