TWO of the borough’s libraries are set to be relocated as the council looks to combine the Southcote and Whitley branches with community centres.
The move is part of a proposed package of cuts to the sector which if approved would see reduced opening hours across the board.
Councillors have pledged there will be no break in service during transition and said the scheme was designed to help avoid future library closures.
It comes as part of a wider initiative to make better use of publicly-owned buildings and combine multiple services into a series of community hubs after the council saw its funding slashed.
Southcote Library would be moved into the nearby community centre in Coronation Square and Whitley Library transferred into the South Reading Youth and Community Centre in Northumberland Avenue.
Palmer Park Library also faces possible relocation as well as a review of how the popular toy library – currently based in Southcote – could be provided in a cheaper way.
Last year Reading Borough Council said it needed to shave around £600,000 off what it spends on libraries and began the first stage of consulting with residents.
Today it was revealed that among the plans - which could save just under half of that total - two sites would be relocated to other council-owned buildings in the area.
Staff cutbacks, a reduction of almost 100 hours in opening times across the borough’s seven locations and more self-serve kiosks are also being recommended in the money-saving plans.
Councillor Paul Gittings, lead member for culture and sport, said: “These proposals are about prioritising limited resources where they will have the most impact – something every local authority is having to consider in the face of on-going cuts in government funding.
“We know that many councils have already been forced to shut libraries. In Reading, the proposal is to maintain a service offer in every branch area which reflects the extent to which libraries are used.”
He added: “We cannot afford to keep some libraries open all day, every day, and some are better used than others.
“We are determined however – through this consultation process – to identify opening hours which reflect when people visit their local branch.”
If agreed on the plans will be put forward in a second public consultation before any of the ideas come into effect.
Among the suggestions are reducing weekly library hours by the following:
Central, 52.5 hours down to 46.5 hours
Caversham, 50.5 hours down to 35 hours
Battle, 39.5 hours down to 28 hours
Southcote, 33.5 hours down to 20 hours
Whitley, 34.5 hours down to 20 hours
Tilehurst, 42 hours down to 28 hours
Palmer Park, 41.5 hours down to 20 hours
The proposals will be formally discussed by the council’s policy committee on February 15 and the full plans can be viewed online at www.reading.gov.uk/article/4791/Policy-Committee-15-FEB-2016