AS part of ONFife Libraries’ long-term vision to build a vibrant and sustainable future the Cultural Trust has announced a number of developments to the service which will effect four local facilities.

As from Tuesday May 7, the opening hours of the 29 facilities, managed by ONFife * are changing. The changes are designed to increase engagement and have been based on comprehensive research detailed:

• A large survey of over 2,000 Fifers

• A detailed analysis of footfall at each library throughout Fife

• Evolution of the busy events and activities programme

• An extensive period of consultation with all of the 150 library staff.

Four local libraries will be affected, Benarty, Cardenden, Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly. Kelty Library is not operated by OnFife.

The common demand, that emerged for every library, no matter what the scale, is for Saturday openings, at least one evening opening and for all libraries to be open for at least one hour across lunchtime. The lunchtime opening applies to all libraries, even the smaller venues which may have only one member of staff on duty.

From May 7 onwards, Saturday openings will be implemented across the whole of ONFife’s Library Service. Where venues already had Saturday openings, many of them will see their hours extended.

Evening openings have always been a feature at most ONFife Libraries. However, from May, the late opening has, in general, moved from a Monday to a Thursday and the hours have been adjusted according to footfall.

Meeting customer demands in this way has been accommodated by reducing opening times during quieter times. For instance, morning opening times have generally moved from 9.30am to 10am.

The change in opening hours is part of ONFife’s longer journey to sustain and expand the role of libraries as creative and learning hubs at the heart of communities. During recent years the Cultural Trust has addressed the downward trend of library lending by driving visitor numbers with a raft of events such as Code Clubs (pictured above), Bookbug storytelling and Walk ON groups including dementia-friendly events.

During spring and summer 2019 a programme of new events will be piloted to attract visitors to the libraries. Plans are also underway to pilot an enterprise hub in Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. The Mobile Library Service, which has wheelchair access, will continue to serve communities across Fife.

Changes to opening hours mean changes to staff work patterns, so from September 3, a 90-day period of staff consultation took place to share the proposals with staff.

June Souter, Head of Libraries Service Development, commented: “We have reviewed our staff working patterns in line with the new proposed opening and closing times and have worked to deliver a schedule that is mindful of the needs of our customers and our staff. We are very grateful to the staff for their support in helping us to make these changes.

“Fife Cultural Trust operates 29 libraries across Fife with over 150 staff, so the scale of work involved in changing our complex library rotas was many months in the making. Working with the unions throughout the process has helped support these changes.

"The enhanced hours underpin our journey to transform our library service.”

Heather Stuart, Chief Executive said: “Our vision is for libraries to be busy creative and learning hubs at the heart of communities.

"The changed hours is one important step along this journey. We’ve already introduced events to boost footfall but there also exciting plans such as live music and community cinema in our library spaces. By bringing in more visitors, these new services help safeguard the more traditional library services, much loved by our loyal members. We will continue to adapt and innovate to build a vibrant service for the future.”