Opening hours cuts hit Stoke libraries

Opening hours cuts hit Stoke libraries

A decline in visitors to libraries in Stoke-on-Trent has been blamed on a change in opening hours.

Libraries in Bentilee, Hanley, Longton, Meir, Stoke, Trentham and Tunstall have seen user numbers drop by more than 68,000 from 699,898 to 631,626 since 2010, the Stoke Sentinel reported.

Hanley’s City Central library, the most used in the area, saw visitors drop from more than 189,000 in 2010 to 180,328 in March 2013.

The Sentinel said the decline had been: “put down to a shake-up of opening times across the city with libraries now open for just over 297 hours a year in total – compared to more than 328 hours prior to May 2012”.

But Adrian Knapper, city council cabinet member for health, wellbeing and culture, told the newspaper: "Visitor figures at city libraries have fluctuated over the past few years but we are set to see an increase in visitors across this financial year if they continue at the current rate.

"Last year severe weather in the winter months really impacted on visitor numbers, with visitors being put off by the snow and ice. Changes to opening times have also bedded in this year, and an increase in visitors also reflects people acknowledging these changes."

Burslem and Fenton were shut last year by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in a bid to save more than £200,000.