Chief Librarian's message 6th February


Chief Librarian's Message - Cuts to Libraries

N.B: The addition of *bold* text was added by Shirley, to assist understanding.

Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2013 13:49:35 +0000
Subject: RE: Libraries | Cabinet - 6th February


Apologies for the delay in replying but I was not at work due to illness. There will be a response to your cabinet question tonight and this email responds to your question about implications for libraries.

The proposed reduction in staffed opening hours across all the libraries is 132 hours ( 26%). Some libraries would be affected more than others.   The proposal sees the introduction of bands for libraries, following the principles set out in the library strategy.

We are taking this opportunity to regularise the hours in the bands of libraries and wish to ensure that the staffed hours that libraries open take into account when the libraries are busiest in terms of loans, computer use and people using the library. To enable us to do this we will be analysing the data, proposing some options for each library and consulting with local communities on those options.

The number of staffed opening hours offered in Swindon libraries has evolved over a long period of time and the introduction of more staffed hours has not resulted in more usage in terms of loans. This is the case at Highworth, North, West Swindon, Covingham Liden and to a lesser degree at Pinetrees libraries.

Budget savings have to be made in all areas of the Council and the saving required in the Library service is impossible to achieve without affecting library hours as we have already reduced costs in management, stock and outreach teams and have reduced the budget for library stock.

In relation to the expected effect on individual libraries:

The smaller libraries are: Covingham, Penhill, Pinetrees, Liden, Old Town, Even Swindon, and Walcot.

There will be a reduction in staffed hours at all these libraries , apart from Walcot and Even Swindon as they currently have 10 staffed hours. 10 hours per week will enable us to offer the community a service that is designed to be delivered at the busiest times. As Old Town and Walcot demonstrate, libraries can open without staff at other times, if solutions can be found, extending access to those sites. Old Town and Walcot will not reduce their overall opening hours...

The medium libraries are: Moredon and Rodbourne Cheney, Upper Stratton, Park and Wroughton.

There will be a reduction in staffed hours at all these libraries. Library staffed opening hours of 30 will enable us to offer a library service across more days. These libraries are close to some of the smaller libraries and their hours will add to the total available staffed library hours in some areas.

The larger libraries are: Highworth, West Swindon and North Swindon.

There will be a reduction in staffed hours at all these libraries. Library staffed opening hours has recently been increased at these libraries by spreading the number of staff across opening hours but has not increased the number of loans. 45 hours of staffed opening will allow for some evening and some extended weekend hours, that allow people shopping or pursuing leisure activities in those areas to access the library service.

Central Library

There will be a reduction in staffed hours at the Central library. Central Library offers a service to everyone in Swindon, with a local collection , information service and hosts regular events and activities. Library staffed opening of 55 hours will see a reduction that we hope to mitigate by keeping the same number of unstaffed express zone hours. However the express zone hours do not offer the full range of services.

Further savings may be necessary in 2014/ 2015 and as yet we do not know the impact the required savings the Council is required to make will have on the library service.

The library service is however working on savings proposals that won’t affect frontline services eg. Stock acquisition processes and partnership work with other authorities. However, these will only generate small scale savings and other areas for savings may have to be considered.

Clearly, it would not be our choice to put forward proposed savings in libraries or for any other services the Council currently offers, but the size of the savings we have to find for next year and beyond means that unfortunately some difficult decisions will be required.

Kind regards

Allyson Jordan (
Service Manager – Arts and Libraries
Swindon Borough Council