SYSTON LIBRARY SELF-ACCESS (LIBRARY PLUS) SURVEY
1. Pilot Study of Library Plus
• In March 2017, County Council implemented a Pilot of SMART Library Technology, called Library Plus, at Syston Library for 3 months.
• Outside normal staffed hours, users gain access by swipe card and they can borrow, return and renew items; use public computers and wi-fi; and use printing and photocopying facilities.
• Under-16s only have access accompanied by a responsible adult
• Scheme gives 30 additional opening hours pw
• Survey carried out 8 May – 23 June (6 weeks)
• Induction programme to register for Library +
“If the pilot is successful, consideration will be given to rolling out the scheme to other suitable libraries” – the plan.
• Responses from 46 library users out of a total of 1,579 library members aged over 16 in Syston; sample size (about 3%) is too small to give statistically significant results
• Majority over 45 and white
• 65% women
• 55% retired from work
• Over half used the library at least 1x fortnight, mostly to borrow books, access information or to use computers.
Despite a very small sample, policy will be based on responses
3. Advantages/What People found Positive about Library +
• On most questions, more than half were in favour of Library +
• More standardised opening hours, in line with shop hours – easier to fit in
• More convenient and open longer
• Provided greater flexibility of access
• A few preferred the quiet atmosphere [would that continue in an expanded scheme?]
• Increased access
• Promotes library use – by adults [but possibly not by under-16s who must be accompanied by a responsible adult.]
4. Disadvantages and Concerns
• Some missed friendly staff and preferred to use library when staff present
• Lack of staff to provide help with photocopying & printing and other difficulties
• Concerns about – security
• - issues with equipment not working
• - temperature
• - being alone in the library
• Other people outside wanting access
• Misuse of car park
• Risk of damage to equipment and vandalism
• Concern about loss of staff jobs and opposed to reduction in staff hours/support a staffed library
• Impact on staff workload during 3 hours they are present
• Potential for theft
• Computers locked out to a user who has not logged off correctly and has left. Staff needed to unlock PC.
• Photo-copier and printer running out of paper/getting jammed
• Access for children and under-16s to do homework – they must have an adult with them which could be difficult for busy parents
• Safety issues – in the event of a power cut, how would users get out of the building?
5. County Council Proposal
• Based on the pilot and very small sample who completed the survey
• To introduce Library + across the library network: staffed opening hours will be reduced to save money and to increase opening times
• Eg. A library like Wigston: open Mon – Sat 8 – 8, with 3 - 4 hours staffed time most days (probably 22 hours pw).
• The Plan is: “If the pilot is successful, consideration will be given to rolling out the scheme to other suitable libraries.”
Wigston Civic Society concluded that there are advantages for some users, but disadvantages for staff and library users, and potentially some risks. Overall, the proposal would be detrimental to the library service, which has already experienced severe cuts.