Fifteen libraries in Somerset are threatened with closure, following a six month consultation process.
The council is withdrawing funding for the following libraries: Bishops Lydeard, Bruton, Castle Cary, Highbridge, Milborne Port, Nether Stowey, North Petherton, Porlock, Priorswood, Somerton, Street, South Petherton, Sunningdale, Watchet and Wiveliscombe.
The council hopes that many of these libraries will aim to develop "Community Library Partnerships" where communities would support library buildings in partnership with the local authority. Porlock, for example, already has a community library partnership in place.
Where this proves impossible, library buildings would close and an alternative means of delivering library services to communities - like mobile library stops would be implemented.
There will be no change to nineteen existing libraries: Bridgwater town centre, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Cheddar, Crewkerne, Dulverton, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilminster, Langport, Martock, Minehead, Shepton Mallet, Taunton town centre, Wellington, Wells, Williton, Wincanton and Yeovil town centre.
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries at Somerset County Council, said:
“Many people told us they would prefer no changes to our libraries service, however staying the same is not an option if we are to put the libraries service on a sustainable footing for the future.
“This is a once in a generation review. The network of library buildings in Somerset has remained unchanged for around 40 years. We have to modernise library services and re-design them to meet local needs more effectively. We need to strike the right balance of delivering a thriving, dynamic and comprehensive library service, which meets our statutory obligations, whilst living within our financial means.”
The 15 communities which are affected by the recommendations are now invited to submit a Community Library Partnership Expression of Interest by midday on 15 November. If unable to agree library buildings could start to close from early 2019.