Residents and councillors have given a mixed reaction to council bosses looking for community groups to take over some of the borough’s libraries.
As part of a planned shake-up of the service, South Tyneside Council announced that it wants local people or groups to come forward and take over the running of the four branch libraries on a voluntary basis.
The buildings involved at the libraries in Whitburn, East Boldon and the Boldon Lane and Primrose libraries in South Shields.
The council plans to focus its library services at four multi-service ‘hubs’ - The Word, in South Shields, Hebburn Central, Jarrow Hub and the Cleadon Park centre.
The plan comes as the council says it is facing ‘unprecedented financial pressures’ and is looking at providing quality services with the resources it has available.
The Labour councillor for Whiteleas, Coun Ernest Gibson, said such measures are required to continue with the service in the face of reduced funding.
He said: “Libraries will have to change because of the economic climate. We have got to look at making savings but also still provide a service.
“At the end of the day we are still providing a service but we have to look at different ways to do it.”
He added: “People will be disappointed but you have to look at the realities of it.
“I think communities running some libraries can be a good thing and it could be effective.”
Readers have reacted with disappointment to the plan.
Vivienne Hinds said: “So if they have no money to fund libraries why did we pay millions for The Word.
“Why didn’t Shields just keep what it had instead?”
Helen Hudson added: “Massive shame.”
The strategy will be considered by South Tyneside Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday.
If approved, a public consultation on the council’s proposals will run from June until August 2017.