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Somerset libraries could share space with other services

By WG_Yeovil  |  Posted: December 05, 2012

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Community hubs which house a number of public services could be rolled out across Somerset, councillors heard yesterday.

Somerset County Council's scrutiny committee heard proposals for a new strategy for the county's libraries which could see a series of community hubs set up and more money spent on books.

The proposals, which the council claims are supported by campaign group Friends of Somerset Libraries (FOSL), follow a review of the library service. The authority hopes it could save the taxpayer more than £860,000 over three years.

Chairman of FOSL Peter Murphy said the review of the library service had been a "thorough" piece of work. He added: "I am pleased the Friends have engaged with this review and I would say that the engagement has been constructive on both sides."

Committee members discussed setting up pilot schemes where public services would share space in libraries, or communities could have a greater say in how their libraries are run.

The council also claims it plans to spend more money on library books - an extra £250,000 more than the current £200,000 over the next two years.

David Hall, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, said there is a huge number of people across Somerset willing to become more involved with supporting their libraries, and he wanted to encourage more people to come forward.

He said: "We are living in tight financial times and we should not lose sight of that.

"I believe this strategy will both save money and create a library service fit for the future. I am grateful for the involvement of all those people who have taken the trouble to come forward and be part of this work.

"The library service is important and that is why I fully support the proposal to invest an extra £250,000 into the book fund to meet the public's demand for the latest books."

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