Reduced library opening times to be introduced next month

Update: Revised opening hours were agreed by East Sussex County Council last year.

It has recently been announced the new hours will come into effect on the 28th November:

Day New Opening Times
Monday 12.30pm to 5pm
Tuesday 10am to 5pm
Wednesday 10am to 2pm
Thursday 11am to 6pm
Friday 10am to 5pm
Saturday 10am to 5pm

Proposals to cut opening hours at Crowborough Library by a quarter.

By reducing staff, levels of stock and opening hours, East Sussex library service have said they can make savings of £2million over the next three years.

Pine-Grove-Atrium-featureAt a meeting next week, the Council’s Cabinet will be asked to agree the Libraries’ Transformation Programme and consider arrangements for consulting with residents about the changes. Many other local authorities have undertaken a strategic review of their library services.  However because some failed to carry-out a sufficiently detailed needs they finished-up being taken to a judicial review.

Opening Times at Crowborough Library

Under the measures in East Sussex, the opening hours of Crowborough Library would be cut from 49 hours per week to 36.5:

Current Proposed
Monday 9.30am – 5.30pm 12.30pm – 5pm
Tuesday 10am – 5.30pm 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 9.30am – 5.30pm 10am – 2pm
Thursday 9.30am – 7pm 11am – 6pm
Friday 9.30am – 7pm 10am – 5pm
Saturday 9.30am – 4pm 10am – 5pm
Sunday Closed Closed

Forest Row Library would no longer open on a Monday afternoon, and would see its opening times reduce from 15 to 12 hours per week.

Rupert Clubb, director for communities, economy and transport said

When drawing up these proposals, we have given careful consideration to when and how all of our libraries and services are used.  We have taken into account data which shows that vast majority of people visit libraries and use services between 10am and 5pm.

Under these proposals, the buildings would be closed at quieter times but people will still be able to use libraries at varying times throughout the week, from Monday to Saturday.  Making changes to opening hours will mean we can continue to provide a comprehensive library service for residents across East Sussex.

ESCC are also proposing to cut the amount of money they spend on buying library materials by £250,000.  In a comparison with eight other similar authorities, they found they spend the second highest amount at £1,887 per 1000 members of the population.  The Council’s report states by focussing particularly on materials that are in declining demand (e.g. music CDs, reference books and periodicals) it is anticiapted that the proposed reduction will have limited impact on the public.

Customer demand for library services is changing.  Over the past five years there has been an 87% rise in use of the e-library and a 568% increase in the download of e-books, compared to an 11% decrease in physical visits and a 20% reduction in stock issues.  A Freedom of Information request by CrowboroughLife in October 2014 revealed there were 10,439 registered users of Crowborough Library.  Whereas the number of items borrowed from Crowborough Library has been falling, Forest Row saw an increase in borrowing during the same timescale.

Total Items borrowed from Crowborough and Forest Row libraries:

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Crowborough 173,680 157,178 146,717 134,342 128,789
Forest Row 11,322 10,079 12,276 16,444 18,658

To view the full report to Cabinet, visit the Council’s website:  new.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil

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