Shropshire Star

Hub in library to get new privacy screens

A community Hub at Oswestry Library is set to be remodelled to improve privacy for users.


The Hub opened a year ago in the foyer of the library and was designed as somewhere people could go to "self service" their issues by making phone calls or using the internet, but where they would also be able to talk to an advisor if they needed to.

Chris Westwood, customer services manager at Shropshire Council, said after carrying out a consultation with library users it was clear that the main concern was that of privacy.

Mr Westwood shared his plans for the remodelling of the Hub at a meeting of Oswestry Town Council last night.

He said he plans to introduce small "pods" for people to use to discuss personal or private issues which he hopes will made the area less intimidating for people walking through to the main library.

"We've got a system of acoustically shielded pods," he said. "We've gone for something that's temporary rather than something that's built in so that if we need to move them or redesign them we can.

"I've tried to address criticisms and concerns of privacy and dignity for the library users and the Hub users. I want this to work for the Hub users and for the library, but it's very much a learning curve. It has been since the Hub opened and I'm very open-minded about where we go with this."

Mr Westwood said the screens are 1.8m tall and cost £5,800 each.

"You can buy the screens with tops like roofs but then they're £5,500 a piece and that's too expensive," he said. "I was told this had to be the cheapest possible."

Councillors were generally in favour of the plans.

However, Councillor Duncan Kerr said: "It's a shame that you didn't recognise this when you were seeing up the Hub."

And Councillor Matt Lee said: "I do feel the library is an uncomfortable place to be in at the moment. I take my children in there and I tend to walk past the first part and go straight through when I go in there."

Mr Westwood added: "I think it's one of those things we have to try. I think this is something that we've got to do. It should help alleviate the feeling of discomfort."

Plans will be shown to library staff and put on display in the library for users to view and comment on before any changes are made.

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