Birmingham's community libraries could soon be open for just two days a week as the city council aims to meet its £2.3 million budget cut.
The local authority has pledged not to close any of the city’s 39 libraries, despite a 28 per cent cut in the budget.
Instead it is planning to slash their opening hours and reduce staff from182 full time equivalent posts to 155.
Plans to deal with the cuts outlined by the council’s leisure watchdog committee also include:
• Using more self-service check out machines;
• Increasing the number of volunteers, which currently stands at 162;
• Generating more income, such as leasing rooms or putting on paid for events, sharing more buildings with other public services, such as police and health services.
Head of the library service review Chris Jordan said that about 10 per cent of UK libraries are currently under consideration for closure, but there would no closures in Birmingham.
He said: “We have a substantial budget cut which needs to be achieved without closing any of our 39 libraries.
“We therefore have to look at reducing staffing levels, maximising the use of technology, developing co-location of services and amending the opening hours.”
The decision was welcomed by the cross-party committee which agreed that once closed it would be almost impossible to restore a library.
Coun Roger Harmer (Lib Dem, Acocks Green) said: “It’s much better that opening hours are being reduced than libraries closing, even if we have to open libraries on different days and move the staff around.
“As long as the building is there it is much easier to increase the hours and staffing when finances improve.”
The committee was also concerned about the condition of some of the library buildings and called for savings being made on the £187 million Library Of Birmingham in Centenary Square to be poured into repairs and restoration work.
Detailed proposals for the cuts will be put to the council’s ten constituencies, which are responsible for the libraries, next month.