CHANGES to staffed opening hours across libraries in Hampshire will be put in place “gradually” over the next three months, the county council has revealed.

This comes after Hampshire County Council carried out a consultation on staffed opening times following its decision on plans to transform the library service and to achieve savings of £1.76 million. These plans include staffed hours of 40 libraries being reduced by an average of 20 per cent; increasing available support for libraries to transition to independent community libraries; and the closure of eight libraries.

The council’s executive member for recreation and heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with us – our aim is to provide the best possible Library Service within our means and so it’s really important we understand how we can meet the needs of all Hampshire residents. This is why our proposals for new staffed opening times have differed slightly for each library, to ensure that each branch is open at the most appropriate times for its local community; and indeed, why we have changed some proposals at certain libraries following feedback that local people wanted more library access for their children at after-school times.”

Of the 4,446 responses received from 3,091 respondents (some customers responded on behalf of more than one library), 35 per cent said they were content with the new opening times while 37 per cent said that while the new opening times would not be their preference, they would meet their needs. Of the total responses, 28 per cent indicated that the new opening hours would not meet their needs.

Councillor Woodward added: “The changes to hours will be largely completed by January 2021, and each library will be updating customers through their normal branch communication channels as these are put in place. Customers will be aware that temporary hours have already been in place across our libraries as part of our response to Covid-19, and I am pleased to say most of our libraries have now redistributed their current hours to allow for them to be open on Saturdays, making it easier for families whose children have returned to school to access their local library during the weekend.”

To find out more about the Hampshire Library Service and individual branch openings times, visit