We’ve kept all 14 libraries open
Barnet’s Conservative Council was determined not to follow the example of authorities like Labour-run Brent, which closed half its libraries in the face of budget pressures. So we pledged to keep every one of the borough’s 14 libraries open, and delivered this by investing in new technology and changing the way the library service works. Core and Core Plus libraries now include unstaffed self-service hours, during which library users gain access with an electronic key card. Core Plus libraries have more staffed hours. Staffed and unstaffed opening hours can be found here. Others (East Barnet, South Friern, Mill Hill and Childs Hill) are run by volunteer partnership organisations.
Everyone can gain access
Anyone can register for access to the self-service system. Simply visit a library during staffed hours and fill out a registration form to receive a keycard. As of January 2018, 21,156 people have signed up for the service since it was introduced in April 2017. This represents 60% of active borrowers (those who have borrowed at least once in the last 12 months) so far.
That includes children
All children under 15 can access libraries during self-service hours provided they are accompanied by an adult. This is for security reasons, in order to protect the safety of the child, and was Council policy even before unstaffed hours were introduced. Children aged 15 in Year 11 can register for a keycard with a signature from a parent and stamp from their school, while those aged 16 and 17 can register with a signature from a parent.
The changes are saving taxpayers money
There are many wild claims circulating about how much the changes to the library service have cost, with some alleging the Council is “spending £14 million to save £2.2 million”. This makes no sense and is of course untrue. The changes to the library service in fact cost about £7 million, which included repair and maintenance work to all 14 libraries, and installing the self-service technology and CCTV. The money this investment will save will increase each year until it ‘plateaus’ at £2.2 million per year from 2020. At this point the redevelopment of the service will have paid for itself within three years.