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Library staff assure residents there is privacy at new customer service desks

Staff have assured library users that there is privacy available for customer services on offer after concerns were raised.

Last week the Advertiser reported the concerns of a library volunteer, who said the new scheme to move customer services from the town hall to the library had led her to overhear a private discussion about emergency housing when she was stacking books on shelves.

This week the council agreed to show the Advertiser the new layout in Maidenhead Library which includes three private interview rooms and ‘contact points’ where residents can discuss customer services seven days a week from 9am-7pm.

Jacqui Hurd, head of library and resident services, said: “We still wanted it to look and feel like a library.

“We’ve had a lot of really positive feedback and generally people are finding it really helpful because there are no time constraints on customer services.

“People are reading. When they are waiting they have a book in their hands, that’s what we call up-selling.”

Jacqui said the customer services move had been done on a ‘like-for-like’ basis so the same number of private interview rooms and contact points have moved from the town hall to the library.

Addressing concerns the contact points were out in the open, Jacqui said they had ordered some new bookshelves, which will be placed further away from the desks and they were going to add soundproof barriers.

She also said a request for a quote had gone out to see how much it would cost for an additional private interview room.

When asked how the staff had coped with the change, Jacqui said: “There have been some reservations.

“Some staff were used to sitting at a desk in the town hall, and they’ve gone from that to flexible shifts, where they could be working Monday-Sunday.”

But she also said utilising the library buildings for more services meant they were more likely to stay open.

“If more councils did this it would protect libraries,” she added.

Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton Wick), cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “Our staff just want to get it right. We could not have done this without them.”

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