�80,000 refurb plan for Sidbury Library

Sidmouth Library among six in county set to have self-service technology installed

SIDMOUTH’S library is among six in Devon set to be re-furbished and have self-service technology installed.

While some authorities across the UK have chosen to close libraries to cut costs, Devon County Council says it is committed to keeping its 50 libraries open and is continuing a �10 million programme of investment to improve the service.

Some �80,000 has been set aside this financial year for the work at Sidmouth, says DCC, which had more than 8,000 people respond to its public consultation over libraries.

Doctors at adjoining Blackmore Health Centre are desperate for larger premises and want to expand to the library site, building a state-of-the-art health centre on the whole area, and see the library re-located.

A DCC spokesman said: “We have a programme to introduce self-service machines in a number of our libraries, including Sidmouth.

“As part of that project, for which we have allocated up to �80,000, we would also need to make some internal improvements and small changes to the layout.

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“We do not see this work affecting at all discussions with NHS Devon about the health centre.”

Next week county councillors should confirm the latest libraries to be part of a multi-million pound investment programme.

They will also discuss the revision of opening hours at each centre to fit in with patterns of use at each library.

This will mean opening hours in some areas will be reduced and staffing efficiencies will be introduced to save up to �850,000 in a year.

With a reduction of managers planned, those in charge, such as Gill Spence at Sidmouth, face applying for new roles.

DCC’s cabinet member for libraries, Cllr Roger Croad said: “We are committed to keeping our libraries open…However savings do have to be made, which is why we already taking necessary steps to minimise costs where we can, including a review of our current opening hours.

“Where libraries will see reduced opening hours, we will implement timetables to reflect when most people use them.”

The council will publish revised opening times in coming months, and the new hours will be phased in gradually from this September to March 2012.