West Lothian library hours to change

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Operating hours at West Lothian libraries will reduce from April 2020 to save money, however all libraries shall remain open.

The council has approved budget reductions across a range of services which will help the council deliver a balanced budget to meet its legal obligations. Over £31 million of saving measures have already been identified for the next three years, including savings in libraries, in addition to the £121m of savings that have already been delivered since 2007

The changes to opening hours at libraries will save the council £50,000 by reducing staffing levels, and the council has sought feedback from library users.

The changes include a reduction in opening hours overall and more reliance on customer self-service. Self-service checkouts already account for 67 per cent of library transactions.

Under the new arrangements, some libraries will only provide self-service on particular days with no dedicated library staff available. Some libraries will also open later in the morning as data highlights that some libraries are not well used early in the morning.

Details on the changes will be available online and within individual libraries.

Ralph Bell, the council’s customer and community service manager said: “We have looked at all the usage data which has allowed us to identify customer demand. Many libraries are not well used early in the morning. The new hours are therefore designed around how our customers use services.

“The council is trying to ensure that facilities remain open and accessible whilst also ensuring that we deliver the required savings.”

Executive councillor for culture and leisure, Dave King added: “We don’t want to have to reduce local services but the funding we receive has not been sufficient to cover the costs of providing essential services for our growing population of younger and older people, creating a substantial budget gap. This means we have no choice but to look at ways for creating efficiencies, reducing costs and changing services. Ultimately the council has a legal obligation to balance our budget and changes to important services are necessary.”