Cabinet to agree longer opening hours and more staff for libraries

Move follows extensive consultation with borough residents

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Longer opening hours, more staff and more computers with internet access are all on the way at local libraries.

H&F Council's cabinet is due to agree plans to make the borough's library service more accessible and cost-effective at its meeting on Monday, 14 May. This follows an extensive consultation with library users, to which more than 1,000 people responded. Nearly 200 people attended a series of consultation meetings held at local libraries with cabinet members and library managers.

Longer opening hours was the most popular proposal put forward in the consultation - attracting the highest number (526) of positive responses. As a result, the cabinet is recommending that weekly opening hours at the borough's six libraries are increased to 318 from October - an overall increase of 39.5 hours per week and 15 hours more than originally consulted on.

Cllr Antony Lillis, cabinet member for community and children's services, said, "We want libraries to open for longer and at times which are more convenient for the majority of users. We plan to employ a smaller number of qualified librarians who will focus on developing and promoting the overall service. This will enable us to employ more library staff overall to deliver improved opening hours. This was a popular option in the consultation and we have also responded to requests for late opening. The consultation meetings confirmed that most users are unaware of the qualifications of staff serving them and don't distinguish between librarians and library assistants."

The main recommendations, due to be agreed by the cabinet on 14 May, are:

  • Longer opening hours - all libraries to open on a Wednesday, instead of just Hammersmith Library and Fulham Library; extended Sunday opening hours at Hammersmith Library
  • Seven more full-time staff and one extra part-time staff member to run this enhanced service, with qualified librarians concentrating on improving and making better use of the stock, marketing and promoting the service.
  • Nearly doubling the number of computers with internet access at Hammersmith Library from 21 to 40.
  • Fees and charges for items such as DVDs will be brought into line with those in other local authorities.
  • The voluntary sector will be approached to run a home library service for residents who are unable to get out to their local library because of age, illness or disability. The service would continue to deliver to users in their own homes and would be supported by outreach library assistants for at least the first six months of operation.
  • Closure of the mobile library, which is in decline. Former mobile library users who have difficulty reaching a library building would be assessed to become users of home library service.

May 1, 2007