Council responds to calls for library hours to be reinstated

DORSET Council has responded to a petition calling for recent changes to opening hours at Swanage Library to be reinstated.

Campaigners say that the change in opening hours, which saw Saturday hours shortened in exchange for the library to be opened on Tuesdays, actually alienates those in work and students who cannot access the library during the week.

Dorset Council says the change in hours means it can support “the broadest range of customers” but that they will be meeting with local councillors soon to consider the community feedback.

The library has seen reduced hours since the start of July after Dorset Council launched a consultation looking into the community use of the services across the county.

As part of this, new operating hours have been put in place for 23 of the county’s libraries – including Swanage Library.

The changes form part of the local authority’s 10-year library strategy, which was agreed in July last year.

READ MORE: New library hours criticised for alienating young people and the employed

The council said it updated the library hours “with consideration to the evidenced community need and the community feedback received over the course of two phases of public consultation.”

The spokesperson said: “Swanage Library has maintained its opening hours of 30 hours per week, but we have expanded daily provision, now open across five days instead of four.

“We have kept Saturday morning opening in place, which ensures the current programme of Saturday events can continue uninterrupted. It also supports our opening hours with the highest hourly visitor rate.

“Our new opening hours allow us to support the broadest range of customers including pre-school children, home-schooled children and their carers, retirees, those who do not work, residents who not have access to digital services and school age children.

“Evidence from the consultation showed Tuesday was the most popular for new day time opening hours.

“We are aware of community feedback to Saturday opening and we are listening to, and talking with, the community.

“We are due to meet with local councillors soon to consider community feedback and discuss the opportunities available within the framework of the Library Strategy.”

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