TAMESIDE Council is rewriting the book when it comes to library opening hours. Over the next few months it will be unveiling Open+ - a change that will result in much greater access to libraries.
Open+ is a self-service function that increases the hours people can use the borough’s libraries. It has been designed after taking into account the hundreds of responses to the recent consultation process, and will affect all the borough’s libraries except for Tameside Central Library in Ashton.
Cllr Ged Cooney, executive member for healthy and working, explained: “Open+ allows us to meet the needs of our residents while saving money. It also secures all our libraries - which was the chief demand in the consultation.
“Open+ will make our libraries cheaper to run, and the money saved can be spent on vital services such as social care. We are using technology to create a service fit to meet people’s demands in the 21st century.”
The Open+ project means that weekly library opening hours will almost double, increasing from 276 to 495. This will give people greater choice in how and when they use the library service – they may prefer to visit during hours when staff are available or during the self-serve open+ hours for greater flexibility.
During Open+ hours, members who have completed an induction course will be able to gain access by using a card-swipe system that has been successfully and safely utilised by other authorities.
Security will be maintained through CCTV monitoring and an emergency phone and in the interests of our young people’s safety there will be no unaccompanied under 16s during open+ hours.
Cllr Cooney added: “Longer opening times will make our libraries more inclusive as people who work unsocial hours will be able to use them more easily. There will be lots more time to get online, which will help with job hunting and accessing online services such as booking GP appointments.
“Our plans for an extended and improved library service have carefully considered staff numbers and will ensure that any member of staff wishing to stay at the council will be able to do so.”