Croydon’s 13 libraries will launch a new timetable next month, with all buildings to remain open and council-owned, following resident feedback from two rounds of public consultation held last year.
The new timetable takes into account the way residents currently use libraries and ensures that at least one library in the north, south and central parts of the borough is open and staff available each day (Monday to Saturday).
Most libraries will be open two fewer days per week, except Central Library which will be open five days per week. This is in line with the public consultation, where the majority of respondents supported a council-run service with a 21% reduction in opening hours across libraries, rather than outsourcing or a mixture of a council-run / community-run approach.
The new timetable can be viewed here – library users are recommended to check for any changes to days and times of regular events.
Once the new timetable has been in place a few months, library staff will be speaking to the local community to get feedback on how the new opening hours are working, and if needed, times can be reviewed to ensure they are meeting local needs as much as possible.
The council is also progressing with Open+ which will see residents able to access libraries out-of-hours. This will be available initially at two libraries (Selsdon and Norbury), and in time at three additional Croydon libraries, providing extended opening hours through registered library membership cards.
Feedback from residents during the consultations showed strong interest from the community in being involved with their local libraries, not only in terms of volunteering, but also for venue hire, building upkeep and opportunities for activities for groups and local families. This feedback has led to a number of successful partnerships across most libraries, making better use of the buildings.
Coulsdon C of E Primary School, neighbouring school to Bradmore Green Library, is now benefitting from regular use of the library as an additional learning space and is using the building for future activities for local families.
Part of Central Library became a workplace for over 100 refugees and people experiencing homelessness and barriers to employment during the end of last year, when an unused floor in the building was used by local company Ethstat Ethical Stationery CIC to put together over 28,000 hampers for businesses.
The review of Croydon’s library service is part of the council’s three-year renewal plan to deliver core council services while putting the borough on a sustainable financial footing.
“Libraries mean so much to our community and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to keep all 13 of our libraries open. We’ve progressed the option most supported by residents, when we asked them last year, to keep the libraries in-house and open fewer hours. The new timetable has been developed to provide the best service within the hours available making sure residents never have to travel far to enjoy their local library.
“It’s also great how people are embracing the opportunity to make the most of our library buildings, ensuring that they are true hubs at the heart of our communities. I encourage anyone interested in getting involved with their local library to contact the service.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture and regeneration