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Oxfordshire council proposes stopping funding half its libraries
29.11.10 | Benedicte Page
Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to stop funding 20 of the county's 43 libraries and is "asking local communities to come up with innovative ideas to run their local libraries" instead.
Five libraries in Oxford are among those earmarked to lose council support, including Blackbird Leys, Summertown, Headington, Littlemore and Old Marston. There would also be "possible further changes to service levels in future years," the council added.
The cost-cutting step has been made in the context of a £155m saving needed in the next four years. Oxfordshire council said it planned to provide library "hubs" centred on key areas of population in the county with "a quality support network of mobile library services and an extension of the library loan service to include e-books and e-audio downloads, so people can get the books they want direct to their home PCs."
Residents will also continue to be able to go online and order books from an online catalogue, with the volumes delivered to their nearest library hub or to the village or town by the mobile library service, said the council.
Oxfordshire is to set up "a pot of money" to which local communities can bid for funds to help them take responsibility for any library the council wants to stop funding. "This would see services shaped by community needs and possibly hosted by partner organisations offering space in community buildings such as, children’s centres, community centres, schools and health centres." said the council.
Councillor Keith Mitchell, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said the council had "agonised" over the proposals, but said: "We have a clear vision to have a quality, core network of libraries based on centres of population. These will still be run by the council and they will be supplemented by mobile libraries. In line with the government's Big Society agenda, we are very keen to hear from local communities and organisations who may wish to take on the running of local libraries and we believe there will be enthusiasm from people who wish to get involved."