Wednesday, January 8, 2020

News: New multimillion pound Rotherham library on the cards

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Rotherham Council are looking at the books. Proposals for a new central library in a redeveloped markets complex in Rotherham town centre are being developed.

In April last year, Rothbiz reported on library consultation that revealed that Rotherham Council was considering moving the library back across town into a new community/cultural hub that could be located opposite Tesco in the Markets, which is due to be developed as part of the Town Centre Masterplan.

Now an update on the future of Rotherham's libraries is going before the Council's cabinet and the move out of the authority's Riverside House is a key feature, along with £1m+ investment in facilities across the borough.

A cabinet paper states: "Options for a new location for a Central Library within Rotherham Town Centre have been considered. The proposed preferred option is to relocate the Central Library to the Guardian Centre, which is part of the Rotherham Markets complex.

"The case for relocation is based on an examination of the challenges associated with the existing offer at Riverside House and a desire to investigate the social, economic, financial and environmental benefits that a town centre offering could bring."

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The new library could also incorporate a family friendly café, flexible events space, meeting rooms, drop-in facilities for use by schools and the public and the implementation of new technology.

Justifications include increasing library usage, increasing footfall, delivering savings and delivering a "new cultural, leisure and learning destination to improve the attractiveness of the town centre and support perception-change."

Apart from saving money and being able to reuse the ground floor space in its office building, the cabinet paper adds that "borrowing and physical visits never recovered from the dip that followed the transfer of location from Walker Place in 2012. The move resulted in an immediate reduction in the number of annual visits by 31%. In 2018/19, the central library was one of only three sites where visits and active borrowing have continued to decline."

Council bosses hope that bringing the market and library together will increase usage and contribute to an increased annual footfall in the town centre estimated to be in excess of 200,000 visits.

However, funding for the markets and potential library development is not yet set in stone, being part of the bid for Government funding via the Future High Street Fund. Rotherham town centre has been shortlisted for part of the £675m fund designed to help communities reinvent their high streets but the fund is competitive and it is not yet known what, if any, cash the borough will receive.

A capital investment in the region of £5.7m for the library aspect has been estimated.

On the proposed new town centre investment, the draft library strategy states: "The hub will be a landmark feature for the community: a bright, welcoming, aspirational hub, aimed at encouraging people to explore the environment and what it has to offer to Library members. It will offer a state-of-the-art book display and digital technology and dynamic social space in which to meet and learn."

Images: RMBC / Google Maps

1 comments:

royherbert February 6, 2020 at 8:47 PM  

Left a comment on this when first published, suppose this will not be approved due to being critical of the proposals of the council!

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