Library future more secure thanks to volunteers and technology

October 04 2016

THE future of threatened Chipping Sodbury library looks more positive, with volunteers set to be involved in running the service.

chipping sodbury library

THE future of threatened Chipping Sodbury library looks more positive, with volunteers set to be involved in running the service.
Fears were high that the library would be closed as part of a programme of cuts.
But it is now hoped that support from a friends group will save it.
However, South Gloucestershire Council said it had to ensure there was enough commitment from the group in order to justify it continuing to meet running costs and bringing in new Open Plus technology that allows libraries to stay open even when unstaffed.
Using the Open Plus system, people can use their library cards to swipe themselves into libraries, giving them access to books, IT services and wi-fi printing.
Other parts of the country already use it and although South Gloucestershire wants to introduce the system widely, it plans to run a pilot scheme first at Bradley Stoke.
If successful, it will then be at the heart of updated proposals for the library service throughout the district.
The council has to make further cuts of £22 million by 2019-20 and the library service must contribute to the savings.
Initially its portion was £650,000 but that has now been cut to £500,000.
It will cost up to £400,000 to introduce Open Plus but it will give access to libraries for 11 hours a day, seven days a week. The council said its library staff could then be used when most needed.
Councillor Heather Goddard, chairwoman of the council’s environment and community services committee, said: “While we have to make savings, we want to ensure that these facilities remain at the heart of our communities.
“Access to libraries out of staffed hours is not about replacing staff, it is about providing a service in addition to their expertise.
“This innovative new policy allows us to save half a million pounds a year on our operating costs while more than doubling the opening hours of libraries.”
Despite Chipping Sodbury library’s rosier future, the costly mobile library is still due to be axed, although people in some rural areas served by it have offered to run mini community libraries.
The council will now consult for a further three months on its plans, with a final decision to be made in the new year.