WARRINGTON’S libraries have a bright future despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic says council Chief Executive Prof. Steven Broomhead MBE, Chairman of the National Libraries Taskforce.
He says Covid-19 has brought many profound challenges for Warrington, impacting on every aspect of our daily lives.
“These challenges have been keenly felt by our communities, with the loss of the ability to connect with others having a real impact on local people.
“The past 12 months have shown us the hugely important role community facilities play in people’s lives. The closure of these facilities for safety reasons has taken away a real lifeline for many residents. It has served as a reminder of how important facilities such as our libraries and leisure centres are for the wellbeing of our communities.
“That’s why, as we begin the recovery from the pandemic, it’s vital that local people are able to re-establish these connections. More than ever, we must ensure that everyone can access high quality community facilities that enrich their lives.
“A key part of that is the re-opening of our community libraries. Never have our library services been more important. Modern libraries are about so much more than books. They are a real focal point for our communities, providing comfort and support, and helping people forge vital networks.
Fortunately, as we emerge from the pandemic, we will benefit from a library service in Warrington which is in a very strong position for the future.
“In 2019, we set out our three-year vision to transform our libraries service, to make it inclusive, dynamic and inspirational for all, and to ensure libraries across the borough remain sustainable and relevant for the future.
“That vision – which included £1m in council investment to modernise the service, along with the establishment of a Libraries Partnership Group to drive forward change – is now really paying off.
“We remain fully committed to supporting our libraries and the journey we have embarked on with our communities over recent years continues at pace. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we are making excellent progress.
“You will soon see work getting underway on major renovation and repairs to the 164-year-old, Grade II listed Warrington Museum and Library building. Part of our ongoing investment in Warrington’s cultural and literary future, this vital project is about preserving our heritage and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the first rate-supported library in the UK, so it is fit for the future.
“While this essential, six-month project is carried out, Warrington Museum & Library’s services will be moving to a new, temporary home, in the former USC unit in Golden Square Shopping Centre. This is a temporary move only, to give us the time we need to complete these improvements. When the work is finished later this year, our Museum and Library will re-open as a sustainable, inclusive hive of learning, creativity, heritage and culture – ready to serve Warrington for generations to come.
“The renovation of Warrington Museum & Library is just one part our borough-wide libraries modernisation programme. In the past 18 months, we’ve invested almost half a million pounds in our community libraries, including the transformation of Stockton Heath Library and work now underway to breathe new life into Padgate, Culcheth and Penketh libraries.
“As we look towards the future and a time when our communities are connecting once more, we can say with confidence that our libraries – which will have such a vital role to play – have a bright future ahead of them.”
Prof. Broomhead received the MBE for his services to libraries in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year.
The award came following his leadership and chairmanship of the National Libraries Taskforce, helping to implement the Independent Library Report and reinvigorate the national public library service.
He was previously chair of Warrington’s Libraries Working group, which formed to review the results of consultations over the borough’s provision. The group implemented its plan for the future of Warrington’s libraries, which led to new investment and innovative approaches for the town’s library service.