GOING to Windsor and Maidenhead libraries on a Sunday could be a thing of the past as the council looks into saving costs.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) has launched an online consultation for residents to express their views on the proposed changes at the borough’s libraries.

It is proposed to reduce opening hours during the week by 123 hours – which RBWM believes it will still deliver a ‘comprehensive library service’ and deliver savings at the same time.

The borough currently has 475.5 total library opening hours a week – the most in the Berkshire area.

The council said they came to this proposal based on usage data, knowledge of the local community, staff input, groups who regularly meet at the libraries, cost per hour, and equality considerations.

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RBWM also stated they have explored ‘alternative delivery methods’ for the services such as volunteer-led and unstaffed libraries, outsourcing, and mutualisation – but concluded these options did not offer significant savings without major risks attached.

Fourteen libraries could be affected by these changes such as Eton Wick, Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot, Datchet, etc.

Councillor Samantha Rayner (Conservative: Eton and Castle), lead member for leisure and resident services, says: “It is vital that we hear your thoughts about libraries but we also need to consider how they will be used going forward and if there are ways we can adapt or change them to reflect their current usage.

“There was already an excellent digital offering as an alternative, for many, to physical visits to our buildings. We’ve seen this become even more popular during the lockdown period and we should consider that when reviewing opening hours as it will help with reducing running costs.

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“Our libraries provide a wonderful range of support via community and volunteer groups as well as a mobile library service and an online book reservation service so we need to gather all views on how we can best serve our residents.”

RBWM planned to launch the survey in March – but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The consultation will run until November 30, 2020 where the feedback gathered will then be reported to cabinet January 2021.

The consultation can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GLY369Z

Those wishing for a physical copy of the consultation can contact Angela.Huisman@RBWM.gov.uk or call 07717 693031.