Council could close half of Devon's libraries

Image caption From government support being cut 28 of the 50 public libraries in Devon could be under threat

More than half of Devon's libraries could close under proposals being considered by the county council.

The BBC has obtained a briefing paper listing 28 of the 50 public libraries in Devon where council support is being cut.

Communities will now be asked to take over the running of services, otherwise they will end.

The paper proposes keeping 22 major libraries - to be known as Devon Centres - under council control.

The BBC has been told the libraries will be located in key areas and become "community hubs" - incorporating information technology, adult learning classes, cafes and business support services.

The remaining libraries will receive assistance from the council - in areas like book buying and management support - but communities will be expected to take over much of their running through volunteers.

The library service in Devon has to save another £1.5m due to spending cuts, the briefing paper says, in addition to a £3m cut over the last three years.

Councillor Roger Croad, the Devon County Council lead on libraries. said: "This is not a closure programme, I can absolutely assure you we are committed as a county council to libraries, we think libraries are great.

"We just need to evolve the way we support them and move forward."

But library users have voiced concern, saying they fear losing much loved and important local assets.

Jean Larsson, who attends Bovey Tracey Library, said: "I'd lay down in the road, I wouldn't let them do it. It's very important I think to a lot of people in Bovey, it's a busy library."

A consultation on the proposals will get under way later this month.

People have three months to submit their ideas and views to Devon County Council.

Image caption Bovey Tracey resident Jean Larsson said she would "lay down in the road" if her library closed

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