Shropshire Council has been consulting on reducing library hours across the county. In Ludlow, it wants to close the library on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. I think this consultation is too soon. We need to sort out the future of the library as a community and service hub first. I also believe that the library should remain open on Saturday afternoons.
I don’t find this consultation, which closed on 6 July, very helpful, as it is just covers opening hours, while the main issue is staffing levels. Shropshire Council plans to reduce the libraries budget by £585,000 this financial year. This can only lead to a substantial reduction in staffing levels and a considerable degradation of the level of service provide. Against this, cuts in library hours are a much smaller issue. But they are an issue we can’t ignore.
The proposed cuts to Ludlow’s opening hours are badly timed and will achieve little. The total saving is £4,800, less than 1% of the required budget savings this year. Discussions are underway about how the library might increase its role as a customer service hub and how it might be managed. Any change to hours should follow these discussions, not precede them.
Ludlow library is not well used on Friday evenings but it is busy on Saturday afternoon, when it is used by a lot of shoppers and their families. Unfortunately, detailed usage figures by hour of day are not available.
The library should at the very least remain open on Saturday afternoons.