A consultation on proposed reduced opening hours at libraries across East Sussex begins on Monday, January 11, and will run for 12 weeks.
As previously reported on Uckfield News hours at Uckfield public library could be cut by a quarter from next autumn. The changes would target the hours least used by borrowers.
The aim is to reduce library running costs by around £500,000 helping towards the library service’s savings target of £2 million over the next three years.
East Sussex County Council’s lead member for community services, Cllr Chris Dowling – who represents Framfield and Horam ward – said: “We are having to make some really tough decisions to make an unprecedented level of savings over the next three years and are having to look at the way in which every council service is delivered.”
Cllr Dowling added: “A great deal of consideration has been given to how people are using the libraries across East Sussex.”
He said. “Usage of library buildings after 5pm is very low and therefore, reducing opening hours at quieter times has been the focus of our proposals. However, closing libraries at quieter times alone will not achieve the savings we need to make.
“With the further changes to opening hours we are proposing in this consultation, we believe we can make the required savings and continue to provide a comprehensive library service across the county.”
The proposal is that all libraries in East Sussex will generally not open before 10am or after 5pm. However, libraries that currently open later than 5.30pm would retain one evening opening until 6pm, while those that open on a Saturday will continue to do so.
“These are very much draft proposals and, while we have worked hard to get the right proposals for each library, we would like to hear if local communities feel that alternative patterns of opening would better suit local needs. We would also welcome alternative proposals that would help us achieve the savings we need to make.”
No changes will be made to the e-library service, which allows members to access e-books and e-audiobooks and a range of free online reference material 24 hours a day. Members and non-members will still be able to make enquiries online or by phone 24 hours a day.
The proposals are part of a wider transformation programme for the county’s libraries, which Cabinet approved in December. They will make sure that the council can respond to the changing need for library services and ensure East Sussex has a modern and sustainable library service into the future.
The consultation opens on Monday and to comment on the proposals, residents can visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/