SIX of Reading's seven libraries could be subject to shorter opening hours if a proposal is accepted by the council next week.

Opening hours at Central, Caversham, Battle, Tilehurst, Palmer Park and Whitley libraries could be cut by as many as 10 hours under the new proposals, which could contribute to an estimated saving of £217,000.

Battle and Tilehurst Libraries could also be opened up to share space with external organisations, allowing the libraries to be single staffed.

The biggest change could be seen at Palmer Park Library, which would scrap evening and weekend openings, but allow for daytime opening during school holidays.

The council is also considering reducing the libraries' stock by around 30 per cent to reflect the lower levels of usage.

Under the proposals, the libraries' opening hours would reduce by:

  • Central: 46 hours to 36 hours per week
  • Caversham: 35 hours to 27 hours per week
  • Battle and Tilehurst: 27 hours to 22 hours per week
  • Palmer Park: 21 to 15 hours per week
  • Whitley: 21 to 18 hours per week.

If the proposals are agreed in principle by the Policy Committee on February 19, a public consultation will follow.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture and Sport, said: “These are the second set of major savings to library services in Reading in two years, but unlike many local authorities’ areas, we are not proposing to shut any of the seven branches. 

“We know that people who use libraries continue to value them. Our approach is to keep all branches open by making the best possible use of limited resources. As well as the obvious reduction in opening hours, the proposals include making better use of space by allowing external organisations or community groups to use Battle or Tilehurst. 

“None of these decisions are easy but the reality is that for as long as the Government does not properly fund services like adults’ and children’s social care, it is services like libraries which will face the brunt of the cuts. That is the picture across the whole country.”