Residents are to get the opportunity to have their say on plans to revise opening hours at seven Derbyshire libraries.
Derbyshire County Council has launched local consultations at the following libraries so that people can give their views on opening times and reduced hours; Brimington, Clowne, Creswell, Duffield, Gamesley, Killamarsh and Somercotes.
The changes are part of an overall revision of opening hours across all county council libraries, which are an element of the council’s innovative Libraries for Derbyshire programme agreed last year.
As well as reduced opening hours, the Libraries for Derbyshire programme also included transferring 20 of the council’s 45 libraries over to community groups and organisations.
Revised opening hours for the 25 libraries staying under county council management have already been agreed and were introduced last Monday (30 Sept). Although these libraries will see a reduction in overall opening hours, the revised hours ensure they will still be open when most people regularly use them.
Of the 20 libraries to be transferred to community management, nine where community groups have already come forward to express an interest will not be changed by the council at this time. Any changes would be made by the groups that take them over. They would still need to meet the minimum requirement set for their library, which would include an evening and weekend opening if this is currently offered.
It is anticipated that once established, community managed libraries may extend current opening hours as has been seen in other parts of the country.
Four libraries earmarked for community management where groups have yet to come forward already open slightly under 18 hours per week, and these opening hours will stay the same.
The local consultations, which will run for six weeks, from 7 October to 17 November, cover the remaining seven libraries earmarked for community management where groups have yet to come forward. These libraries are currently open for more than 18 hours per week.
The seven will all see a reduction in opening hours to 18 hours per week, and the consultations will ask users which days or specific hours would suit them best for the library to be open. They will be given tick box options and also space on the form to explain reasons for their choices and give further comment.
Separate online consultation forms are available for each of the seven libraries. Printed copies of the consultations are also available at each of the seven libraries.
Following the consultation all the responses will be gathered in and analysed before revised opening hours for each library are announced.
Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism, Councillor Barry Lewis, said: “These changes are an integral part of the overall Libraries for Derbyshire programme and the aim is to reduce hours when each library is at its quietest to cause minimum disruption to users, and ensure it is open when it has been traditionally at its busiest.
“At the seven libraries where there is a local consultation, it’s essential that people who use the library take part and let us know what times suit them best and why. We want to make this as seamless as possible and cause the least inconvenience.”
Councillor Lewis added: “These changes will help to achieve the necessary savings, but will also ensure we have a library service which reflects people’s changing habits and how they are increasingly using new technology to access books and other information. We want to ensure we have a thriving library service that suits the people who use it, and we need communities to work together with us to ensure this happens.”