The future of Thorney Library is being put in jeopardy by the failure of an automatic-access system.
Earlier this year, a review of library opening hours across the city saw a plan to reduce the hours libraries would be staffed to cut costs, but to introduce a new self-service system so people could use libraries at other times.
Until May this year, Thorney Library in Church Street was open for 21 hours per week and the new system should have seen it available for 25 hours – only 10 of which would be staffed. At other times, people should have been able to use a key card to open the door.
However, the city council hasn’t been able to make the out-of-hours entry system work properly so the village’s library service has been restricted to manned opening hours only.
The problem with the access system seems to be a simple door-closer to shut the inner lobby door. Because the door has an unusual shape (it’s pointed at the top, like a Gothic arch) a regular door-closer can’t be fitted.
Now, the Parish Council has asked for a full explanation why the library is not open as promised and what’s being done to sort things out.
“The building may have a few particular problems as it is an older and Listed building but Thorney Parish Council is now very concerned that this long delay is jeopardising the welfare of the Library,” a Parish Council spokesman said.
“At present it is only accessible for a total of 10 hours a week, which is less than half the hours it was open before the changes were implemented.”
Parish Councillors say there was a complete lack of foresight by the City Council, altering staffing hours before the automatic system was properly tried and tested.
“Although we feel angry and frustrated by this, we feel even more frustrated and angered by the apparent lack of expertise in getting the automatic system into working order. We are led to believe that what is needed is a door-closer system that will properly close the inner lobby door. We are aware that the door has an unusual shape that prevents the use of a conventional closer but surely it cannot beyond the expertise of a City Council and its contractors to find a workable alternative.”