Proposals include introducing an Enterprise Centre on part of the third floor of the library and significant enhancements to the other floors, such as a larger children's section and reception areas. The Enterprise Centre will offer a range of opportunities for job seekers, learners and entrepreneurs with events to improve skills and employability. It will also create a space for start-up businesses, individuals and mobile businesses to work, meet and share ideas. The Enterprise Centre will provide an income that is vital to support the broader library service.
The committee originally agreed recommendations for the proposals in March but this was then reviewed by the General Purposes Committee in April. At the meeting in April, Councillors agreed to refer the proposals back to the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee for further consideration. At the same time it was agreed to extend a consultation that was running on the draft strategy for the future approach to library services in Cambridgeshire, the results of which will also be discussed by Councillors at the meeting on 2 June.
Respondents to the consultation raised concerns about the Cambridgeshire Collection, which it is proposed to move to a new home in Ely, alongside the Cambridgeshire Archives, although this is a separate project. In view of these concerns, the report includes a recommendation to carry out separate consultation on this issue before any decision on the collection is made.
Concerns have also been raised about the amount of study space that will be left if the Enterprise Centre goes ahead and the effect on the book stock. The report highlights that no study spaces will be lost and virtually all of the books currently in the library, and all of the popular ones, will remain.
Cambridgeshire County Council's Executive Director: Economy, Transport and Environment, Graham Hughes said "Since the original meeting, a display has been available in Central Library providing the public with more information and floor plans. Frequently Asked Questions are available on our website and explain that all of the study spaces, all of the public PCs and most of the stock will still be freely available to library users. A public meeting has also taken place in the library. Councillors were also invited to a Member seminar which provided them with an opportunity to meet Kora's International Director."