New library hours criticised for alienating young people and the employed

A MOVE to reduce the opening hours at Swanage Library has been criticized by locals who say that the new hours alienate young people and those in work.

The move has seen a reduction in Saturday hours from 9.30am – 4pm to 10am – 1pm, with the library now open on Tuesdays – a time when many library users would be in work or school.

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.

A petition, which calls for the previous Saturday hours to be reinstated, has been launched and it states that the consultation found that young people and the employed wanted Saturday and late-night opening with no demand for the library to be open on a Tuesday.

READ MORE: New opening hours for Dorset libraries move a step closer – check yours

The petition said that the cut in hours will reduce the time available for children to make use of the facilities and that the change in hours would “disproportionally disadvantage those least able to improve their circumstances.”

While library hours have been altered in Swanage, Dorset Council said that it is able to keep almost the same number of weekly staffed hours across its library network – 630 instead of 631

Aidan Dunn, Executive Director for Corporate Development at the council said: “Over the course of two phases of public consultation we built a clear picture of both what our current library users and our non-library users wanted to see from us, now and in the future.

“The last time our service was reviewed was over 10 years ago. Since then, there have been significant changes in what our customers want from their libraries.

“Libraries are now about so much more than just books. They’ve become community spaces offering a range of activities, information and support, providing easier access for Dorset residents.”

To view the petition click here.

Dorset Council was contacted for comment.

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