DENMARK'S self-service book lending model is the inspiration behind new, open access libraries in South Gloucestershire.

Thanks to the installation of new open access technology, users will be able to browse, borrow and renew books and other resources, or to use the space for study at staffless times of the day, by using a swipe card to gain entry.

Extended opening hours will be introduced in Winterbourne, Yate and Thornbury libraries from Monday, October 2.

Open libraries were first trialled at Denmark's Silkeborg public library in 2004 as a way of continuing the provision of service, whilst saving money on staffing costs. Now 180 of Denmark’s 450 libraries are run in this way.

After initial concerns that people might steal books or cause trouble during self-service hours, the Danes found instead that users tended to gain a feeling of ownership of their library and take good care of it.

The changes to South Gloucestershire's library services come as the culmination of a two-year review process that included extensive public consultation, as the council sought to save £500,000.

Open access will go live on October 2 at Winterbourne, Yate and Thornbury libraries, with users able to use the library from 7.30am to 8.30pm, seven days-a-week.

It is hoped that those who work during the day and have limited time available during the weekends will be able to take advantage of early morning or evening opening.

To use open access, users will need to receive an induction to the system at one of the libraries where it is installed. 

All South Gloucestershire libraries will also be running with new staffed opening hours from October 2. Staffed hours are reduced from previous levels as this has been the primary way the council has been able to achieve its target savings.

Other changes to the South Gloucestershire library service include supporting Community Libraries in Marshfield, as the mobile library service has been withdrawn. Also, the Chipping Sodbury library will now be run by volunteers, with the support of Sodbury Town Council, with South Gloucestershire Council continuing to fund the costs of the service and the training of new volunteers.

In the Severn Beach area the council has arranged for the North Somerset mobile to extend its service, funded by Members Award Funding and parish councils.

Cabinet Member for Communities and Tourism, Councillor Heather Goddard, said: “Our libraries are a wonderful resource, for residents of all ages and I am delighted that despite continued budgetary pressure on the council we have, working closely with the community, been able to develop a solution that maintains peoples’ access to books and other resources, while making a contribution to the savings that we have had to make.

“New technology will work alongside our excellent library staff so that, as a community, we can make the best use of these facilities throughout the week and even more residents can visit and take advantage of them.”

For full details on staffed and open access hours at South Gloucestershire's libraries, to book an induction session as well as to browse the catalogue and reserve or renew books, go online at: