A PLANNED review of all libraries in the county will not mean closures or redundancies, Shropshire Council has said.

The authority’s cabinet has approved a new draft library strategy setting out a planned overhaul of the service over the next five years, which will now be subject to public consultation.

It includes reviews of all 21 buildings and the mobile library, and could see some libraries co-located with other council services in order to save money.

One of the proposed changes is the roll-out of self-service machines, estimated to reduce face-to-face transactions by a third, while the opening hours of each library is to be tailored to best meet the needs of their communities.

The council hopes the adoption of the new strategy will result in cost savings through freeing up staff time to support ‘Shropshire Local’ customer service points which could be housed in the same buildings.


It is also looking at reducing its current £178,000 annual subsidy to the county’s eight community-run libraries in Albrighton, Bishop’s Castle, Broseley, Craven Arms, Highley, Shifnal, Cleobury Mortimer and Ellesmere.

Speaking at a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday, Councillor Cecilia Motley, cabinet member for communities, culture, leisure, tourism and transport, said: “Libraries do sit at the heart of our communities, and as such they are a huge asset for us.

“Therefore we feel very strongly that we need to make the best use of them that we possibly can.

“We have an opportunity here to really turn our libraries into community hubs.”

Councillor Motley said roles would not be made redundant as a result of the changes. She said: “We appreciate the fact that we are asking our staff to change the way they work, but we are trying to introduce methodologies that will help them to do that particularly the self-service machines.

“They are not intended to displace staff, they are intended to enable staff to actually build up and offer more services to their local communities and we have found that there has been a willingness among staff to consider this.”

Liberal Democrat group leader David Vasmer said he welcomed the strategy overall, but voiced concern that the eight community-run libraries “could be under threat” as a result of losing their council subsidy.

Labour group leader Julia Buckley said the strategy was not transparent. She said: “What we are being presented with here are cuts across the library service, and it’s being presented as though it’s an opportunity.

“I think we have to be honest with the residents of Shropshire. When we are cutting a budget, when we are removing a subsidy, when we are pulling staff, that is a cut, and it’s time to have the courage of your convictions and be honest with your taxpayers as to what you are doing here.”

Councillor Motley said that while the review was partly driven by the need to make savings, it would not see communities deprived of a library service.

She said there would not be a “blanket” approach, and that each library would be considered individually so that its services could be tailored.

Addressing Councillor Vasmer’s concerns about the community-run libraries, Councillor Motley added that these had “been on a reducing scale of support from Shropshire Council” since they were set up around 10 years ago but would not be left “high and dry”.

Cabinet members agreed to put the new strategy out to consultation.