New strategy for Hampshire’s Libraries moves forward
As Hampshire’s Library Service continues to adapt for the future, changes to staffed opening hours will be put in place gradually over the next three months, following a county-wide consultation which indicated 72% of respondents would be content with the new hours at their local library, or that their needs would be met.
The County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with us – our aim is to provide the best possible Library Service within our means and so it’s really important we understand how we can meet the needs of all Hampshire residents. This is why our proposals for new staffed opening times have differed slightly for each library, to ensure that each branch is open at the most appropriate times for its local community; and indeed, why we have changed some proposals at certain libraries following feedback that local people wanted more library access for their children at after-school times.”
The consultation on staffed opening times, which began on 3 August and closed on 17 August, follows a recent decisionon plans to transform the Library Service to meet the changing needs of its customers and to achieve savings of £1.76 million. These plans include: staffed hours of 40 libraries being reduced by an average of 20%; increasing available support for libraries to transition to independent community libraries; and the closure of eight libraries which account for only 5% of visits to all libraries in Hampshire.
Of the 4,446 responses received from 3,091 respondents (some customers responded on behalf of more than one library), 35% said they were content with the new opening times while 37% said that while the new opening times would not be their preference, they would meet their needs. Of the total responses, 28% indicated that the new opening hours would not meet their needs, and as a result, the proposed new staffed hours for Alresford, Bishop’s Waltham and West End libraries have been revised.
Councillor Woodward continued: “The changes to hours will be largely completed by January 2021, and each library will be updating customers through their normal branch communication channels as these are put in place. Customers will be aware that temporary hours have already been in place across our libraries as part of our response to COVID-19, and I am pleased to say most of our libraries have now redistributed their current hours to allow for them to be open on Saturdays, making it easier for families whose children have returned to school to access their local library during the weekend.”
To find out more about the Hampshire Library Service and individual branch openings times, visit hants.gov.uk/librariesandarchives/library