Libraries specifically aimed at Northamptonshire familes are leaving dirty nappies in bins for up to a month.
A report by Healthwatch Northamptonshire that looked at 17 libraries found many were not welcoming to families, despite them performing many services that were formerly carried out by children’s centres.
Among the criticisms were that some libraries still have inadequate baby changing facilities (an issue at seven out of the 17 libraries) or nappy bins.
Others have had issues with nappies being put in regular bins and cleaners refusing to empty them. Inspectors were even told of a nappy being found wedged behind a radiator a couple of weeks later.
One library staff member told Healthwatch that “the nappy bin is not emptied frequently enough and it does get a bit smelly in there.”
Even where some libraries have nappy bins, Healthwatch said, they are sometimes only being emptied monthly, which both parents and staff said is not frequent enough.
The watchdog’s report said: “It is unacceptable to be told to take nappies home if children and their parents/carers are to be made to feel welcome.
Other issues with toilets are that in many libraries they are often in storerooms and staff rooms so not easily accessible,
Healthwatch Inspectors witnessed an elderly man with an eight-year-old granddaughter ask to use the toilet in one library and was refused.
The report said: “If libraries want to be a ‘drop-in community hub to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing’ these types of issues will need to be reviewed and addressed.”
Healthwatch said that, since it carried out its report in the summer, it had been given an updated version of the capital works programme for libraries.
However, the watchdog said it does not address all the issues raised to make libraries a more suitable venue for families with small children.
Northamptonshire County Council declined to comment.