Libraries look to Sunday opening to lift visitor numbers

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People are being invited to have their say on plans to open the county’s libraries on Sundays.

Northamptonshire County Council has already decided that library opening times should change but is asking what people think of provisional timetables.

The council hopes the changes will make libraries accessible to a more diverse range of people and help boost visitor numbers.

Heather Cross, chairman of the Friends of Irchester Library group, which successfully campaigned against plans to close its library last year, thinks the move could be bad news for villages and smaller towns.

She said: “We’ve been told that on Sundays families will come to the library with their children – that might be true in bigger towns like Corby but not in places like Irchester.

“We’re worried that people won’t use the library on Sundays and that will give the council ammunition to say it should be closed.

“I’m sure some of the libraries in the county will be delighted with the new timetables but we’re not.”

Although the total number of opening hours countywide remains the same under the new proposals, 12 libraries in the north of the county will have reduced hours, while six will gain hours or stay the same.

The decision comes after a successful trial period at Corby Library, which has offered Sunday sessions since opening in November 2010.

Anne Lovely, principal librarian for the north of the county, said: “We’ve had lots of different types of people coming into Corby Library on Sundays, especially younger people.

“The library is warm and welcoming and there are things to do so we get a lot of teenagers here hanging out with their friends – we’ve tried to organise some activities especially for them.

“We also get more families coming in together – you get a slightly different group of people who are able to come in on a Sunday because more people have free time.

“In Corby, parents can take their children to McDonald’s or swimming or now to the library.

“This is something we’ve looked at within other library services around the country and, when one has started opening on Sundays, they’ve never gone back.

“We don’t have a budget to extend opening hours so we will have to reduce some hours in the week, but we think it’s worth it.”

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Detailed provisional timetables for each of the county’s libraries can also be found on the same website.