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Chance to use Berkhamsted's library without a librarian

Chance to use Berkhamsted's library without a librarian

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Deborah Price at 1:22pm 18th July 2019.

Bookworms in Berkhamsted can now pop into their local library after the librarian’s gone home – with a special swipe card that unlocks the doors and switches on the lights.

The new system – known as ‘open+’ – replaces the traditional library membership card with a swipe card and PIN system.

And it means registered users can access all the usual library services, earlier in the morning and later into the evening – without a librarian in the building.

Hertfordshire County Council’s executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris likens the cards to the system used by some banks – enabling customers to use indoor cash-points after closing time.

And he says the aim is to make libraries more accessible, particularly to those residents who find it difficult to get there during existing opening hours.

Cllr Douris said:

“One of the things that is so very important is to let people have greater access to libraries.

“It’s aimed at anybody who finds that the current times are not so convenient for them.

“And it’s going to allow people to pop into the library on their way to the station, or taking children to school in the morning . . . or to call in in their way home from work.”

Despite the change, the traditional opening hours at Berkhamsted – when the library will be staffed by a librarian – will remain the same.

But the ‘open+’ system will allow users to access the building for an extra 31 hours a week.

Six days a week, the ‘open+’ card system will work from 7am at Berkhamsted Library.

And on three days of the week (Monday, Thursday and Friday) it will operate until 8pm.

The automated ‘open+’ system has already been trialled by Hertfordshire County Council at the library at Croxley Green, near Rickmansworth.

And, if successful, in Berkhamsted it could be rolled out to other libraries in Hertfordshire too.

However, no decision on future rollout plans will be taken until usage figures and user feedback have been evaluated.

A small number of people are said to have already been issued with the new cards, which will be promoted to users of Berkhamsted Library later this month.

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