More buildings, fewer books and reduced hours at local libraries
Dumbarton Public Library in Strathleven Place.
By Lucy Ashton
West Dunbartonshire libraries has moved to new, reduced opening hours with branches closing at allegedly quieter times and the money saved by the cuts going to a £421k investment in branch improvements.
The changes, which came in to effect on 1 July, are said to have been informed by two public consultations with library users who are said to have expressed a wish for all branches to remain open.
And for more money spent on cosmetic improvements to the buildings.
Residents are said to have highlighted Saturday afternoons and evenings as times they were less inclined to visit.
The new timetable introduced at all eight branches will provide 248 hours per week of library service in West Dunbartonshire.
It is also said to protect key services such as Bookbug, Rhyme Time and employability sessions. The timetable can be viewed online at http://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/media/4314881/new-library-timetable.pdf
As a result of the change, savings of £421,000 will be invested back in to branches. Members will see money spent on a range of areas including renovating children’s areas, improving book display areas, and creating more welcoming help desks and improved signage.
Councillor Ian Dickson, right, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “The new timetable means branches are open at times when residents told us they most wanted to visit, and closed when they were quietest. There are hundreds of hours of service being delivered, and the money being saved means we can significantly invest in our branches. This should help to increase satisfaction with existing users and attract new visitors. We also know residents value our libraries and have protected all eight branches and the events and activities which are enjoyed every week.”
Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Convener of Corporate Services, said: “The money saved by introducing the new opening hours will be reinvested back in our branches to make them even more attractive places to visit. The library has long been just a place to borrow books. Being a member of your local library now offers you and your family the opportunity to participate in a range of both fun and educational courses and opens a new world of entertainment for all the family. In addition our library service also offers the ability to access books and magazines 24 hours a day online and I’d encourage all residents with computers, devices and smartphones to take up this opportunity.”
The Council’s recent consultations, particularly on budget cuts like this one, have come in for bitter criticism from the Opposition Labour and Community Party representatives on the Council. One said: “I wonder how many new books will be purchased by the Library Service in the current year? I think the SNP have got their priorities all wrong here.”
Alexandria Public Library in Gilmour Street where a “one stop shop” for questions about council services has been squeezed into the building.