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Changes to Dorset's libraries from Monday 1 July

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When we developed the Dorset Council library strategy, we asked our communities when they wanted our libraries to be open. Based on feedback and identified community needs, we’ve updated our library opening hours. These new hours were adopted and published in July 2023 and will come into effect from Monday 1 July 2024. Our activities and events timetable will also be updated to align with these new hours.

While some libraries may see a bigger change than others, overall we have been able to keep almost the same number of weekly staffed hours across our library network, 630 instead of 631. Although there are changes to opening hours in many of our libraries, they are more consistent across the network, making it easier for customers to know when their local libraries are available. There will be no reduction in the service provided and all previous services, information and support will continue to be available. 

Our customer facing roles have been updated to reflect new, modern ways of working and customer expectation. Following consultation with employees and union representatives, roles will now incorporate elements of dealing with wider Dorset Council enquiries from customers and delivering library services out in our communities, improving access to council services for Dorset residents. 

To do this, we have created a structure which offers more security to employees. The total number of roles available across the service was 135.  Following the internal recruitment process, 90 per cent of confirmed appointments represent a promotion. Where we know we still have vacancies, we are continuing to recruit.

The impact of the transformation journey has been carefully considered at every stage of the process. The new staffing structure presented fresh opportunities for all to apply for roles across multiple work areas and locations. The flexibility in the choice of roles and updated working patterns is considered to be positive.  

Through the transformation process, we have invested in permanent roles, with guaranteed and structured hours. Our library strategy sets out our commitment to invest in our workforce to support them in progressing their careers both within the service and the wider council.

Aidan Dunn, Executive Director for Corporate Development said:

“Over the course of 18 months, through our #LetsTalkLibraries campaign, we worked with our customers, communities, employees and partners to develop a new Library Strategy. The strategy outlines the library service’s contribution to Dorset and how we will support individuals and communities to be more connected and improve life chances, with a mission to ‘Inspire, Connect and Enable our communities through our services’. 

“Over the course of 2 phases of public consultation we built a clear picture of both what our current library users and our non-library users wanted to see from us, now and in the future. 

“The last time our service was reviewed was over 10 years ago. Since then, there have been significant changes in what our customers want from their libraries. Libraries are now about so much more than just books. They’ve become community spaces offering a range of activities, information and support, providing easier access for Dorset residents.

“Our library teams are excited to welcome you during our new opening times.”

 To find out more about the new opening hours and read the strategy visit the libraries pages on our website.