BRANCH libraries are to be the hub of grassroots council services under a Kirklees plan.
Parts of quiet reading rooms will be converted into front-line Kirklees Council offices with staff tackling complaints over issues like benefits and housing.
Plans to transform the branches into so-called Front Line Service Points will be piloted in Birstall in May.
If successful, the programme will be rolled out across the whole of Kirklees.
Separate rooms and offices will be set up in library premises for sensitive consultations.
The 157 staff working at the 23 branch libraries can choose to re-train to take on the wider role.
But some staff are concerned about the plans to decentralise the authority's services in this way. One female worker, who refused to be named, said there were real fears about the changes.
She said the transformation would undermine the service for staff and users alike.
"I don't think parents would be happy letting their children study at the library with shouting matches and fights going on," she commented.
Another female librarian said reaction among staff had been mixed. While some were looking forward to new opportunities and gaining extra skills, others resented the overhaul.
Staff will be asked whether they want to move to a front-line position. Others can remain as librarians.
An intensive re-training programme is being drawn up.
Guy Daines, principal policy adviser for the national Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said there was a difference between first-stop shops and one-stop shops.
"Most would stop short of expecting the library service to deliver advice," he said.
"You can't be an expert in all parts of local government."
He believed libraries could provide very effective gateways to council services.
"If these interview rooms have video conferencing and have links to the people in the town hall and it's the role of the person in the library simply to set that up, then I can see that is a valuable contribution," he added.
Clr John Smithson, Cabinet member with special responsibility for education and recreation, said the idea was to make it easier for the public to contact the council.
"If you want a face-to-face chat now you have to come into the centre of Huddersfield or Dewsbury. If you live in Denby Dale you have a long way to travel."
He said librarians would be asked to play a developing role.
"It's not a change in job. It's a wider job," he said.