Posted by: bluesyemre | June 8, 2017

How to get more users to the #library (Interview with #LisaRoberts head of culture and leisure Peterborough Libraries UK)


1. What were the reasons to implement this new concept and add more open hours to the library?

In response to financial challenges, the need to save money while at the same time improve services to the public, the council rolled out the UK’s first open model of libraries. In essence, this reduced the cost of the library service by over 20% and provided a 50 % increase in availability of the service.

2. Can you tell us more about the project and how it was implemented?

Peterborough is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. The library network comprises 10 libraries and a mobile service across the city and rural areas. Peterborough’s residents truly value their local libraries: aside from borrowing items, they also use them as a community meeting place, for learning, education, computer and internet access, and to participate in group activities.  To date, Open+ is operational in all of the city’s library sites.

Following significant expenditure cuts, a review of the library service began in 2014, which led to a public consultation to understand how residents use or would like to use libraries. The way in which patrons use the library is changing; 90% of book loans are now completed through self-service kiosks, and staff now focus their time supporting people with more specific enquiries. The public consultation revealed that the most valued aspects of libraries are the ability to borrow books, access to information and location. In addition, when asked ‘What would make you use your library more?” 75% of respondents stated that access outside of normal opening hours was important.

Libraries affect every member of the community.  Models were developed from the consultation with the view of a changing service with different customer needs and requirements. After considering more extreme alternatives, such as closing half of the libraries, which would have resulted in leaving local library users at a disadvantage, it was discounted in favour of Open Library concept. This option allowed all branches to remain open through a combination of staffed and extended self-service hours, including new Saturday opening hours, whilst still operating within budget constraints, the model also responded to the public consultation, by giving the public everything they asked for.

3. What are the benefits of this solution?

With Open+, libraries can decide the days and hours they open for their communities to supplement access outside of the times when staff and volunteers are present. The technology is really easy to use, it’s an extension of the libraries current RFID system, and it links with the doors, alarms, lights automating the building via verification through the library management system. With so many of our patrons already accustomed to using self-service, accessing the library by simply scanning their library card and entering their usual pin number at the external access control panel was easy enough for them to adapt to straight away.

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