Cuts ‘to help keep all county libraries open’

COUNCILLORS are set to discuss the future of library services.

Durham County Council’s cabinet committee is due to discuss a planned consultation that could see library opening hours cut and a mobile service reviewed.

Bosses say it will secure the future of all 12 town centre facilities and 27 community library buildings, despite the council having to make cuts of £159.2m by 2016.

Coun Maria Plews, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to put forward a strategy for the future of the service that enables all libraries to remain open, but means we can make the required savings and address changing demand.”

The council says the number of active members has fallen by four per cent in the last three years, with mobile library membership falling from 7,800 in 2008 to just 3,538 in March last year.

Libraries need to save £1.457m over the next four years.

Options include reduced opening hours of quieter libraries and staging less mobile library stops.

Despite the cuts, money has been put aside to make much-needed improvements to some of the library buildings.

The cabinet will be asked to confirm a 12-week consultation and if approved, library users, staff and the general public, will be asked their views on the proposed changes during the consultation likely to be held from Friday, February 10, to Friday, May 4.