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Smart Libraries

In 2018 up to 14 of Leicestershire’s libraries will be converted to a self-access Smart Library, after a successful trial in Syston.

Self-access means that library members will be able to use their library card to access the buildings outside of staffed hours.

During self-access hours, Smart Library members can:

  • Borrow, return and renew library books using the self-service kiosks
  • Pick up and borrow reserved items awaiting collection
  • Use public computers, photocopy, print and access Wi-Fi
  • Access the public library catalogue
  • Meet as a group free of charge in the open library space
  • Hire a meeting room (pre booking required)

When in Smart Library mode staff won't be on site to help with the computers, answer enquiries about books and other library resources or provide general information, but you'll still be able to do all of the above.

Who can use a Smart Library

Smart Library membership is available to people 16 and over. Young people under 16 can still access the library during self-access times if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18.

Existing library members who want to make use of self access opening hours need to ask for Smart Library membership.

Book groups and other community groups (such as ‘Knit and knatter’, craft clubs, history societies) are also able to use the library at these times. Anyone wishing to set up a community group can use the library as a meeting space within Smart Library hours.

When Smart Libraries are being introduced

The installation of Smart Library technology will happen over the coming months. Each library will close for a short period of time while the changes happen.

The timetable below shows the dates that we are currently working to, but it's subject to change. We’ll update this list as we know more, so dates may change as installations take place.

LibraryProvisional installation dates (library closed)
Birstall23 April – 14 May
Blaby14 – 28 May
Glenfield28 May – 11 June
Wigston25 June – 16 July
Oadby11 – 25 June
Hinckley27 August - 16 September
Shepshed17 - 30 September
Earl Shilton1 - 14 October
Broughton Astley15 - 28 October
Lutterworth29 October - 11 November
Coalville12 - 25 November
Ashby3 - 16 December
Loughborough5 November - 2 January

The rollout plan follows a successful trial at Syston Library which ran from early 2017, known by the previous name of Library Plus.

The experience from other areas and Syston has helped us to make sure self-access works in a way that is safe and secure for library users. Further information about what a Smart Library is and how it works:

What is a smart library?    Opens new window

Changes to staffed hours

When Smart Library technology has been installed across all 14 libraries, we'll be moving over to Smart Library hours.

We recognise that some library users might need more support in order to make full use of library facilities, so we are proposing to concentrate the staffed hours at times when these customers are more likely to use the service. From analysis of usage patterns we know that:

  • Mornings are generally a more popular time to use the library for people over 60 and people with a disability,
  • Afternoons are more popular with children and young people under 16,
  • Saturday mornings are a popular time for all user groups.

To see the proposed Smart Library opening hours for your library, visit your library web page.

For more information about Smart Libraries check back to this page for updates or ask at your local library.

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