A PLAN to slash almost £1 million from Sandwell’s libraries budget over the next three years has gone out to public consultation.

Leisure services cabinet member Councillor Linda Horton has given the go-ahead for various groups to be consulted on the proposals which seek to cut costs in a number of ways - including replacing librarians with volunteers.

The Library Innovation and Evaluation Plan states that voluntary staff would be used to deliver core services for the first time, but libraries would not be handed “wholesale” to them and they would be trained and supported.

It also proposes the further introduction of self-service kiosks which allows a reduction of between half and one full time librarian per library.

The document does not spell out how many volunteers would be taken on or how many jobs would be shed.

Proposals also include extending the practice of libraries sharing buildings with other organisations including children’s centres.

Already, the new Oldbury Library is part of Jack Judge House, containing council offices and the new Blackheath Library is in a building shared with the Black Country Housing Association.

The consultation period will run until October, the results of which will be reported back to Cllr Horton in November.