Cut in opening hours of East Sussex libraries proposed

Eastbourne Library SUS-151109-105106001
Eastbourne Library SUS-151109-105106001

The opening hours of East Sussex libraries could be cut by around a quarter under new proposals.

East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet is due to approve a public consultation on the proposed changes, which could see all libraries open only between 10am-5pm.

One late night opening until 6pm would be retained on a Thursday for every library that currently opens past 5.30pm.

The proposals would result in a reduction in overall opening hours across the county of around 25 per cent and could save the county council £500,000 a year.

An officers’ report reads: “Whilst the focus of the proposal is to save money by reducing library opening hours at times when libraries are least well used, we cannot make all the savings we need to make by only reducing opening hours before 10am and after 5pm.

“By making some further changes to opening hours, it would be possible to retain a comprehensive service across the county.”

In percentage terms Hollington Library’s opening hours would be reduced the most, opening eight hours less a week, a reduction of 27 per cent.

The smallest reduction would be Mayfield Library, which would lose an hour a week, the equivalent of eight per cent of its weekly opening hours.

The report states that more than 85 per cent of library visits take place between 10am and 5pm Monday to Saturday.

While over the past five years there has been an 87 per cent increase in the use of the e-library, and a 568 per cent increase in e-book downloads, compared to an 11 percent decrease in physical visits and a 20 per cent reduction in stock issues.

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.”

He added: “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.”

A staff consultation on the new proposed staffing structure was launched in November 2015.

ESCC’s Cabinet is set to approve the Libraries’ Transformation Programme on Tuesday December 15.

The consultation on proposed new opening hours would run from January to April 2016.

For a list of proposed new library opening times click here

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