Croydon Council is set to continue running all 13 of its libraries as a comprehensive in-house service but with shorter opening times in response to residents’ feedback on savings proposals.
The council is partway through the process of updating the library service available to residents across the borough, including building upgrades, better wifi, new computers and wider out-of-hours access, while also proposing much-needed savings.
After a two-stage public consultation, most resident feedback has chosen a savings option for shorter opening times while still keeping all libraries open and run direct by the council.
This feedback will be presented to the 16 August cabinet meeting with a recommendation to make around £500,000 in savings by opening libraries on average two fewer days per week. The council could hire out the buildings for a range of community uses on closed library days.
If cabinet approves the recommended savings proposal to reduce opening hours, the central library would open five days a week, with the other 12 opening up to two days fewer per week depending on their size and visitor numbers. Other options being considered involve bringing in an external partner to run some or all libraries on the council’s behalf.
The final new opening times would be subject to further engagement with library users, with changes due to come into effect from early 2022. For more information on the savings proposals going to cabinet for approval, visit the council website.
The council will be upgrading five library buildings – at Bradmore Green, Shirley, Sanderstead, South Norwood and Broad Green – using ring-fenced Community Infrastructure Levy money. This funding will also allow the council to introduce access to several libraries outside staffed opening hours through Open + swipe cards. Five libraries will have this Open+ facility by 2022, including Selsdon and Norbury.
Croydon has to make savings in its library service as part of a three-year renewal plan to deliver core council services while putting the borough on a sustainable financial footing.
Following stage one of the savings consultation in the spring, the council decided to keep all 13 of its libraries open in response to residents’ feedback on initial options to close some libraries.
“We’ve listened to and acted on Croydon people’s views in this process because we know libraries matter to them.“If cabinet approves reducing opening hours, we will still offer a comprehensive service where we keep all libraries open and run in-house, and make significant investments in the buildings themselves. We will keep residents fully involved and updated before we finalise any changes in early 2022.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture and regeneration