Updated 25 May 2016
The consultation is now live online.
The consultation documents show that a reduction in hours at Ludlow Library will save £4,800 a year. A separate consultation is planned for the reduction in hours for Shropshire Council’s customer services at the library.
Main article 24 May 2016
Shropshire Council has announced that it plans to cut the opening hours for Ludlow Library. It will shortly launch a consultation on the plans. This was due to start yesterday but has been delayed. I’ll provide a link to the consultation as soon as I have it.
If the cuts go through, it is expected that Ludlow Library would open from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, and Friday. The library would be closed on Thursday, as at present. It would no longer open on Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons. This is a reduction of seven hours a week. Shropshire Council’s customer services desk in the library will open for eight fewer hours each week.
We are entering dangerous territory. Once the opening hours for libraries and other public services are cut back, they are rarely restored. When people get used to facilities being closed a lot of the time, they use them less.
The council says that evenings and Saturday afternoons are the quietest periods for libraries. I am sure that is correct. But it is also true that many people cannot get to the library during the day, especially those who have full time jobs.
I am concerned too that the cuts to hours are coming at a time when Shropshire Council is trying to transfer the local library service to Ludlow Town Council. It is going to be very hard to negotiate a transfer deal if Shropshire Council keeps changing the goalposts.
Libraries are expanding the range of services they provide. I am far from convinced that reducing hours is the right way to go.
The cut in customer service hours is also a worry. I have not seen any information on current usage. Or whether the reduced service will be able to cope with demand.
I think it is rather crazy that registrar service continues to be open on Thursday, when the library and other customer services are closed, but shut on Wednesday, when the library and service point are open. Surely, it would make sense to align the customer service and registrar opening times.
On BBC Radio Shropshire today, Joanne Gallacher reported that she is, “hearing that the service will become more general, with staff and IT services spread across locations. There may also be a reduction in managers and admin staff – and more job sharing.”
The radio station also reports that Shropshire Council’s commissioning manager Neil Wilcox said there had been a “year-on-year decline in library usage”. He continued: “We are trying to design a library service that feels contemporary and reflects changing patterns of usage. It’s quite a difficult time for staff – and not just in libraries. There were fairly stark messages given across the whole range of services.”
The council is to propose a reduction of 7 hours a week.
|Day||Current hours||Proposed hours|
|Mon||9.30 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Tues||9.30 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Wed||9.30 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Fri||9.30 – 7.30||9.30 – 5.00|
|Sat||9.00 – 5.00||9.30 – 1.00|
Ludlow Customer Service Point
Shropshire Council’s customer service point is within the library. It provides council and public information and services, specialist advice sessions, and community information to help with everyday queries on health and care, money, leisure activities, what’s on and more… The council is aiming for a reduction of eight hours a week for the service point.
|Day||Current hours||Proposed hours|
|Mon||9.00 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Tues||9.00 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Wed||9.00 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
|Thurs||9.00 – 5.00||Closed|
|Fri||9.00 – 5.00||9.30 – 5.00|
The registrar service is expected to retain its current hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 10am to 2pm (closed on Tuesdays).
Bridgnorth Library and the customer service point will open the same hours as Ludlow. That means a cut of 14.5 opening hours for the library and 12 hours for the service point.
Much Wenlock Library will open for two fewer hours a week, closing at 5pm on Tuesday and Thursdays, not 6pm as at present.