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Library review

South Gloucestershire libraries provide a statutory service to everyone in South Gloucestershire and this is currently delivered through a network of 13 branch libraries and one mobile library.

The council savings programme is our response to national austerity measures and the sharp fall in the amount of grant funding received from central government. We have already saved £56 million mainly through efficiency measures but we are now planning to save a further £22 million by 2019-20. All areas of the council have been given outline savings targets on this journey towards 2020.

Our library service has been identified as an area which could potentially contribute towards these savings. To understand how this might be achieved we ran a first phase of consultation over spring and summer 2016 and based on the feedback we amended our plans and carried out further consultation in autumn 2016. Both these consultations looked at potential delivery options for the library service in the future.

A decision has now been taken on the future of the service and the following changes are being made to the service and will take effect on 1 October, 2017.

How the service will change

Open Access and staffed opening hours

Open Access is the system we are installing within many of our libraries to extend opening hours when no staff are on duty. We will install Open Access in the following libraries enabling them to open 8.30am to 7.30pm seven days per week with staffed hours as indicated:

  • Cadbury Heath Library – 24 hours
  • Downend Library – 26 hours
  • Emersons Green Library – 26 hours
  • Filton Library – 26 hours
  • Staple Hill Library – 26 hours
  • Thornbury Library – 35 hours
  • Winterbourne Library – 24 hours
  • Yate Library – 35 hours

There are a number of libraries where alternative arrangements will be made:

Bradley Stoke Library

Open Access has already been installed. The library is open 8am to 9.30pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm at weekends. The staffed opening hours from 1 October will be 35 hours per week.

Chipping Sodbury Library

Open Access will not be installed. The service will be transferred to the community and will be operated by volunteers, but with South Gloucestershire Council continuing to fund the building, IT and stock support.

Hanham Library

The assessment of the fire risk highlighted that the library would need additional fire safety measures to enable people with physical disabilities to exit the building in the event of a fire during unstaffed hours. This was an issue unique to Hanham Library. We are therefore not installing Open Access at Hanham Library.

Kingswood Library

Due to the plans to move the library into the Civic Centre in December 2017 we will not introduce Open Access to the current Kingswood Library, but the hours will reduce from 1 October. We plan to open the library within the Civic Centre with Open Access.

Patchway Library

Introducing Open Access into the Hub raised a number of issues around fire safety and access. We are therefore planning to introduce Open Access, but restricting access to the hub opening times (8.45am to 5pm Monday – Friday / Saturday morning).

In addition, Patchway Town Council has agreed to fund additional staffed hours so the staffed hours will be 33.5 hours per week. This would mean an extra 9.5 hours library access per week overall.

Individual library opening hours will be published locally closer to the time the changes come into effect to give the public the opportunity to register for Open Access services.

Mobile library

This will cease from 1 October 2017. We have had interest from three communities to establish community centre based services.

Book fund

As proposed, the amount of money set aside for purchase of new books will be reduced, but we will install Collection HQ software which will enable us to make maximum use of stock and reduce the time staff need to spend editing stock.

Next steps

The ECS Committee, at their meeting on 29 March, requested additional funding to make improvements to security of stock and buildings. This will be considered in June.

Over the summer there will be some disruption to services as Open Access is installed in libraries, we will keep users informed of any closures during this period.

Background papers

The committee report provides further detail on the proposals

Appendix 1 – The report has an appendix, which contains the decision report by director of Environment and Community Services, acting under delegated authority.

Accompanying the Committee report and appendices there are a number of reports on the findings from the consultation which include:

A copy of all 15,000 comments received as part of the consultation is available on request

The corporate health and safety section have assessed all library buildings to identify any local issues related to the introduction of Open Access and have produced risk assessments for each library.

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