LIBRARY users have been told to ‘use it or lose it’ by the county council as the authority needs to save £800,000.

The future of some of Worcestershire’s smaller libraries such as Bromsgrove and Catshill libraries hangs in the balance after the county council has announced it will launch a consultation into the whole shape and size of the library structure.

While bigger libraries are unlikely to change, most of the county’s libraries could be facing closure if their need is not proved.

In preparation for the consultation, Worcestershire County Council has looked at every library in the county and says it would work with local communities to find a "local solution".

The council says it would only close the library as a very last resort and hopes to avoid closure by handing over the libraries to district councils and community groups as well as sharing buildings with other public bodies and businesses.

The authority is also open to the idea of making libraries staff-less which means finding and checking out books would become completely self-service and would also allow for the library to stay open longer.

No changes would be made to the county's mobile library service which currently serves around 160 villages across the county and delivers books to those who cannot travel to a library.

Whilst most of the libraries are run by hundreds of volunteers, the county council still employs 100 people in its libraries.

It said no redundancies are planned but as most of the council library budget is spent on paying staff, it must look at reducing its staffing budget to make savings.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, county council cabinet member for communities, said: "The role of libraries within local communities has been changing now for over a decade.

"A lot of good work has already been done to get communities in Worcestershire more involved so that services at local libraries can be sustained for the benefit of everyone.

"It's more important than ever before that communities come together and get more involved to ensure provision can be maintained at libraries.

"We also need to look at more co-location of libraries and sharing space with other organisations so services remain at the heart of our communities."

If a report into the county’s libraries is approved by the county council’s cabinet on October 18, a 90-day public consultation will be launched at the end of the month to look at who is using libraries in Worcestershire and for what for.

A final decision on the structure of the county’s libraries will most likely be made in spring 2019.

The county council is required by law to provide a library service but the authority says no guidelines are available which show what the service should look like – including how many libraries it must run.