Library visitors fall after hours are cut
VISITORS to Up Hatherley Library have dropped by more than 20 per cent since it cut its opening hours last month.
On September 3 new opening hours came into force reducing opening hours from 47 to 35 a week.
The move has led to a decrease in those using the Hulbert Crescent facility.
Some 12,220 visits were made to Up Hatherley Library in September 2011, in comparison to 9,581 in the same month this year.
Cheltenham Borough Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), pictured, said the figures seemed disappointing.
He said: "I have not heard any complaints from the community, but clearly the opening hours reducing by seven hours was going to have an impact. But a 20 per cent reduction does sound like a lot and is disappointing.
"Clearly it is only one month's figures and perhaps too early to draw conclusions at the moment, but it is something worth looking at again in six months time." However Gloucestershire County Council has defended the fall in visitors.
Sue Laurence, library services manager, said: "It is still early days and, as we would expect, customers are still getting used to the new opening hours.
"However, in the last few weeks, people have started to adapt to visiting the library at different times.
"Also, an increasing number of customers are now using our virtual library and this will have had an impact.
"Since we introduced the virtual library in April this year, 3,391 customers have already registered for e-Books and they have downloaded 8,226 titles.
"We expect even more customers to access their books this way in future."
The move to slash opening hours of libraries across the county was controversial in Gloucestershire.
The library in Up Hatherley was initially going see opening times cut down to 28 hours.
Many councillors and members of the community saw the reductions put in place last month as a reprieve.
The library now opens on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9.30am to 5.30pm with an hour break for lunch.
On Thursday it is open from 9.30am to 7pm with an hour for lunch. On Friday it is open from 1pm until 7pm and Saturday the hours are 9.30am to 4pm.