LIBRARY hours are being changed after a review was carried out by East Lothian Council, with plans to scrap evening and weekend hours at some while extending others.

The council said it was introducing revised hours at a number of libraries after it looked into how the branches were being used and how it could “direct resources to meet areas of high demand”.

Worst affected by the changes is Port Seton Library, where users have launched a petition in protest at plans to scrap weekend and evening opening hours.

The library will only open for 19 hours a week, spread over four days, under the new hours.

One local mother told the Courier the move was a “sad outcome for future generations”.

Karen Campbell, from Cockenzie, who launched the petition, said: “Our libraries are used for so much more than books – help with forms, computer access, exhibitions and interest groups.

“They are a meeting place and hub for local people at an economic time when they are needed more than ever.”

And she slammed the “slow, gradual way East Lothian Council is closing off this option to us all”.

Port Seton Library is based in Port Seton Centre, which is open 9am-8.45pm Monday to Friday and 9am-4.30pm on Saturdays

The library will be open on Monday 2-5pm, Tuesday 10am-1pm and 2-5pm, Thursday 2-6pm and Friday 10am-1pm and 2-5pm.

Changes are also coming in at Longniddry Library, which will open for additional hours on Wednesdays 10am-1pm but close at 6pm rather than 7.30pm.

Musselburgh Library is also extending its hours on Wednesdays from 1pm to 5pm.

The council said usage at Port Seton had fallen from 12,752 borrowed items three years ago to 11,302 last year. It compared the numbers to Longniddry, where last year 23,348 items were borrowed.

Users of Port Seton Library, however, pointed to the exhibitions regularly put on display there and meetings.

Ian Donaldson, a member of the Yin O’ ‘Oo group,who meet in the library on Tuesday afternoons, said he was opposed to the hours being reduced.

He said: “I think it is unacceptable. The library is used for much more than simply taking out books, it hosts our meetings and we are surrounded by books we can access while there.”

Childminder Laura Bishop also regularly attends the library with her charges and called for hours to be extended and more done to encourage people to use the facility.

She said: “I use it for photocopying and computer access for my business and the children love playing in the children’s area and picking books to read. It is an important community service.”

Ward councillor Neil Gilbert said Port Seton was bearing the brunt of cuts to library hours. He said: “I think it’s vital that if Port Seton library is to remain accessible to the local community it must remain open at least one evening a week and particularly on a Saturday morning.”

A council spokesperson said: “These changes follow a review of usage at all our libraries, carried out in consultation with our library staff, so resources can be directed to meet areas of higher demand.

“While Port Seton Library will no longer open on a Saturday morning, Longniddry, Prestonpans and Tranent libraries are all open on a Saturday morning, as is Musselburgh Library, which is open all day on a Saturday, and library customers are able to use these libraries.

“Plans to have computer access in the Port Seton community centre, as well as in the library part of the centre, will offer people opportunities to access PCs outwith current library opening hours.

“In recent years, East Lothian Council has substantially increased the opening hours of libraries. In 2011 East Lothian libraries were open 352 hours whereas today they are open 399 hours per week.”