A consultation has been launched to gauge people's views on the council's preferred option for the future of Ulverston’s library services.

Ulverston King’s Road Library closed on September 1 2023 due to ‘electrical issues’.

A temporary library service was set up in the Market Hall and The Coronation Hall's Ante Room. It is now based solely in the Supper Room of The Coro.

Now the council has released artist impressions of its preferred option to move all library services to The Coro which, the council says, would result in millions of pounds of investment into the iconic building.

Proposals were created after meetings with architects and independent consultants.

The aim is to create an enhanced and expanded library including new children’s library and community activity spaces.

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This would include a re-modelling of the building which would provide a new café and more flexible spaces for community use.

An online survey includes more information about including plans, illustrations and a ‘walk-through’ video showing how the library and re-modelled Coro could look.

Eight options have been analysed which ranged from ‘do nothing’ to light-touch upgrades and full refurbishments (including combinations of both) of the King’s Road Library building and The Coro.

The were then assessed by independent social and economic research experts Ekosgen and included:

  • How the options most effectively meet community needs and support a strong sense of community

  • How the options best improve the vitality, diversity and sustainability of the library service and The Coro

  • How they contribute to the regeneration vision in the Ulverston Place Plan 

  • How affordable and achievable each option is, and which offers the best value for money for Council Tax payers

After considering all the eight, the one deemed as having the greatest potential was investment in The Coro to enable a co-location of Ulverston Library Service.

It was decided this would focus cultural, learning and creative arts in one place and would involve re-modelling The Coro building.

Layout changes would include re-locating office spaces and the upstairs bar and kitchen to enable an expanded library on the first floor.

New flexible community spaces would be created on both the ground and first floors, accessible toilet facilities on the ground and first floors - and a new café bar area for both library and venue users.

The council is now inviting views before final decisions are made.

(Image: Visualisation of library space) All members of Ulverston Library will be contacted directly, as will groups and organisations that regularly use the Coro and Library.

Anyone unable to access the online consultation can complete a paper version of the survey available from Ulverston Temporary Library in The Coro - where there are also displays and more information about the proposal.

Councillor Virginia Taylor, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, said: "We recognise the huge value of our libraries, not only as places to borrow books, but also as places to study and access IT facilities. They are places for the arts, for voluntary groups and, increasingly, they are places delivering community-based services and community meeting spaces.

"We are also committed to making sure our services can be delivered in fit-for-purpose community buildings. As a new authority, we need to make sure we make best use of our buildings and we need to ensure our services can be delivered in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible, so that they are sustainable in the long-term.

(Image: Westmorland and Furness Council) "That isn’t always easy. Finding the balance between providing the best services and being cost-effective is a challenge.

"Which is why we believe it is crucially important to look very carefully at how we provide and invest in important services like libraries before we make any decisions.

"We have been through exactly the same process with the remodelling of our libraries in Kendal and Barrow, which has resulted more flexible spaces being created for community and arts events and services such as adult learning and family hubs being moved into the buildings to make them more accessible to our communities.

"We have now carefully examined a range of options for the future of library services in Ulverston since the closure of the library on King’s Road due to electrical faults.

"We have taken into account how we can protect and enhance the current library service, how much investment would be needed to achieve our community aims, how cost-effective that would be and, importantly for Ulverston, how all of that relates to the future of The Coro.

"We have looked at options including the cost of re-opening King’s Road and how a permanent co-location in The Coro might work alongside and complement the venue. We wanted to look in detail at how different options, combinations of options and levels of investment would best support the future of both the library service and The Coro.

(Image: Westmorland and Furness Council) "If finally approved, the preferred option would result in millions of pounds of investment in The Coro, not only to create an expanded library but also improve The Coro itself, with a new community café and more flexible spaces for community use. The independent assessment concludes this would benefit library users, the wider Ulverston community and improve the long-term sustainability of The Coro.

"We believe this represents an exciting opportunity but it is now vitally important that we understand your thoughts on this proposal before any final decisions are made.

"We fully appreciate and understand the level of interest in the future of library services in Ulverston. It is one of our busiest and most popular libraries and I want to reassure you that, throughout this process, we have been committed to looking at opportunities to improve and enhance the library offer in Ulverston, whilst also thinking about the best long-term interests of The Coro and how any investment best supports the Ulverston community and the ambitions in the Ulverston Place Plan.’"

The link can be found under the URL https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UlvLibraryCoroWF