£300k savings from Sandwell libraries buddy-up
Libraries could buddy-up and share buildings with other organisations in Sandwell such as Job Centres and children's centres in an effort to slash £300,000 out of the budget.
Leisure bosses have announced some libraries in older buildings, or some of the smaller libraries with lower footfall, could be moved out altogether to new locations to cut costs and to allow users to access more services.
The radical move is being investigated by leisure councillor Linda Horton, who says new ways of working must be looked at if the council is to avoid shutting down libraries.
She said: "This is being considered because we've got so many cuts at the moment that we have to look at different ways of providing the service. We would rather have a service in another building than no library at all.
"If we can't afford to have a library in a specific place, we are looking at having it in the same neighbourhood but in a different building. If there's an organisation in that area with a building that we could use, we could look to move the library.
"We are looking across the board at the moment, looking at how services are accessed, the footfall of each place and the building each is in.
"For example if there's a small neighbourhood library without a lot of users we would look at the costs of maintaining the building and of the services, and explore all the options for actually sharing a building with another partner so we could keep that service going."
No specific libraries are being considered for the move as yet, and no time scale has been set for the changes to take place.
Councillor Horton said many of the borough's libraries are already seen as community facilities, with organisations such as the Job Centre and children's care providers already holding services, so she believes any mergers would not be a problem for users.
She added: "The traditionalists are in the minority at the moment – we have communities that want to access more services than just borrowing books.
"We want our libraries to be community hubs."