Devon will become the latest authority to move its library over to a new community-owned mutual organisation.
Councillors approved the plans at a cabinet meeting yesterday (11th March), following in the footsteps of other councils, including Suffolk and the City of York.
The new structure will see the creation of a mutual, an independent charitable organisation owned by the community which will have the responsibility of running the county's library service. It will mean that it will be eligible for 80% discount on business rates, and will be able to apply for grants and funds not open to local authorities.
The council hopes it will save £1.5m from its library budget by April 2016, on top of £3m it has already slashed from its libraries over the past three years. It said that it had reached the decision after considering other options, such as sharing services with neighbouring authorities and bringing in an external provider.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon's cabinet member with responsibility for libraries said: "We have seen library closures happening across the country, and we want to avoid that happening here. Instead our vision is to develop a vibrant, dynamic organisation at the heart of community life that we will commission our library service from, to enable our residents to access and contribute to high quality services for learning, skills and information for years to come. This won’t be an easy task, and we’ve got a lot work to do over coming months, but we have to make sure we are making the right decisions to secure Devon’s valuable library service for the future."