Proposals going to council bosses for rubber-stamping at a meeting next Wednesday (15th October) say that 13% of library opening hours are to be cut citywide (I make it 12% – see below).
The council says the cuts have been targeted at times when demand is at its lowest, and that over 98 per cent of users will be unaffected.
It says the alternative – such as axing more libraries (13 got the chop in 2011), stopping the mobile library service or not buying new books – would have a greater impact on local communities.
The £300,000 savings will be made through reduced staff costs.
A report drafted for the meeting says that the original proposals on where opening hours would be cut library-by-library have been modified in light of a public consultation this summer in which over 7,200 people took part.
In the consultation, users were asked which of two options for reducing hours at their local library they favoured. There wasn’t a “neither of the above” option.
Little surprise then that only 4.6 per cent of those who responded “indicated that they had a preference for neither of the options presented which suggests that they felt there should be no reduction to library opening hours”.
Consultations, eh? Dontcha just love ’em.
West Leeds – where there was a vocal campaign against any reduction in opening hours spearheaded by local MP Rachel Reeves – has come out of the process pretty much unscathed.
It’s been decided since the consultation that the library in Armley is one of three of the city’s 36 that are going to be exempt from the cuts, because they’re participating in a pilot of a new council plan to develop “community hubs”.
And Bramley – which was facing closure all day Thursday – could end up with no cuts too after a local group proposed holding a “schools and community day” at the library.
Ms Reeves is pleased.
Mystery still surrounds the fate of the city’s least used library, in Methley, which, for some reason, wasn’t part of the consultation. Latest figures show it was only getting 80 visitors a week last year.
“In the short term the opening hours will remain as current. Planning with the councillors for the longer term future of Methley library is ongoing,” the report says rather ominously.
Below is the final list of how many hours your library is going to be cut. If you want to know the detail of the changes (what days, times are affected), they’re half way down the page here.