Convenience of Library+ scheme praised by visitors and community groups

Residents and community groups have given the thumbs-up to a pilot scheme at Thimblemill Library which uses new technology to allow them to access the library at times outside of normal opening hours.

Library+ works with existing security and CCTV systems and people sign-up to be able to have access using their library card and a PIN number. People have to sign up to an additional agreement and have an induction.

Being accessible for longer and being able to offer a range of facilities during extended hours will help ensure the library remains an integral part of the local community. Thimblemill Library user Claire MacRorie said:

“It’s absolutely brilliant for us shift workers especially when we cycle past here every day when we go to work. So when we come back from work, we can call in because we’ll now have the pass to use outside of working hours.”

Sandwell Council applied for and successfully secured £495,000 funding from Arts Council England’s Libraries Improvement Fund (LIF) to support the roll-out of this technology to Thimblemill Library in Smethwick and, later this year, to another 10 libraries across the borough.

The grants are administered, awarded and monitored by Arts Council England. Funding has been provided by Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Thimblemill Library is well-placed to pilot Library+ as it has a record of pioneering key initiatives: it is the UK’s first Library of Sanctuary, providing a place of safety for all, particularly those fleeing violence and persecution. It is also a registered Place of Welcome where volunteers run free, weekly coffee mornings which include housing advice and support from the council’s Neighbourhoods Team.

Many libraries across the country use this model of service delivery, with the majority using Open+ to enable a library to open with or without staff needing to be present. Open+ is the brand name of the product produced by Bibliotheca, which provides the self-service kiosks in Sandwell Libraries.

The funding from Arts Council England’s LIF will support the roll-out of this technology to ten other libraries within the borough later in the year, including Cradley Heath and Langley.


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