THE county council is considering whether to axe the long-running schools’ library service, with interest dwindling in recent years.

Worcestershire County Council has opened a consultation regarding the future of the service which will close on September 1.

The total number of schools buying into the service, running since 1933, has fallen by around 76 per cent since 2000 – with only 52 schools currently signed up to it.

The service helps schools to manage and organise their libraries and resources, as well as providing books on loan, including through mobile libraries.

“We contacted all the schools, we tried to see if they were engaging with the service, but very few schools responded,” said Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities.

“We tried to say you need to use it or lose it, but unfortunately not enough schools responded.

“Hence why we are now looking to see what other options are available for the future – sourcing books from the local libraries near to the schools, for example.”

Cllr Hodgson reiterated that the decision to stop the service is far from a done deal but rather the council is “considering it as an option”.

“It’s costing us money. With all the other pressures in the library service we can’t afford to subsidise the schools’ library service.”

A large part of the service sees schools borrowing books for a set period rather than having to purchase them outright.

For example, a typical primary school can spend £2,833 with the service, yet receive £15,014 worth of book stock, according to the council’s website.

Cllr Hodgson continued: “The schools who do use it have seen a benefit, but I think most them are doing things differently and we are having to embrace the modern world.

“Either there is not the demand for the physical book like there used to be – technology has moved on a lot in 18 years – or schools are looking for funding elsewhere.

“There weren’t the number of academies that there are now and schools have choices.”

She said interest in the service has seen a “gradual decline but has become more noticeable recently”.

“Our library numbers have been fairly buoyant but it’s provision in schools where we are looking at doing things differently. Main library services are having to pay for it and it’s essentially no different to the main library service.”