When people ask about my passion for libraries, the answer is straightforward: I truly believe that a library is a fantastic asset to a community and that libraries are both inspirational and aspirational.
Free libraries have been a fundamental driver for both social change and community cohesion since the Victorians first introduced them.
As part of the county council’s recent Budget announcement, Nottinghamshire County Council is continuing to deliver its library and archive service while still aiming to make £1m in general revenue savings by 2016/17 to contribute to the Budget Challenge we face across the authority due to savage Government cuts.
Libraries are of great value and we are investing in them to bring benefits to communities now and into the future.
One factor standing us in good stead is investing now to save in the long term and this approach is already paying dividends.
Mansfield Library is now getting 70,000 more visitors a year since its refurbishment in 2012 as part of a £3.4m investment programme – from 260,000 visitors in 2010 to 330,000 this year.
We are always heartened when public figures such as author Julia Donaldson and children’s TV presenter Amy Thompson (currently starring in Mansfield Palace Theatre’s Christmas pantomime) have visited Mansfield Library and been genuinely impressed with our community focus, the modern facilities and events and activities on offer.
Sutton Library has also undergone a refurbishment to its entrance and reception area over the Christmas and New Year period as part of our modernisation programme.
There has been much to talk about in libraries across Mansfield and Ashfield district in 2014.
Kirkby Library and Sutton Library were among 200 libraries in the UK involved in the ‘Just Read’ giveaway supported by national charity The Reading Agency and children’s publisher Puffin and each gave away 50 copies of bestselling book Diary of a Wimpy Kid in September.
There have been some powerful and thought-provoking events at libraries including Hucknall Library, commemorating the immense contribution to our country made by so many people during the Great War.
The Summer Reading Challenge was another success and with one million children’s books being loaned from our libraries each year it is another reminder of the importance and popularity of reading.
Free internet and wi-fi in our libraries ensure access to technology too and our e-books are a growing trend too.
Join the huge number of people who already visit their local library by visiting one in your area in the new year.
You can find out more about these and other events by visiting Nottinghamshire County Council’s events page at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/whatson where you can also sign up to our Email Me service to get email alerts on your smartphone or tablet.