People are being invited to have their say on the borough’s libraries in the wake of sweeping changes made by Barnet Council.

An independent evaluation is being carried out to gauge residents’ views on the shake-up and help inform the council’s decisions on any further changes.

This includes an online questionnaire, which is available until Thursday, November 7 at:

The organisation carrying out the review, Activist Group, will also hold public events on the library changes, and the above link includes details of how to sign up.

Barnet Council launched an overhaul of the borough’s libraries in 2016, partly in a drive to save money following cuts to funding from central Government.

The council says it has kept all the borough’s 14 libraries open while some local authorities have been forced to make closures.

Overall opening hours have been increased thanks to self-service technology, and the council claims the shake-up will save £1.6 million per year.

But campaigners have repeatedly raised concerns over accessibility and security following big cuts to hours during which staff are on duty.

The cuts mean staff are now available for as little as 15 hours a week in some libraries.

During unstaffed hours, people can gain access using a card and PIN code.

But this has led to concerns that youngsters under the age of 15 – who cannot enter unstaffed buildings unless accompanied by an adult – are being shut out of libraries.

The lack of staff also means disabled people have reported problems using the service.

The decision to rent out some parts of library buildings for commercial use has also led to concerns that youngsters revising for exams have less study space.

Pressure group Save Barnet Libraries complained to the Government about the libraries shake-up in 2017, claiming it was unlawful.

But the Secretary of State ruled in April that Barnet’s library service complied with the relevant legislation and ruled out holding a public inquiry.

Cllr Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the community leadership and libraries committee, said: “Following the remodelling of our library service which began in 2016, it is very important that we look carefully at how the current service is meeting the needs of people who live and work in Barnet.

“Feedback gathered as part of this independent evaluation will play an important role in assessing these changes, and in whether there is anything else we can do to enhance services.

“I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take the time to take part in the questionnaire or to attend one of the public events.”