Libraries minister sees “great example” at Bicester

Plans to expand Oxfordshire’s Home Library Service and joining up services ‘under one roof’ were among the hot topics at Bicester Library, during a fact-finding visit from Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP.

The flagship county council facility offers a wide range of council services and activities, and has attracted more than 2,000 new members since opening in April.

Heralded as a “great example” by Mr Wilson, Bicester exemplifies an emerging identity for Oxfordshire’s libraries as focal points for a broad range of services, help and advice.

The council has also announced plans to grow its Home Library Service so that people with mobility problems who can’t get to a library can have books and other items delivered to their door.

Valuable resource

Mr Wilson, whose portfolio includes responsibility for libraries policy, met with the council’s Cabinet Member for Cultural Services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale to find out more about library services in Oxfordshire and take a look at the new facilities at Bicester.

He said: "Bicester is a great example of how high performing councils are joining up local services under one roof. It was fantastic to meet some of the dedicated staff who make the libraries such a valuable resource for their local community."

Cllr Lindsay-Gale added: “We were delighted to receive Rob Wilson and to have the opportunity to highlight the many success stories associated with our thriving library service.

“Unlike other parts of the country, all 43 of Oxfordshire’s branch libraries have remained open and we want to underline our commitment to libraries by putting them right at the heart of the communities they serve. That means developing a broad range of services, help and advice under one roof, and exploring new ways of linking up with partner organisations, volunteers and community groups to maximise what libraries have to offer.”

Home library service

The council is expanding its Home Library Service, in which staff and volunteers deliver books and other items to the homes of people with mobility problems who are unable to get to a branch library.

Staff and volunteers are a friendly face who stop by once every three weeks to bring customers some new books or CDs and spend some time to share their own stories. For some residents, this is a real lifeline.

More than 130 volunteers have already signed up, with 400 registered users benefiting from the scheme. A countywide recruitment campaign is being rolled out next month to recruit more volunteers and expand the service. Find out more online