Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services in Surrey Consultation

Closed 4 Jan 2019

Opened 30 Oct 2018


Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services in Surrey

Libraries and cultural services are an integral part of community life across Surrey and sit at the heart of lifelong learning. We know that to sustain our libraries and cultural services into the future, with the resources that we have, we need to think differently and creatively about how those services are provided.

To do this, we are asking for your views on the following five principles that form a strategy which we believe could inform proposals for transforming libraries and cultural services in Surrey:

1. Libraries and cultural services provide and enable opportunities for everyone to learn, access information, acquire new skills, improve literacy and be involved in their communities.

2. There is a focus on the wellbeing and strengthening of communities, particularly the most vulnerable, to enable them to be resilient.

3. Libraries and cultural services are most effective and efficient when they work in partnership with the public, voluntary, community and private sectors, including through the creation of shared spaces.

4. New technologies, including digital, enable libraries and cultural services to reach new audiences, and existing audiences in new ways, and offer 24/7 access.

5. Volunteers are crucial community advocates and assets in libraries and cultural services, who also gain valuable skills and relationships through the work they do.

Our intention is to develop proposals that deliver against this strategy and create libraries and cultural services that are fit for the future and sustainable in the long term. It is also our intention to get close to the national average spend of county councils on library services.

Where are we now?

In Surrey, there are 52 libraries based across the county including 10 Community Partnered Libraries (CPLs). The top 18 libraries account for 65% of the total visits, and 18 others for only 11.6% of business. Some libraries are co-located with other services, such as the recently reopened Merstham Library, where we have seen a 300% increase in library membership.

The digital library offer is valued by many residents, with 1.32 million items borrowed using the online catalogue. Residents, particularly vulnerable ones, tell us they value the access to public computers and Wi-Fi which libraries provide.

Volunteering is a strong feature of Surrey libraries. 680 volunteers give 21,000 hours per annum.

Our broader cultural services offer covers arts, a music service, heritage and archaeology, adult and community learning and the registration and citizenship service.

What is happening elsewhere?

There are lots of innovative examples and initiatives in place in other parts of the UK and around the world that could help shape our proposals. For example the Hive in Worcestershire combines a university/public library, an archive and archaeology centre, Worcester City Council’s customer services hub, a studio theatre, a lifelong learning centre and a business centre in a single building.

Peterborough and Milton Keynes libraries have taken the use of technology to the next level with their new digitally-led libraries that are accessible 24 hours a day.

Meanwhile the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has examples from across the world of libraries promoting health and wellbeing, digital literacy and local businesses - further details can be found by searching for Global Libraries at

What happens now?

We are inviting you to give your views on our strategy made up of the principles shown above and to share your ideas for shaping the proposals which will transform our libraries and cultural services.

Please read the strategy document below and then Give Us Your Views by answering the questions.

If you prefer, there is also an online Easy Read version of the questions.

If you require the survey in another format such as large print, please call us on 03456 009 009 or text 07860 053 465 (Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm)

This consultation closes on Friday 4 January 2019.

What happens next

This consultation has now closed.  We are grateful for the time people have taken to provide their feedback. It is being carefully reviewed and will help shape recommendations to be considered by Surrey County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 29 January.

Please check the consultations page on our website for further updates after the meeting.


  • All Areas


  • Anyone from any background


  • Policy