Gateshead Council is calling for volunteers to take over the running of five of its libraries.
The authority has decided to turn five of its 17 libraries into community-run libraries, while continuing to support them financially.
The decision follows a consultation where respondents objected to library closures, but expressed an interest in keeping them going with volunteer help. The five libraries concerned are Sunderland Road, Low Fell, Winalton, Lobley Hill and Ryton. The council is holding further meetings this month to assess volunteer support and discuss further. It is also hoping that members of the public will assist with its “Readers at Home” service, which delivers books to housebound residents.
Councillor Linda Green, cabinet member for culture on Gateshead Council, said: “It is important to stress that there has been no decision to close these five libraries. We have already held a series of public meetings to explain our plans for a core network of 12 main libraries complemented by five additional (non core) volunteer-run community libraries, and to gauge people’s levels of interest in becoming involved in the running of their local library. Some of those meetings gave some cause for optimism.”
She added: “We now need to firm up those levels of interest and we hope that everyone interested in volunteering in one of these libraries will come along to our next round of meetings to find out more.”
Neighbouring Newcastle City Council is also changing its library service, planning to close ten of its 18 libraries in an attempt to make budget savings.