A COUNCILLOR has welcomed a new initiative that means Stalybridge Library will soon have extended opening hours.
Cllr David Sweeton is backing Open+ that will enable library goers to use the building outside of normal times.
He said: “The last review of libraries we had resulted in closures, but this one means they are open more.
“A lot of people were worried about the future of Stalybridge Library, but not only have we kept it, but have extended opening hours.
“The good news about the latest review is that we have kept all our libraries.”
Emma Varnam, from Tameside library services said: “If we hadn’t made the changes, we would have had to close more libraries.”
Open+ is a system that has been in operation in other parts of the country for some time, especially in universities and higher education.
Library users will be given a card and pin number so they can gain entry to the building when it is closed to the general public.
Stalybridge Library is likely to be open between 9am-8pm Monday to Saturday to “trusted library users who sign up and comply to the conditions”.
Stalybridge and Hyde will be the last of Tameside’s eight libraries to go live with Open+ as the delay was caused by both being listed buildings and special permission was needed before CCTV, alarms and infrastructure were put in place.
Testing of the self-service system is already under way and Denton Library is due to become the first to go live this month. Stalybridge could follow suit in early December.
Open+ offers a big increase in weekly opening hours. It was designed after taking into account the hundreds of responses to a recent consultation process, and gives people greater choice in how and when they use the library service.
It will cover all the borough’s libraries except for Tameside Central in Ashton.
However, Open+ membership is not automatic. People need to be 16 or over and must undergo an induction process.
For full details of the eligibility criteria, ask at your local library or visit: www.tameside.gov.uk/libraries/openplus/eligibility
During Open+ hours, members who have completed the induction will be able to gain access by using a card-swipe system that has been successfully and safely utilised by other authorities.
Security will be maintained through CCTV monitoring and an emergency phone.
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive member with responsibility for libraries, said: “Open+ means longer opening times, and these will make our libraries more inclusive as people who work unsocial hours will be able to use them more easily.
There will also be lots more time to get online, which will help with job hunting and accessing online services such as booking GP appointments.
“It all adds up to create a service fit to meet people’s demands in the 21st century.
“However, we have to use this new technology in the right way to preserve the security of our customers and our buildings, which means Open+ members have to complete an induction process with a member of staff.”