Library opening hours across Thanet, and Kent, are likely to be cut as part of a Kent County Council three year plan.
The proposal aims to save the authority £1million over the next two years. In 2017-18, KCC spent £15,993,000 on running Libraries, Registration and Archives services. LRA services brought in an income of £6,300,000; the majority of this comes from registration services leaving a cost of £9,623,000.
The vast majority of spend – £11,328,000- is on staffing. The proposals to reduce hours will also mean staff cuts through redundancy, non-filling of vacant posts and/or early retirement.
The Thanet library facing the greatest reduction in hours is Newington, which is set to go from being open 40 hours per week to just 15 hours.
Margate reduces from 55 hours to 42; Birchington from 40 to 37; Broadstairs from 55 to 37; Ramsgate from 53 to 37; Cliftonville from 40 to 28; Westgate from 38 to 28 and Minster from 33 to 23.
The new opening hour proposals were reached by looking at the number of visits, loans, computer use, unique visitors, event visitors and building size.
It is proposed that all libraries will be open on Saturdays.
Specialist services such as the mobile library, home library delivery, audio books by post, and residential home services will be brought together under one brand of Library Direct.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “We know that our library service is highly-valued by the public, but it is not immune from the financial pressures on all county council services.
“We have been working on a three-year strategy which is intended to protect the future of all our libraries and our archive and registration offers and, in fact, enhance some of these services.
“Being open at times when libraries are not well used is not a good use of taxpayers’ money.”
A consultation is now open on the proposals and runs until January 29.
Following the end of the consultation a full analysis and report will be completed and be presented to the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee on March 7 before a decision is taken by the Cabinet Member for Communities and Regulatory Services.
KCC says Kent residents will then have the opportunity to shape the pattern of opening hours at their local library to suit their communities.
Drop in sessions
Drop in events are being held at libraries across the county, including two in Thanet.
Thanet Gateway Plus, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1RE
Wednesday 23 January 9:30-12:30
Guildford Lawn, Ramsgate, CT11 9AY
Wednesday 23 January14:00-17:00
Find the consultation online here