Library users are being asked to have their say about proposed new opening times for their local branch by completing a short survey.

Wolverhampton City Council is consulting on plans to reduce opening hours at the city's district libraries as it seeks to save £123 million over the next 5 years.

As well as giving their views on the proposal by taking part in the consultation, customers are being asked to complete a short survey from which they can select their preferred opening times for their local library from one of 2 possible weekly schedules. Surveys can be completed online at Type=links;Linkid=3127;Title=Survey Monkey - Review of Library Opening Times;Target=_blank; or at local libraries.

Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: "We do not want to see the closure of any of our libraries, but we must face up to the fact that, due to Government cutbacks, we are having to deal with an unprecedented financial challenge.

"The council needs to save a further £123 million over the next 5 years - on top of the £100 million it has saved over the last few years.

"As a result we must further reduce the cost of the services the council provides, and that includes Wolverhampton's libraries.

"We have therefore put forward proposals to reduce the number of hours that our branches are staffed and open to the public, which would enable us to make vital savings while, importantly, keeping all of our libraries open at the times when most people want to use them."

The library service has been tasked with making savings of £1.7 million, over half its current operating budget. The proposals would reduce the total number of hours libraries are staffed from 656 hours per week to 421.

Under the proposals, Bilston, Warstones and Wednesfield libraries would be staffed for 39 hours per week, Finchfield and Tettenhall libraries for 30 hours per week and Ashmore Park, Pendeford and Penn libraries for 24 hours per week. East Park, Low Hill, Spring Vale and Whitmore Reans libraries would be staffed for 15 hours per week, while Blakenhall and Long Knowle libraries would become self serve, like Collingwood Library.

The main Central Library, which accounts for around half of all library visits in Wolverhampton, would continue to be open 56 hours per week, though staffing would be reduced as elsewhere.

Councillor Mattu said: "Each branch has its own busy and quiet periods and it makes sense to ensure that they are open when the majority of people want to use them. We have therefore analysed usage of the various branches carefully and assigned staff hours to each accordingly to come up with 2 possible weekly opening schedules for each branch.

"It should be stressed that this is just a proposal at this stage, but if the changes are approved, we want to ensure that people have had the chance to help shape the opening hours for their local branch by completing this survey."

The proposal to reduce library opening hours is one of 165 savings proposals which are being consulted on until Thursday 23 January, 2014. For more information, and to take part, please visit Type=articles;Articleid=1848;Title=Current consultations; or call 01902 551122.

  • released: Tuesday 14 January, 2014