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Proposals to centralise customer services but retain county libraries

From The Hereford Times - click here....!

 Council customer services could be centralised in Hereford and Belmont library could be run by the community under new proposals.

The future of the library service in the county will be discussed at Herefordshire Council's cabinet on Thursday in light of budget pressures- the council needs to save £760,000 of a £1.8m budget.

The proposals include retaining the library service in Hereford city and the five market towns.

But forming a centralised face to face customer service in Hereford city, supported by improved online access.

The recommendation also wants Belmont library to be run by a community group and for HALO to provide the operational delivery of Bromyard's library.

Clare Llewellyn West, chair of Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries, said ultimately they do not want any further cuts to the library service in the county.

She said: "The withdrawal of customer services to Hereford means that many will either have to travel to Hereford (with severely limited public transport) or use their local library to get support and online access to deal with council related matters.

"This means that there will need to be sufficient staffing in the libraries to meet their needs."

She added that Belmont is probably small enough to become a volunteer library once the Broad Street building is reopened but that it must be supported by a core professional library team.

The proposal also wants to remodel the county library service, retaining delivered library and schools library services with a view to achieving more integrated and efficient delivery.

Subject to council approval of the capital programme, the report proposes £133,000 investment in equipment and remodelling of existing premises to provide more efficient utilisation of space and increased access to online payment facilities.

Clare added: "It is good to see some small investment tabled which will help make the new approach more effective."

In 2015 to16 (March to April) libraries in Herefordshire received more than 500,000 physical visits and loaned out more than 511,000 items.

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