Libraries could share with cafes as County Hall looks at ways of balancing the books

Lancashire's libraries could share space with cafes

Lancashire's libraries could share space with cafes

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The new age of the coffee bar library may be brewing in Lancashire as part of a plan to protect the service for borrowers.

County Hall chiefs looking for economies have pledged not to shut a single branch down - even if it means books sharing with beverages to save cash.

Radical changes will be introduced over the next three years so the library service can shoulder its share of the economies being demanded by the Government.

But the deputy leader of the Labour-run authority has revealed the plan is to make sure every city, town or village which currently has a library, will still have one in 2018.

“We have got libraries all over the county and our aim over the next three years is to avoid any communities losing theirs,” Coun David Borrow.

“That is different from saying that all libraries will continue in the same place. We are looking at all sorts of possibilities. But we do need to make significant savings.”

Austerity measures mean that the county’s library service will have to be slimmed down, even though the number of branches will remain the same. That could mean some libraries moving into smaller buildings, sharing with other council services or joining forces with local businesses such as cafes.

“We will be looking wherever possible where we own buildings, or district or parish councils own premises, where we can maybe bring together different functions,” explained Coun Borrow.

“It could be a case of fitting things in together to save costs. We may have, in some places, to alter hours of opening and look at other ways of saving money.

“In some libraries we have brought in an electronic system for borrowers to take books out or return them without the need for a member of staff to process them.

“We might be able to see if cafes want to establish themselves in our library buildings and rent the space. We are also looking at increasing the use of volunteers to reduce costs. It is all a bit of an experiment at the moment. But, when we took control from the previous administration, there was a list of suggested library closures. We said that wasn’t the road we wanted to go down. We want to protect our library service as best we can.”