Hatter's Castle library

Dumbarton Public Library in Strathleven Place.

Library hours report presents a false picture of usage, it is claimed

Fears have been expressed that the report on library services in West Dunbartonshire may give a misleading picture of the actual situation.

Insiders at the council says that statistics on library usage have been compiled in a way that gives a false impression that some libraries are used more than others when that is not in fact the case.

One library mole told The Democrat: “They have chosen a strange way of going about this. It seems that the figures are being compiled in a way that allocates the same usage points for a person dropping into Dalmuir Library for five or ten minutes and a person using Dumbarton Library all day for research and study.

“The picture this paints of actual usage is far from accurate in this report.”

This may be why the public consultation on proposed new opening hours at West Dunbartonshire libraries has been extended until Monday, January 8 2018.

The Council is considering introducing a new timetable that better matches resident demand, and removes current inefficient opening times – such as Saturday afternoons – when branches are poorly used. At a meeting of the council last week, Councillors agreed to extend the consultation from its initial closing date of Thursday, December 28, to give the public more time to have their say.

A new library timetable is needed to reduce the high employee costs of the current library service, and because the change would free-up savings to allow for a much-needed £421,000 investment in branches. This would be spent on a range of areas including renovating our children’s areas, improving book display areas and creating more welcoming help desks and general environments. Officers worked with librarians and frontline staff to develop the proposed new timetable, which is both efficient and based upon residents’ demands. The new timetable (shown below) would see all eight branches remain open and provide a total of 248 hours per week of service. It would also allow key services such as Bookbug, employability sessions and Code Club to continue.

Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “This is an important consultation for our residents and we are keen to listen to those people and groups who wanted more time to have their say on the timetable. Extending the consultation to January 8, 2018, will mean it has run for just short of four weeks which should give everyone the opportunity to get involved. I’d also like to thank the 500 residents who have already taken part in what has been an impressive early response.

“It is vital that we get the new timetable right. The existing one is more than five years old, expensive to operate and leaves branches open at times when they are barely used. This proposal would retain all eight branches across West Dunbartonshire and creates savings which can then be reinvested to improve the branches and the experience for our residents. That is a sensible and positive approach to take.”

Councillor Iain McLaren, Depute Convener of Corporate Services, added: “I am confident this extension will allow the community to give their views on these proposed timetable changes so we can match opening hours to the times when people most want to use the service.”

Residents can give their views by filling in the survey at WDC Libraries Timetable Survey or by visiting their local branch.

The result of the consultation will be presented to the Corporate Services Committee in February 2018.

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