How you can access your local library - even when the staff aren’t there

PUBLISHED: 13:44 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 21 August 2019

Norfolk County Council is increasing the number of libraries offering open library services Photo: Nick Butcher

Norfolk County Council is increasing the number of libraries offering open library services Photo: Nick Butcher

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All but three of Norfolk’s libraries could be accessible without a librarian by the end of the year, as the roll-out of ‘open libraries’ continues.

Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMargaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council has revealed 10 more locations for its open library scheme, which creates time slots where members can access services outside of regular opening times - without the building being staffed.

First introduced in June 2018 in 30 different libraries, members can sign up to be given access to the services at certain times when a member of staff is not present - providing they do not have a history of misusing the services.

A year on and 10 more libraries have been added to the rollout, with the county council hoping to have the service available in all but three of its 47 sites by the end of 2019.

Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities at County Hall, said: "We know the current opening times mean some residents may not be able to visit their library during the working day, so by extending the opening hours we're offering unprecedented access to all the vital resources our libraries offer.

"We want to make Norfolk's libraries more accessible to a new audience, who have not traditionally used the library service because their local branch isn't open at a time when they can visit."

The service is set to be brought in at Costessey, Earlham, Gaywood, Harleston, Loddon, Mile Cross, Plumstead, Hunstanton, King's Lynn and Tuckswood.

Meanwhile the three libraries set to miss out are West Earlham, Reepham and Hingham, each due to building difficulties which a county council spokesman said means introducing the technology would not be cost effective.

The spokesman also insisted the introduction of open libraries had not resulted in any reduction in staff, though some changes had been made to the times staff work.

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Since its introduction last year, 39,047 people have signed up to use the service, with libraries accessed 264,036 times via it.

Most branches offering the initiative open between 8am and 7pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

How does it work?

Open libraries allows people to access services at certain times when staff aren't present.

Library members are required to sign up to use the service, which will see staff check whether they have a recent history of misusing the library.

If they are approved they will be provided with a pin number to enter the building, allowing them to borrow and return items or use computers and printing services.

Library users are required to scan their library card on entry, with the pin number unlocking the doors via a keypad at the entrance.

The privilege comes with a number of terms and conditions and children under the age of 16 are not allowed to access it without adult supervision.

The libraries are monitored by CCTV at all hours, which monitor and record images for the safety and security of visitors.

Details on when and where the service is available can be found at

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