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Shake-up is on the cards for libraries

Users of the Capital's smallest libraries could soon have little more to choose from than the adventures of Rebus, Harry Potter and other bestsellers.

A mass shake-up of the city's libraries has been ordered, with small local branches only to stock blockbusters and the most popular non-fiction, plus a limited collection of local history materials and just two newspapers a day.

Opposition councillors attacked the plan as a dumbing down of the Capital's libraries.

Audiobooks will continue to be stocked, but CDs will be phased out across all branches - except for the Music Library - as council bosses say music is readily available through alternative providers, like iTunes.

The massive changes come at the same time as separate proposals by council officials would see the opening hours of all but the biggest of the 26 city libraries being drastically reduced, with many only opening at peak times.

At least one library could also close and the number of staff employed by the library service is expected to reduce by more than a fifth by 2012/13.

Councillor Gordon Munro, spokesman for culture and leisure for the Labour group on the council, said: "The changes to what books are stocked could lead to a popular dumbing down of the service.

"Edinburgh was proud to become the first UNESCO City of Literature yet, on the other hand, we are looking to reduce the offer to our citizens."

John Ross, service conditions convener at trade union Unison, said: "We were given no indication they would be going down this path.

"The last dialogue I had with senior management was looking at increasing opening hours and expanding the service."

City chiefs say any books no longer to be stocked in the local libraries would be moved to larger facilities, with users able to order them from their local library. There are not any plans to reduce the number of books being bought by the service.

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city's culture and leisure leader, said: "In these difficult economic times, it's crucial our libraries service makes the best possible use of its resources.

"The culture and leisure committee unanimously agreed the city's first ever stock policy, drafted in consultation with library members and staff, to ensure that people know exactly what to expect from each different type of library."

In response to claims of dumbing down, she added: "This is nonsense. We are in fact improving the service by tailoring libraries' stock to better meet the communities' needs."

 
 
 

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