When we last provided an update on the library services in Ulverston, the council had just opened the temporary pop-up library in the Ante Room at the Coro in Ulverston, under a hire arrangement with the then operators of The Coro, Ulverston Coronation Hall (UCH). This facility offers a selection of books for borrowing, IT facilities and access to library staff for support and advice.
Since then we have been able to extend the pop-up library provision to Ulverston Market Hall, which now houses library facilities including more stock for borrowing as well as space for community groups, meetings and events. Happily we have been able to re-start activities including the young people’s chess club, an advice and support group for Ukrainian refugees and a digital skills drop-in.
Whilst we appreciate this is not an ideal long-term solution, the two locations are central, accessible and have enabled us to reinstate a good number of our library services, and has allowed us to remain in contact with our regular library users.
The management of The Coro reverted to the council on 1 January and this has enabled us to extend the opening hours of the pop-up facility in the Ante Room, to ensure opening times are now in line with previous library provision, including opening at weekends.
We are currently working to extend the temporary library provision further, using more space within The Coro. We hope to launch this in early March, giving us even greater flexibility to deliver more library services and activities.
We have contacted our community groups to ensure they have meeting space, with some being offered alternatives through our partners on a temporary basis until we are in a position to integrate them back alongside the library service.
The inclusion of the library at The Coro and the extended opening hours has seen a noticeable increase in footfall in the building and we are now seeing more people popping in, visiting the library and enquiring about everything from performance enquiries and tickets to bus timetables and bus pass information.
Due to the number of customer enquires we are receiving at The Coro now, we are engaging with our Customer teams at the council to ensure we can support with information and advice about other council services.
We are currently undertaking an options appraisal to ensure the best library model is applied for Ulverston. It is one of our most important library services in the new council area with a thriving membership and footfall.
As the library is a statutory function, we’re required to consult on any changes, including any relocation of the library, so the local community will have the opportunity to comment on proposals once they are fully developed and public views will be taken into account as part of the process.
We have also already been in contact with the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport to inform them of the situation and they have indicated they are comfortable with our approach.
Once the options assessment is completed we will be in a position to engage with stakeholders, partners, elected members and our community, so we are committed to keeping you informed when we have clear information about the options.
For more detailed information on the Ulverston Library background, see our Q&A Ulverston Library - Your Questions Answered
As regards Roose Library, the current building is still out of action following an extensive fire. The cause of the fire is subject of a police investigation and our insurance company is assessing the costs of repairs.
These things do take time and are largely out of our control, however our efforts have been concentrated in the meantime on arranging a temporary alternative provision for Roose library while the current building is unavailable.
We are actively in discussion with a third party about using space in their premises and we are currently working with the building owners assessing the necessary health and safety and IT requirements, and carrying out inspections of the building.
We appreciate this has taken some time, but we need to ensure we can get a provision up and running for service users in that area of Barrow in a building that meets all the appropriate standards and accessibility requirements. There is also clearly a need to engage supportively and sensitively with our community groups about the new arrangements.
We recognise the importance of the library services in Roose and Ulverston and appreciate the ongoing level of interest in the future of these services and would like to repeat our reassurances that we are committed to continuing to retain and deliver library services in both these areas.