Changes to Reading Library Service

LIBRARY users in Reading can expect to see a number of changes and improvements to the way the service is delivered over the coming months.

Following an extensive service review, a public consultation took place in 2015. As a result of that consultation, the Council is keeping all its library branches open.

It has achieved this by delivering the service in new ways, ranging from reduced opening times reflecting customer preference and usage patterns; working collaboratively with partners; better use of buildings; optimising its use of technology and saving money through re-negotiating with stockists.

Residents can expect to see the following changes across all branches from March:

New technology:

From mid-March, customers will be able to access a new catalogue website, designed with enhanced functions and a modern, user-friendly look and feel;

From late March, new self-service kiosks will be introduced across all Reading libraries; offering a quick and efficient way of issuing, returning and paying for items.

New opening times:

From the beginning of April, there will be new opening times across all libraries. To view the revised times, visit here:

New partnerships:

From the end of April, Palmer Library service will be delivered in partnership with Reading College. This creative new model will offer valuable work-based placement opportunities for young people with learning difficulties, supported by college tutors and council staff.

New locations:

In autumn 2017, Whitley library will relocate to a new home at South Reading Youth and Community Centre.

In winter 2017, Southcote library will relocate to a new home at Southcote Community Centre.

In the last year, the library service has enhanced its offer to members, including the launch of a new eBook service, which gives members the opportunity to download from a choice of hundreds of popular titles. Members can also access to a variety of free learning, research and test resources.

Reading Libraries have also benefited from the installation of a brand new computer network and equipment, as well as offering free WiFi across all branches.

Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture and Sport, said:

“People who use libraries continue to value them, but severe cuts in Government funding mean many Councils – including some close to home – have been forced to consider shutting down branches to make savings. An estimated 343 libraries have closed in the last six years.

“In Reading we have done everything we can to avoid this by making the best possible use of limited resources and to reflect the extent to which our libraries are used.

“A key part of achieving this involved the feedback we received from our extensive library review and consultation process. In order to make our library service sustainable for the future and avoid closures, we have worked on ways to deliver it differently. In all cases, local libraries will now operate on reduced hours, but we have been determined to do that in that in line with public use.

“Making the best possible use of Council buildings is also key. By moving less well-used library services into popular and well-used centres nearby, we can achieve the savings needed and encourage more people to use their local library service.

“We are committed to ensuring our libraries continue to be at the heart of communities, helping everyone achieve their full potential. We are one of the best performing authorities for issuing book but we are trying to do more than just lend books by making the very best of our available resources, adapting to the changing expectations from residents and building on our increasingly important role as community hubs.”

The changes to the library services are set against the backdrop of increasing funding cuts faced by Reading Borough Council. The Council has agreed £70 million of savings and income generation since 2010. In 2013/14 when the present revenue support grant was introduced the Council received £40.3m; that will be just £10.3m next year and will fall below £2m in 2019/10.


Notes to Editors:

New library opening times:

Reading Central Library

Abbey Square, Kings Road, RG1 3BQ

Tel: 0118 901 5950


Monday                          10.00      –        5.00

Tuesday                          10.00      –        7.00

Wednesday                     10.00      –        5.00

Thursday                        10.00      –        7.00

Friday                             10.00      –        5.00

Saturday                         10.00      –        5.00


Battle Library

420 Oxford Road, RG30 1EE

Tel: 0118 901 5100        Fax: 0118 901 5101


Monday                          Closed all day

Tuesday                       1.00      –          7.00

Wednesday                     Closed all day

Thursday                        9.00        –         5.00

Friday                             9.00        –         5.00

Saturday                     10.00      –       3.00


Tilehurst Library

School Road, RG31 5AS

Tel: 0118 901 5112        Fax: 0118 901 5113


Monday                          9.00        –        5.00

Tuesday                          9.00        –        5.00

Wednesday                     Closed all day

Thursday                        1.00      –          7.00

Friday                             Closed all day

Saturday                         10.00      –        3.00


Caversham Library

Church Street, RG4 8AU

Tel: 0118 901 5103        Fax: 0118 901 5104


Monday                          Closed all day

Tuesday                          9.00        –        5.00

Wednesday                     9.00        –        5.00

Thursday                        1.00        –        7.00

Friday                             9.00        –        5.00

Saturday                  10.00             –        3.00
Palmer Park Library

St Bartholomew’s Road, RG1 3QB

Tel: 0118 901 5106        Fax: 0118 901 5107


Monday                          Closed all day

Tuesday             9.00 – 12.00     1.00 – 7.00

Wednesday                     9.00      – 12.00

Thursday           9.00 – 12.00        1.00 – 4.00

Friday                             Closed all day

Saturday                         10.00     –       1.00


Whitley Library

205 Northumberland Avenue, RG2 7PX

Tel: 0118 901 5115        Fax: 0118 901 5116


Monday                          Closed all day

Tuesday              9.00 – 12.00    1.00 – 7.00

Wednesday                     Closed all day

Thursday            9.00 – 12.00       1.00 – 4.00

Friday                             9.00      –      12.00

Saturday                         10.00    –        1.00


Southcote Library

Coronation Square, Southcote Lane, RG30 3BA

Tel: 0118 901 5109        Fax: 0118 901 5110


Monday                       Closed all day

Tuesday           9.00 – 12.00   1.00 – 7.00

Wednesday                  Closed all day

Thursday         9.00 – 12.00      1.00 – 4.00

Friday                          9.00      –     12.00

Saturday                      10.00    –       1.00


The Library Review consultation showed the most common suggestions from library users to find further savings were reducing opening hours, charging or asking for donations for participating in library activities and sharing space with other services or partner organisations.

The review found that Whitley, Palmer Park and Southcote libraries were the least visited, with Southcote and Palmer Park serving the smallest populations.

The new delivery model for Reading Library Service aims to make more effective use of community buildings; reflect patterns of usage and relative local needs; and respond to the consultation feedback.   The Council has been creative in protecting levels of service through new partnerships and co-locating libraries with other services and will be using new technology – introducing self-service across all service points – to reduce costs.

The full report to Policy can be viewed here:

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email or call 0118 937 3957