Serve yourself library could see redundancies
NEW ‘smart’ technology, which is set to roll out to 15 libraries across the county, including Loughborough and Shepshed, is to lead to a reduction in staff roles.
The equipment, known as ‘selfaccess technology’, will allow people, who have registered to take part, to use their library card to access buildings in order to borrow, return and renew items and use library facilities.
Leicestershire County Council says, if given the go ahead, the move will save £230,000 and “a significant amount of the saving would come from a reduction in roles”.
A county council spokesperson told the Echo 54 full-time staff work at the libraries it runs in Ashby, Blaby, Birstall, Broughton Astley, Coalville, Earl Shilton, Glenfield, Hinckley, Loughborough, Lutterworth, Melton, Oadby, Shepshed, Syston and Wigston.
When asked how many roles will be affected, the spokesperson said: “Details won’t be clear until we’ve consulted and determined the opening arrangements for each library.”
The plans are part of wider proposals to save £1.3 million by 2020/21.
The idea to roll out self-access technology comes following a trial at Syston library.
Leicestershire County Councillor Coun Richard Blunt, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Self-access technology makes it more convenient for people who work during the day or on shifts, plus parents who want to take their children to the library on the way to school.
“During the four-month trial in Syston, opening hours increased by 30 hours a week and a number of people enquired about using the venue for community activities.
“We have a good track record in delivering libraries differently.
“Despite the financial pressures, the roll-out enables us to extend the benefits seen in Syston to thousands of residents.
“Budget pressures are ramping up, leaving us with tough choices. But we have a clear strategy in place, and are committed to exploring innovative ideas.”
Other cost-cutting proposals include bringing together archive and museum collections into one hub and reviewing the green plaques scheme and mobile library service.
The county council is also considering if Century Theatre at Snibston, Coalville, “could be run by the community”.
The report was discussed by the county council’s adults and communities scrutiny committee yesterday (Tuesday, September 12), and is to go before cabinet on Friday (September 15).
• It will be streamed live at: www. leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast
Loughborough Library, in Granby Street, Loughborough.