Hampshire residents are being asked their views on changes to opening times at their local libraries, following a recent decision on the future of the Library Service, which will see the staffed hours of 40 libraries reduced by an average of 20%.
The consultation on staffed opening hours will run from midday on 3 August and until 11:59pm on 17 August 2020. Hampshire residents are invited to fill out the survey online at www.hants.gov.uk/library-consultation, and groups or organisations interested in volunteering to extend the proposed hours are being encouraged to contact the Library Service.
Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage at Hampshire County Council, said:
We’ve agreed a vision for the future of Hampshire’s Library Service, supported by over 70% of those who responded to the first part of the consultation, which will allow us to adapt to the changing needs of our customers and provide the highest-quality library service possible within our financial means – one that is fit for the future.
The decision was made following an extensive public consultation, to which 21,200 people and organisations responded. Proposals to deliver efficiencies, generate additional income and explore different ways of delivering library services all received high levels of support. The changes agreed will see eight libraries closed and a reduction in staffed opening hours of the remaining libraries averaging 20%. A package of measures is being put in place to help the eight libraries transition into independent community libraries, as well support for existing community libraries.
Councillor Woodward continued:
We’ve listened to what people told us, and I’m pleased we’ve found a way whereby most of the libraries are likely to remain open as independent community libraries with fresh book support from the County Council, alongside financial and professional advice to help them make the transition.
The focus of this second consultation is on the 40 council-run libraries and the needs of those individual communities, and I’d encourage people to take part. It’s important we hear from local people who use their local libraries about the staffed opening hours which are the most important and the most useful to them. We’re also very open to ideas from local groups or organisations who might wish to offer volunteer support to expand on those staffed opening hours to keep their library open to the public longer on some days.
The changes to hours will be largely completed by January 2021.
Groups or organisations wishing to express an interest in extending the opening hours of libraries should contact the Library Service via: County.Library.HQ@hants.gov.uk.
Paper copies of the consultation are available in libraries for those unable to fill out the survey online.