Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Central Bedfordshire Library opening hours to change

2 August 2017

We will increase overall opening hours across all of our 12 libraries and include a Saturday afternoon service after consulting with customers and listening to their feedback.

Last year, we consulted on a proposal to reduce opening by a total of 30 hours per week in order to meet an £85,000 efficiency target, identified in our Medium Term Financial Plan.

This savings target has now been reduced to £56,000 and so, after also taking into account residents’ views, we have realigned opening hours across the board so that eight of Central Bedfordshire’s libraries will now see either an increase in opening times or no reduction at all.

However, there will be a reduction in opening hours for four libraries to bring them in line with the rest of the estate.

From 1 October 2017, libraries in Central Bedfordshire will be placed into three categories:

Community Libraries: Ampthill, Barton, Potton, Stotfold and Toddington

Area Libraries: Biggleswade, Flitwick, Houghton Regis, Sandy and Shefford

Main Libraries: Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard

This means that:

  • community libraries (except Ampthill) will be open for the same or longer hours than they are now. In total, these libraries will operate for 17 hours more than at present
  • area libraries (except Houghton Regis) will all open for the same or longer hours than they are now. In total, these libraries will operate for 13 hours more than at present
  • all libraries will open on Saturday afternoons, whereas only four of the 12 libraries are currently open Saturday afternoons
  • community libraries will open on both afternoons and mornings during the week. This is a change from the original proposal, which did not include morning opening
  • all libraries will close on Mondays
  • main libraries (Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard) will lose 5 hours a week as per the original consultation proposal (from 48 hours per week to 43)

The changes will also mean that each category of library will have uniform opening hours, which will include being closed on Mondays, so we can better manage its resources with a professionally run service. The new opening hours (from 1 October) will be:

Community Libraries (Ampthill, Barton, Potton, Stotfold and Toddington)

Libraries will be open 27 hours a week which is an overall increase of 17 hours per week)

Tuesday: 9am-1pm
Wednesday: 2pm – 6pm
Thursday: 9am – 1pm
Friday: 9am-1pm and 2pm – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm

Area Libraries (Biggleswade, Flitwick, Houghton Regis, Sandy, Shefford libraries will be open for 43 hours per week, which is an overall increase of 13 hours per week)

Tuesday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm

Main Libraries (Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard will be open for 43 hours per week, which is an overall decrease of 10 hours per week)

Tuesday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm

There is also an opportunity to greatly enhance the offer in Dunstable once the library moves from its current home in Vernon Place into the brand new, state-of-the-art £20.1 million leisure and community hub currently being built on the site of the old leisure centre, due for completion in winter 2018/19.

We are considering longer opening hours for the relocated new library in Dunstable because it will be hosted in a building that is open seven days a week. For now, Dunstable Library is still open as usual at Vernon Place.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, 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.”

Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge and how to take part

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