Friends of Darlington Libraries recently surveyed people about the council’s planned move of Crown Street Library to the Dolphin Centre.
The report (the full version of which can be found in the attached pdf), based on surveying in October/November 2016, showed:

96% of respondents were satisfied with the library service at Crown Street, of which 86% were very satisfied and 10% satisfied.

94% stated that the current opening hours at Crown Street met their needs.

Respondents showed appreciation for the wide range of activities/services available at Crown Street Library as shown in open comments. Statistical information shows library is used for: borrowing books 71%; reference library 42%; art gallery 40%, local studies 35%, advice from librarians 31%; children’s library 26%; computers/IT suite 25%; archived material 24%. Other notable usage includes children’s activities, author events, courses and meetings/groups.

Responses suggest that the potential for generating income through development of additional activities and facilities at Crown Street is significant and positive and could realistically ensure the financial viability of the library.
Respondents expressed an interest in using:
café/coffee shop 85%;
book sales 59%;
exhibitions 59%;
gift shop selling local souvenirs etc 56%
Other popular suggestions included, craft stalls, pop-up events, Amazon collection point, workshop and publishing services.

60% of respondents who used the Dolphin Centre said that they would be unhappy with proposed changes to the Dolphin Centre building, 23% did not know and only 17% would be happy to see the proposed changes.

Respondents were interested in options for income generating development of the Dolphin Centre. 70% expressed an interest in at least one of the suggested options.
bowling alley 63%
spa facilities 45%
trampoline park 40%
climbing wall 39%.

Many respondents expressed concerns in open comments about the cost associated with the relocation of the library and felt that more sustainable investments could be made to make savings and generate income.
92% of respondents agreed that the people of Darlington deserve to have the provision of both a leisure centre and a central library within their current separate buildings.
Approximately two thirds of respondents made open comments as part of the survey. 98% of these comments opposed the council’s proposals. These comments along with the statistical evidence highlight the strength of feeling among the residents of Darlington.

The Friends conclude: “The council is urged to use these results, give serious consideration to the alternatives suggested and to listen to the deeply held opinions of local people.”