£1.1 million libraries investment in Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire libraries are set to introduce Open Access (self-service) technology, after securing £1.1 million capital investment.

Open Access will extend library opening times and enable local community groups, county council staff, public sector and partner agency staff to increasingly use libraries as meeting places, in line with the council’s plans to locate its services closer to communities by making better use of its own buildings.

More than £1.1 million of capital funding was agreed in the council’s 2018 Business Plan to introduce open access and touchdown facilities into the nine largest libraries and a further 22 libraries across the county. The Open Access technology allows registered members to use their library card as a swipe card to access the library outside of opening hours, and use the self-service systems to issue and return items, use public computers or meeting rooms.

The programme is due to be rolled out in the next two years, with an ambition to install the technology in as many libraries as possible by the end of 2021.

Steve Criswell, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Communities and Partnership Committee said: “While other councils are cutting library services or reducing opening hours, we are investing in our assets and this project is part of the work we are doing to reinvigorate libraries across the county and enable them to do more for residents, partners and staff. The technology is increasingly set up in a wide variety of settings across the country and we know it’s a fantastic way to extend libraries’ opening times.   

“It is an exciting stage for our libraries that goes beyond the introduction of a new technology. This development fully embraces our transformative approach to serve our citizens from the heart of the community they are part of, and to upskill our staff and work with partners so that anyone can come in a library and get all the help they need.”