Libraries could close after another round of cost-cutting, Kirklees Council has confirmed.
Council chiefs are launching a consultation next week that says “in order to balance its books the council may need to close a number of libraries.”
The budget is being cut to £2.2m from £3.9m and the authority is asking for ideas on how to re-shape the library service.
Among them are potentially drastic changes such as outsourcing or making it a profit-making company.
Kirklees has 24 libraries which are currently supported by more than 450 volunteers and Friends groups.
Volunteers have meant the opening hours at current libraries can be maintained beyond what Kirklees can fund so far.
Kirklees says central library services will remain, and they ask people if they will visit a central library, use online services, travel elsewhere or stop using it altogether.
Other options include:
- It remaining in council control;
- Form a Local Authority Trading Company that generates a profit through delivery of its activities and services.
- Form a Public Service Mutual, no longer under council ownership with employee/the community having some form of ownership;
- Outsourcing it by using a private company that may profit from it;
- A joint venture where an external third party invests money in return for shared ownership or control.
The authority says that, in the wider budget consultation, 74% of people agreed they would “generally prefer to travel to a central location” with a wider range of services available.
They also suggest that volunteers may take over the Home Library Service, which sees people taking books and library stock to housebound people.
Kirklees, which faces government budget cuts, closed two libraries – Thornhill Lees and Lepton – during the last consultation, but 88 jobs were lost and many of the remaining libraries became more reliant on volunteers.
People can share their views on how library services should be run by filling in this questionnaire, which will be available from January 8. (www.kirklees.gov.uk/libraryconsultation.)
The Examiner has asked Kirklees for a comment.