The city council agreed to reduce opening hours at its district libraries as part of its efforts to save £123 million over the next 5 years.
The library service was tasked with making savings totalling £1.7 million, over half its operating budget. Reducing the number of hours libraries are staffed from 656 hours per week to 421 means that while opening hours are being reduced accordingly, the council has been able to retain all of its branch libraries.
From 31 March, 2014, Bilston, Warstones and Wednesfield libraries will be staffed for 35 hours per week, Finchfield and Tettenhall libraries for 30 hours per week and Ashmore Park, Pendeford and Penn libraries for 24 hours per week. Long Knowle, East Park, Low Hill, Spring Vale and Whitmore Reans libraries will be staffed for 15 hours per week.
Blakenhall Library, which is part of Blakenhall Community and Healthy Living Centre, will become self service and be open at the same times the centre itself. Collingwood Library at Broadway Gardens remains self service and continues to operate for 15 hours per week.
The main Central Library, which accounts for around half of all library visits in Wolverhampton, will continue to open 56 hours per week.
Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: "We have worked hard to come up with new opening times which will suit the greatest number of people, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time and effort to complete a short survey which helped us identify the best times to open each individual branch.
"We've also listened carefully to comments about Long Knowle Library, which was originally intended to become self service only, and have agreed that it should be staffed for part of the week.
"In an ideal world, we wouldn't need to do this - but due to Central Government cutbacks we are having to deal with an unprecedented financial challenge and must save a further £123 million over the next 5 years, on top of the £100 million the council has saved over the last few years.
"By reducing library opening hours, we have been able to make vital savings while also keeping libraries open at the times when most people want to use them - and I hope that customers agree it is better to have libraries with reduced opening hours than to not have one at all.
"Furthermore, we're introducing self service machines into all of our branch libraries which don't already have them over the next few months which may enable us to open libraries for longer than anticipated. We're also working with volunteers to establish Friends groups and, together, these should enable us to open the libraries for longer, particularly those within community hubs."
"Once again, can I thank everyone who has helped shape these new opening times and reassure them that we'll be reviewing them in a few months' time to make sure they are working well for as many of our customers as possible."
The new opening hours for each library can be found at Type=links;Linkid=3223;Title=Library opening hours;Target=_blank; and will be introduced from 31 March, 2014.
- released: Monday 17 March, 2014