Joint Overview Committee to review draft Library strategy

In October 2021, Dorset Council launched an 11-week public consultation to inform how they develop and deliver the library service in the future.

The consultation did not include any proposals for change, it sought the views of library users and non-users, partners, businesses, and employees to understand how the service could better meet the needs of residents now and in the future.

Officers analysed responses from over 7,500 respondents. The survey responses, brought together with engagement workshops, evidence around local need, and responses from partners informed the draft strategy which will go to Joint Overview Committee next month. The draft library strategy will then be subject to a second public consultation this summer.

Responses highlighted the importance of libraries to Dorset’s communities and supported the development of the service to better meet the needs of communities.

In detail, the responses were:


  1. 84.6 per cent of respondents enjoyed going to their local library to choose which books or DVDs to borrow from the shelves 
  2. 54.7 per cent enjoyed taking part in activities  
  3. when asked what they would most like to see in their local library in the future, the majority of comments were in favour of more clubs. 54.4 per cent would like to see more arts and crafts sessions, 37.6 percent would like to see more board game and role play clubs and 36.9 per cent would like more computer, Minecraft and Virtual Reality clubs


  1.  91.5 per cent of library users visit library buildings with 66 per cent of library users using online services indicating that online use does not reduce in person attendance
  2. when asked what would encourage future visits to a library, range of stock and coffee shops were most popular amongst library users and non–library users
  3. 63 per cent of library users would be encouraged to visit by a better range and choice of stock  and 39 per cent by having a coffee shop available in the library  
  4. 46.5 per cent of non-library users however would be encouraged by having a coffee shop available in the library and 34.3 per cent by a better range and choice of stock  
  5. 80 per cent of non-library users had visited Dorset’s libraries in the past. When asked the main reason that they did not use the library service, the most common response was that they buy books or get information from the internet so do not need to visit the library 
  6. a common reason from non-library not using the service was the perception that libraries were places for books, information or DVDs only 

 Business, partner and employee

Responses showed a need for community spaces, hot-desking and co-working spaces and the ability for organisations to use libraries to run clinics or groups to support communities with health, wellbeing, and safety.

When asked what three words respondents would like to use to describe the service in 10 years’ time, accessible, welcoming and community were the most popular.  

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said:

“Our current library strategy is 11 years old and so much has changed over those 11 years, but Dorset’s libraries have remained at the heart of our communities. It was important that we heard from as many people as possible and I am really pleased that we received over 7,500 responses, thank you to everyone who had their say. This first phase of consultation is taking us one step closer to providing a more customer focussed and modern service.

Your responses have helped us shape our new draft strategy which will go to public consultation this summer. We look forward to hearing your views again in a few months, in the meantime please come and visit our libraries and experience all that they have offer  – there really is something for everyone!”

You can read the survey summary reports in more detail here. A summary report is also available which draws on all the engagement activity undertaken during phase one consultation to inform this library strategy. The report includes four areas of focus which the draft strategy will take into account. Printed copies of each report will be available for review at libraries.

#LetsTalkLibraries Phase one survey responses
The survey ran for 11 weeks from October 25, 2021, to January 7 2022. The survey responses, brought together with engagement workshops, evidence around local need and responses from partners informed the draft strategy. In addition to the main survey, there was a dedicated children’s survey for ages 5-15 years and a dedicated business, partner and employee survey.

Paper copies were made available, and a telephony service was provided by Dorset Direct for those who were not able to complete the survey online.

To say thank you to those who completed the survey, there was the option to be entered into a prize draw to win one of two prizes, either a Kindle Paperwhite (8GB) or an Amazon Echo Dot, for the main survey. Children who completed the survey could win a £25 Amazon Voucher (three vouchers were awarded). Employees of Dorset Council were not eligible to enter the prize draw.

Survey Type  Library User Non-library user  Total 
Children’s survey

(5-15yr old)

458 18 476
16yr+ survey 6561 339 6,927

(27 incomplete responses)

Employee, partner & business survey 275 n/a 275
Overall Total  7,651

For more information on the consultation, please visit

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