Ludlow Library and council customer service opening hours to be cut – we are entering dangerous territory (updated)

Updated 25 May 2016

The consultation is now live online.

https://new.shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/library-opening-times-review/

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.

“Stark messages”

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.”

Ludlow Library

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
Thurs Closed Closed
Fri 9.30 – 7.30 9.30 – 5.00
Sat 9.00 – 5.00 9.30 – 1.00
Total hours 40.5 33.5

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
Sat Closed Closed
Total hours 40 32

The registrar service is expected to retain its current hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 10am to 2pm (closed on Tuesdays).

Other towns

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.

4 thoughts on “Ludlow Library and council customer service opening hours to be cut – we are entering dangerous territory (updated)

  1. To maintain evening hours, why not delay opening ’till noon on a Friday and maintain the 1930 hrs time to close, or even make evening hours on another day of the week with delayed opening on that day. Seems to me some market research needs to be done on what the customer wants rather than adjusting staff hours for a 9 till 5 day.

  2. This can indeed be a solution. When I was a librarian in Liverpool, it worked well. It may be that the real thinking behind this is to avoid paying staff extra allowances for evening and Saturday afternoon duties. Many library authorities have trimmed their opening hours with this intention.

  3. So far, with a population of about 11,000, like it or not, but a tiny fraction of those, some 600 or so at the last count, myself included, have signed the online petition to help try and keep the library open. Admittedly, whether by accident or design, the Council has done its best to make it difficult for the petition to be accessed, insofar as I suspect that most of those using the library are elderly and not necessarily up to speed with modern technology, or have access to it, so as to enable them to sign up to an online petition.

    Doubtless the proposed reduction in hours is just the start of whittling away the service altogether but in all seriousness I am given to wondering just how many people actually use it? Is it a case of wanting to keep it because there has always been a library in Ludlow? A fondness for something that has outlived its usefulness. It is reminiscent of the 1960s when a railway line was threatened with closure there were of course the usual protests, even if no-one actually used it. Equally it is also true that running down a service to the point where it becomes of no earthly use to anyone becomes self-fulfilling in leading to its ultimate demise.

    Nonetheless, I have to say that from what I have seen of its non-fiction, and equally that held at Shrewsbury, much of the library stock in this county is hopelessly out-of-date and of no real use to man nor beast. Indeed, obtaining books not held in the county can be achieved much more quickly and at a fraction of the cost by purchasing them from Amazon, and then, if no longer needed, selling them on which, while regrettable, is but a sign of the times.

    There is not a bottomless pit of money yet no-one seems to realise that these services have to be paid for, be it a loss making rural bus service, a Council subsidised leisure centre that does not pay its way, or indeed a library that, like it or not, no-one really uses.

    Nonetheless when Shropshire Council has divested itself of everything, and is still millions of pounds in debt, what then?

  4. Is there any possibility of self help i.e. a team of volunteer librarians who, with a little training, can offer a few hours a week ? I would be pleased to work in the library on Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours, or in an evening between 5.00 and 7.00.

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