Swanage Library to reduce opening hours on Saturdays

A major reorganisation of libraries by Dorset Council means Swanage library will now only open for three hours on a Saturday, although it will be open for longer during the week.

The new opening hours for Swanage and all libraries across the Dorset Council area including Wareham, will come into effect from Monday 1st July 2024.

Swanage library

Swanage’s much loved and appreciated community library

Long and costly public consultation

This follows a long and costly public consultation process in which Dorset Council said that people asked for libraries to open on Saturdays and afternoons for school age children and young people, as well as Saturdays, lunchtimes and evenings for those who work​.

It is therefore a surprise that Swanage’s opening hours on a Saturday have been reduced from six and a half hours to three and the latest evening opening has been reduced from 6.30 pm to 6 pm.

The earliest that the library will open in future will be 10 am, instead of 9.30 am. The library will now open on a Tuesday instead, while most people are working or at school.

The cutback in hours on a Saturday at Swanage Library mean that it’s no longer practical for staff to run its popular children’s activity programme at weekends.

Swanage library job advert

Following the offer of new employment contracts there are five staff vacancies across Swanage and Wareham libraries

New employment contracts for staff

Alongside the 18 month public consultation, Dorset Council’s library managers conducted a review of staffing which resulted in all library staff being asked to apply for new jobs with new employment contracts.

According to an advert in the foyer of Swanage library, the council is now advertising for five new members of staff to work across Swanage and Wareham libraries.

Swanage library new opening hours

The new opening hours are being advertised in Swanage library’s foyer

“Efficient operating model”

Both Swanage and Wareham have been designated as a Library Plus, meaning that they continue to be open for 30 hours a week.

Dorset Council says that the new “efficient operating model” will result in a reduction of one hour of opening hours across the 23 Dorset Council managed libraries.

Swanage opening hours from 1st July 2024

  • Monday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Tuesday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Wednesday: 12 noon to 6 pm
  • Thursday: Closed
  • Friday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm
  • Sunday: Closed

Swanage current opening hours

  • Monday: 10 am to 6.30 pm
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
  • Thursday: Closed
  • Friday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
  • Saturday: 9.30 am to 4 pm
  • Sunday: Closed

Wareham opening hours from 1st July 2024

  • Monday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Tuesday: 12 noon to 6 pm
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Friday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm
  • Sunday: Closed

Wareham current opening hours

  • Monday: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Tuesday: 2 pm to 6.30 pm
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
  • Friday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
  • Saturday: 9 am to 12.30 pm
  • Sunday: Closed
Swanage Library Lego event

Running activities for children at Swanage library on Saturday’s will no longer be practical when the its only open for three hours

Public consultation results

Dorset Council says its goal in adjusting the hours is to address the priorities from the public consultation:

  • Standard hours so that customers know when a library is open
  • Opening hours throughout the week Monday to Saturday
  • Mornings for pre-school children and their carers, retirees, those who do not work, those who work from home or work remotely from their workplace
  • Saturdays and afternoon opening, for school age children and young people
  • Saturdays, lunchtimes and evenings for those who work​
  • A spread of hours among a geographical group of libraries. This is so that not all libraries in a geographical area close on the same weekdays
  • Times when the library is closed, and partners or community groups can hire it

Swanage’s library is light and airy and a popular place to browse

Loss of experienced staff

While the changes at Swanage library will result in a loss of experienced staff, a curtailment of its children’s activities on a Saturday and an earlier late opening time, Dorset Council’s executive director for corporate services Aidan Dunn claims the new library strategy is “community led and evidence based”.

In a news release statement he said:

“Over the course of 18 months, through our Lets Talk Libraries campaign, we consulted and collaborated with our customers, communities, employees and partners to develop a new library strategy, which was adopted and published in July 2023.

“The strategy outlines the library service’s contribution to Dorset and how we will support individuals and communities to be more connected and improve life chances, with a mission to inspire, connect and enable our communities through our services.

“The development of the strategy was community led and evidence based. Over the course of two phases of public consultation, we built a clear picture of both what our current library users and our non-library users wanted to see from us, now and in the future.

“Our library teams are excited to welcome you during our new opening times.”

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