SOME of the county's libraries could become self-service and staff numbers could be cut as the council looks to save £800,000.

The plan by Worcestershire County Council means some of the county's smaller libraries could become self-service during certain periods of the day meaning visitors would let themselves in and out.

In the recent library consultation, just over 40 per cent of respondents said they would not use an unstaffed library over fears for safety and anti-social behaviour as well as missing the expertise of staff and social interaction.

A third of respondents thought libraries should not be unstaffed during any time in the day.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said the consultation or the future strategy for the council’s library service was “definitely not about closing libraries” but about creating a “modern and forward looking” service that was at the heart of every community.

She said: “This is a process about remodelling our library services here in Worcestershire. It is about looking at how our libraries compliment our corporate priorities. It’s about looking at individual solutions to different libraries.

"It’s about introducing new technologies in some our libraries and using the open plus system.

“It is about looking at staffing levels. It is definitely not about closing libraries.”

Cllr Alan Amos said the council had built a “comprehensive and efficient” library service in recent years and the new measures would not “directly impact” front-line facilities.

Almost 2,000 people replied to the council’s consultation into the future of the library service which the council now plans to use to form a long-term strategy.

The consultation showed strong support for libraries to remain open by sharing facilities with other services and also opposed the idea of making libraries totally volunteer-led.

However, a peer review by the Local Government Association has recommended the council should consider abandoning this plea, promote the use of ‘open’ unstaffed libraries and also look at using single-staffed libraries more.

Almost £4 million has been cut from the library budget since 2011 and the council plans to cut another £800,000 by 2021.

Worcester City Council handed the county council a lifeline by agreeing to cover the £150,000 yearly cost of running both St John’s and Warndon libraries.

The city council money comes from a £250,000 fund put aside to be used for ‘closer collaboration’ between the two authorities.