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Libraries and community facilities to share space

The Local Government Association and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council have proposed that libraries be integrated with community facilities to save space. The move could stop up to 400 libraries being closed due to cuts.

Health centres, police surgeries and churches could be combined with libraries to save space and money, whilst still providing for the community. The report also suggests that readers would have a more active role in running the services. Volunteers being used to help professional staff, as well as self-service borrowing, are also measures to help libraries stay open.

Councillor Chris White, chairman of the Local Government Association's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: "By breaking down the barriers of tradition, councils are bringing libraries into the 21st century and meeting the needs of a new generation of library users.

"The best libraries are at the heart of councils' approaches to everything from lifelong learning to wellbeing, job seeking, volunteering, education and encouraging more people to get online."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Across England, councillors and managers are working to develop plans that will meet their community's changing needs while balancing budget pressures.

"The Future Libraries Programme has shone a spotlight on excellent examples of innovation and creative partnership working. It will be a hugely useful resource, inspiring local authorities to emulate the best ideas to provide a first-rate library service."

The scheme is currently being piloted in 36 councils and the report states that it is
"important to track implementation in these projects if we are to confirm that the proposals work and actually improve efficiency and effectiveness and it could be a number of years before a final judgement can be made on this".

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