Go-ahead urged for talks over libraries

Controversial plans to close 20 libraries across Leeds will be discussed by councillors next Wednesday.

Members of the council's executive board are being asked to give the go-ahead for consultation with residents on possible changes which would see some libraries open for longer and some closed and replaced by mobile facilities.

Leeds has 53 libraries, which had four million visits in 2009-10. Of those, 1.5 million visits were to four libraries and 2.8 million visits were made to 13 libraries.

Twenty libraries received a total of just 132,000 visits in 12 months and are now facing possible closure, although communities are rallying to defend them.

Opening hours at some libraries would be extended under the proposals.

The executive board member with responsibility for libraries, Coun Adam Ogilvie said: "This consultation is all about giving the people of Leeds the chance to tell us what kind of library service they want.

"I would like to make it clear that nothing has been decided – this is the start of the debate and the chance for everyone to let us have their views.

"The key factor behind this consultation is the need to modernise the service and offer residents improved access to a range of services which reflects the fact people are increasingly accessing library services without even physically needing to visit a library building."

He added: "The key to the success of any change is that it is what people want, so should the consultation go ahead it is absolutely vital residents tell us what they think."

Libraries under threat are Allerton Bywater, Cow Close in Farnley, Kirkstall, Rawdon, Swarcliffe, Armley Heights, Drighlington, Lofthouse, Richmond Hill, Swillington, Belle Isle, Holbeck, Methley, Scholes, Swinnow, Broad Lane, Ireland Wood, Osmondthorpe, Shadwell and Whinmoor.

A 10-week consultation period is planned for the proposals.