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Time running out for library consultation

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Marple Library Stockport Council Friends of Memorial Park

As we recently reported, Stockport Council has set up an online questionnaire to ask library users about their experiences ahead of the proposed 'Open+' scheme.

Open+ is a self-service system which, according to the Council, “makes it possible for people to access library services on a self-service basis when it’s most convenient for them.”

However, concerns are growing about the future of the library, which will see a reduction in staff during the Open+ hours of operation. A number of questions have arisen, which as yet remain unanswered. Representatives of the Friends of Memorial Park and Marple Civic Society held a meeting with library management staff but were unable to ascertain how many staffed hours will be lost as a result of the changes.

Unusually, Marple Library is housed in a two-storey building with an internal balcony. For insurance reasons, it will not be possible to access the upper floor when there are no staff on the premises. This potentially means the reference library will have to remain closed outside of core times. 

Sharon Goddard, who runs the Bookworm book clubs in the library, has noticed a degree of anxiety among some of her members. The new system relies on everyone being able to use the technology, but there are still people within the community who will find it difficult. It is believed that unaccompanied under-16s will be restricted – a strange decision at a time when children are being encouraged to read more. Some people have expressed worries about their safety as the building's location is somewhat secluded.

Concerns have also been raised over the questionnaire itself. There are suggestions that some of its questions are worded in such a way that respondents are unable to give full answers. 

Sharon is encouraging everyone to make their feelings known. She believes the library will no longer be “The friendly, welcoming community space we have come to love,” and is asking as many people as possible to get involved before the consultation closes on December 15. 

The questionnaire is on the Stockport Council website: https://consultation.stockport.gov.uk/communications/libaries-consultation/consultation/subpage.2018-10-15.2908352770/