Sutton libraries to open for longer

08 Mar 2024

Sutton Council's libraries will open for longer - up to seven days a week and from eight in the morning up to nine in the evening - after councillors agreed plans to introduce self access technology in all eight of the borough’s libraries.

At a time when many local authorities are closing libraries due to financial challenges, Sutton is making certain that libraries remain at the heart of our community.

Sutton is able to do this by using state-of-the-art self access technology. The busier libraries, Sutton Central and Wallington, will be fully staffed from 9am to 5pm and will be self-access during extended hours.  Smaller libraries will remain staffed at least one day a week, but will be open for longer with extended periods of self access.

Sutton’s libraries are welcoming, creative and safe spaces where visitors can enjoy free access to a wide range of activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. The  borough’s libraries support everything from early years development, digital literacy and community activities to study spaces, cultural celebrations and council services. 

During 2022 to 2023, 43% of residents have a library membership card in Sutton and they borrow a staggering 880,000 books a year - that's 10 books per household on average. 70% of these books were either picked up or dropped off using our self-service system. 

Study sessions are a hit too in Sutton’s libraries with over 24,000 bookings for study spaces last year. 60,000 people also attended one of our eight libraries for cultural activities or events and for our youngest library fans over 25,000 parents, carers, and children danced and sang their way through rhymetimes. 

The recent self-access trial at Wallington Library has been popular with users and is an efficient way to use council resources while allowing the Council to increase opening hours. This compares to many London boroughs where library closures and reduced opening hours are part of wider budget cuts. The proposal to extend self-access to all Sutton’s libraries also follows positive feedback from a recent borough-wide consultation. 

Councillor Barry Lewis, Chair of the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee, said: “This is a win for Sutton residents and library users. Lack of money means we have to find ways to save money and self-service does this. But with longer opening hours and seven million books available to borrow, Sutton residents have now got access to some of the best libraries in the country.

“Following a successful trial at Wallington Library last year, along with clear support from our recent consultation process - with 73% of respondents in favour of self access - these proposals will enable more of our residents to use our services at times when it suits them.

“We want to be an efficient and well-run council, which delivers the best possible services within the resources available and makes the best use of our buildings, workforce and technology. It is exactly this approach that means Sutton is leading the way in improving its library offer to residents with self-service systems while other councils are closing or reducing their library services.”