Give your views on library hours
Published on: 28 Oct 2016
WHICH days would you like Downend, Emersons Green and Staple Hill libraries to be staffed under the reduced service from next autumn?
That's the question South Gloucestershire Council would like residents to answer before it makes its final decision on how to “future proof” the district's libraries.
Thousands of people who responded to a consultation earlier this year on proposals to cut opening hours urged the council to protect libraries and make cuts elsewhere.
But members decided to pursue a system that would reduce staffed opening hours – although not quite as much as originally proposed – and introduce a swipe card system to allow registered users access to libraries at other times.
The council is now asking for views on the latest proposals, although it makes clear to respondents to this second consultation that the open access scheme is not an alternative to funding staffed hours.
“If open access was not implemented, then the staffed hours in this preferred option would not correspondingly increase,” the council document says.
The new proposal would see Yate, Bradley Stoke and Thornbury libraries each open for 35 hours a week; Emersons Green, Downend, Staple Hill, Hanham, Kingswood and Filton for 26 hours a week, and Patchway, Winterbourne and Cadbury Heath for 24 hours a week. Chipping Sodbury is set to be run by volunteers, while the mobile library service would cease.
Libraries have been divided into clusters, with Emersons Green, Downend, Staple Hill grouped together. The idea is that people in the area will have access to a staffed library six days a week. The council's preferred option for staffed opening hours in our area is as follows: Downend - Monday, Wednesday and Friday plus Saturday morning; Emersons Green and Staple Hill -Tuesday, Thursday and Friday plus Saturday morning.
Another option would be to staff every library for shorter hours every day, but this would not match current usage patterns. The council says it is keen to hear from people about any alternative proposals. The possibility of parish councils funding additional hours has also not been ruled out.
The swipe card scheme, which was not an option offered in the first consultation, would see registered members to use library facilities for 11 hours a day, seven days a week, between 8.30am and 7.30pm. They would be able to use all the services currently available when staff are present – use the quiet space to meet or study, borrow or return books and other items through the self-service kiosks, use the computers and Wi-Fi, or use the printer/photocopier.
A trial of the technology – which will cost £400,000 to install in all 12 libraries - is taking place in Bradley Stoke to inform the decision in the new year. Changes in hours would come in from October 2017.
Views can be submitted to the council until January 2, 2017. A consultation document and a frequently-asked questions document are available from all libraries and council offices or online at www.southglos.gov.uk/librarychanges
Public meetings will take place at Yate Library on November 1 and Kingswood Library on November 10 (7pm).