Central Bedfordshire libraries to get longer opening hours
Libraries in Biggleswade, Sandy, Potton, Stotfold and Shefford will have longer overall opening hours from the start of October.
Central Bedfordshire Council has announced the new hours, including a Saturday afternoon service, after consultation with users.
The authority had last year consulted on a proposal to reduce opening by a total of 30 hours per week to meet an £85,000 efficiency target, identified in their Medium Term Financial Plan.
That savings target has been reduced to £56,000 – so the libraries in Biggleswade, Sandy and Shefford will now open for an extra 13 hours per week, with Potton and Stotfold libraries opening for an additional 17 hours.
Councillor Ian Dalgarno, the council’s executive member for community services, said: “Culture and the arts are one of the ways we can make Central Bedfordshire a great place to live and work and I’m pleased to say that our library service is one area where we are doing just that.
“While we have to work with reduced funding, we are not only bucking the national trend by ensuring all of our libraries remain open – but our customer satisfaction rate is up from 93 per cent to 97 per cent, while footfall was 833,071 last year.
“With such great affection for our library service, it was vitally important that we asked our residents how we could continue to serve them to the high standards they have come to expect, despite the need to make savings.
“We’ve listened to that feedback and amended our plans based on their responses, such as opening all libraries on Saturdays, which will mean more people will be able to use our service.
“This can only help strengthen our library offer overall which, aside from the traditional borrowing of books, has seen a year-on-year increase in attendance – from 58,000 in 2015 to 65,000 last year – for events and sessions such as the Summer Reading Challenge, which is now in full swing in all 12 libraries, enabling our children to maintain, improve and enjoy this crucial life skill during the school holidays.”
Central Bedfordshire libraries will be placed into three categories from October 1 – main, area and community libraries.
Biggleswade, Sandy and Shefford will be classed as area libraries – open 43 hours per week – with Potton and Stotfold designated as community libraries, which will open for 27 hours per week.
Opening hours at Biggleswade, Sandy and Shefford will be 9am to 6pm from Tuesday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays.
At Potton and Stotfold, the opening hours will be 9am to 1pm on Tuesday and Thursday, 2pm to 6pm on Wednesday, 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm on Friday, and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.
Opening hours at four of the 12 libraries in the Central Bedfordshire district – Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill and Houghton Regis – will be reduced.
For more about the Summer Reading Challenge and how to take part, see here.
To find out more about what’s on at your local library, see here.