Council to Review Opening Hours of Eleven Libraries

Move comes in response to petition by Northcote Library users

Putney Library could benefit from the review. Picture: Google Streetview

February 9, 2024

Wandsworth Council has revealed it is reviewing borough-wide library opening hours after a petition signed by more than 150 residents. Wandsworth Council is looking at opening hours at all 11 libraries across the borough as it develops a new strategy to manage them.

It comes after 154 residents signed a petition from Wandsworth Conservatives demanding the council increase the opening hours at Northcote Library in Battersea from four days a week to at least six days a week. The new library opened in April last year to replace the previous 1960s building opposite. The scheme was approved under the council’s old Conservative administration, before Labour took over in May 2022.

The petition said the new library is more sustainable as it uses solar energy and air source heat pumps, slashing energy costs, while it has workspaces that can be hired by businesses. It added, “These design options were deliberately chosen by the previous Conservative administration so that opening hours in the new Northcote Library building could be extended beyond the hours offered in the old 1960s building, which was expensive to heat and had limited commercial space to hire out.

“However, when the new library opened in April, it was revealed that it would be closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. We want to see the original aspiration of extended opening hours fulfilled.”

Responding to the petition, a council report revealed a new library strategy is being developed in Wandsworth – with work underway including an assessment of residents’ needs. It said a full review of library opening hours is being carried out across the borough as part of this process to determine “how the current hours are performing, what residents need and what changes might be both beneficial and affordable”.

The council’s environment committee also discussed the petition on 6 February. Matthew Eady, assistant director of environment and community services, said: “We are appreciative and understand the local community’s appetite for extended opening hours but at the moment we are dealing with a cost-of-living crisis, understanding the different uses and reviewing our library strategy model in preparation for a new library strategy.”

He added:, “Once we’ve undertaken that strategy I think that will be the right time therefore to make recommendations on the opening hours across all of our libraries to make sure that they’re meeting the needs of our residents but also within an envelope of what is affordable.”

Conservative councillor Jonathan Cook said Wandsworth has “some of the best libraries in London if not the country”. He added it would be “absolutely fantastic” to extend library opening hours in the borough, particularly at Northcote Library.

Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter