Hastings residents will soon see a cut to the services their local library provides. East Sussex County Council has approved the Libraries Transformation Programme, which includes reducing opening hours to save £2 million.
The council hopes to save up to £90 million over the next three years, by cutting a number of services including local libraries. Over the past five years there has been an 11 per cent drop in visitors to libraries but an 87 per cent increase in e-libraries, suggesting a loss of interest in the service.
The news comes after University of Brighton students campaigned for longer opening hours at the Hastings campus. Demonstrating that maybe while the publics need for the library has reduced the demand for students is still high.
University of Brighton’s Information Services Manager, Sarah Friend, has said: “I think it is a mistake to cut the opening hours to public libraries. The libraries are not only there to borrow books, they are a central resource for local people who need access to computers and the Internet. This is particularly important in areas like Hastings where people don’t have access to these things at home”.
She added: “Another issue has been the reduction and in some cases removal of mobile libraries. They were a great way to encourage families to visit libraries and encourage children to read”.
Godfrey Daniel, Labour County Councillor for Hastings criticises the plans: “I don’t support cutting opening hours of libraries, but I understand that it is probably necessary due to the Conservative Government’s savage cuts on local authorities.”
He added: “I think there should be one late, perhaps till 8pm, closing on a Thursday evening at the major libraries. In Hastings, this would contribute to efforts to enhance the evening economy.”
If the proposal goes ahead, Hastings library will be closed for another six and a half hours a week.
Tim Fletcher, Press Officer for East Sussex County Council, explained: “One thing we’d like to stress is that these are just proposals at the moment and no decision has been made yet. We’re asking people to give us their views.”
A public consultation, starting this week, will continue until April. A final decision over whether the scheme is feasible will be made this summer.