Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36(3) pp 548-568

Public libraries make an important contribution to the wellbeing of local people often acting as community hubs by reducing the isolation felt by vulnerable members of society through promoting social interaction and supporting the wider needs of local communities. However, access to libraries is threatened in Wales, as elsewhere in the UK, by uncertainty stemming from changes in local government service delivery models, austerity-driven cuts in public spending, changing demands on the service from the public and the potential impacts of new developments in digital services and technologies. Drawing on network-based analysis of changes to library services in a predominantly rural authority in South-West Wales, the aim of this paper is to demonstrate how Geographical Information Systems can be used to monitor the impacts of alternative models of provision currently being considered by library authorities. By examining the spatial impacts of changes in services following a period of re-configuration in this library authority, we point the way to methods that enable levels of provision that meet community needs to be sought during times of budgetary pressures and proposed changes to the delivery of public services.