Have a say on county’s libraries

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PEOPLE across Oxfordshire can comment on plans to cut costs at almost half the county’s libraries by bringing in volunteers.

Bicester’s library in Old Place Yard is one of 22 to remain fully staffed by council employees under the proposals, but others in Chinnor and Woodstock are among those to include an element of volunteering in addition to paid staff.

A total of 16 smaller libraries – including those in Adderbury and Deddington – could become entirely volunteer-run over the next three years, although the county council would provide free access to a suitable building, the county’s book stock and book management system.

A four-month public consultation exercise over the proposals began last Friday.

Councillor Keith Mitchell, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Let me be clear, we enter this consultation from a starting point of keeping all 43 libraries open despite the fact that there is less money to spend. Local communities can help us to achieve that outcome.”

He added: “We do still need to save money from the library service – not doing so would lead to yet more savings having to be made in equally valued services such as social care or highways.”

The council says it will make no final decisions until the end of 2011, and any changes would be phased in over a three-year period.

Members of the public can respond via freepost documents available from libraries and council offices. An online feedback form is also available on the county council’s website.