Council trials 'out-of-hours' library opening with self-service scheme

Residents across Oxfordshire could soon have ‘out-of-hours’ access to their local library under an exciting new system being trialled by the county council.

A self-service trial scheme is being introduced at Summertown and Eynsham libraries, extending access to books, online services and study space into the evenings and at weekends.

The system, in which visitors use an individual passcode to gain entry, has the potential to make the county’s libraries available to thousands of people who cannot currently visit during normal working hours.

When adopted more widely, it will give Oxfordshire residents unprecedented access to library and wider council services, and help cement libraries’ position as important focal points at the heart of the communities they serve.

The system has now ‘gone live’ at Summertown and is due to get underway in Eynsham next month.

Huge potential

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet Member for Cultural Services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: “This is hugely exciting and has the potential to be a real ‘game-changer’ in terms of opening up access to local libraries and encouraging more people through the doors.

“It’s a little bit like swiping your card at the entrance to your bank after it has closed to use the cash machines.

“We’re really keen to see how people take to the idea at these two libraries so we can assess the scope for rolling it out more widely across the county. That’s ultimately what we would like to do, and we know other councils are looking at introducing similar schemes elsewhere.”

Summertown and Eynsham trial

New card readers and keypads have been installed at the entrance of the libraries, and staff have been speaking to visitors about the out-of-hours service and issuing passcodes to individual library card holders.

Cllr Lindsay Gale said: “It will be a case of seeing how things go and looking at what we can do to improve the service as we go. Both Eynsham and Summertown libraries are very well supported at the heart of thriving communities, where we believe there is great potential for this to be a success.”