Council bosses have given the go-ahead for a public consultation into their plans for a shake-up of the borough’s library service.
The decision was made at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s cabinet and the process will run from June to August.
Under the plans community groups would take over the running of Whitburn, East Boldon and the Boldon Lane and Primrose library in South Shields.
The Word in South Shields, Hebburn Central, Jarrow Hub and the Cleadon Park centre will serve as “multi-service hubs”.
Coun Alan Kerr, lead member for culture and leisure at South Tyneside Council said: “The way that people use our libraries is changing and we must change with them.
“We are committed to delivering an affordable, sustainable, modern and efficient library service that meets the changing needs of our residents.
“We have come up with some proposals about what the borough’s library service could look like in the future and would like to hear what people think, or indeed, any alterative suggestions they may have.
“I’d encourage people to tell us what they think when the consultation opens in June.”
He added: “One thing is clear - any organisation losing almost 50% of its funding cannot afford to maintain the status quo.
“These funding cuts are set to continue and we must do all we can to protect vital services by delivering them in the most cost effective way. We appreciate that this is an unsettling time for our staff and service users.
“Discussions with trade unions and staff are ongoing and will continue with all parties affected throughout the consultation process.”
UNISON have hit out at the plans and say they will go into libraries to gather opinions.
Branch secretary Jan Green said: “We are aware of the cabinet decision and need to see what strategy the council have in place on carrying out the public consultation.”