Plans to hand over control of up to 30 Lincolnshire libraries to volunteers have been passed by county council.
In a press release issued this lunchtime, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive councillors are said to have agreed "changes that will make library services more efficient".
Under the plans, up to 40 smaller libraries will be run by their local communities, with the council continuing to staff 15 larger libraries in central locations.
Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for Libraries, said: “So far, we’ve had expressions of interest for 25 existing libraries, as well as seven communities wanting to create brand-new facilities. That means we’re likely to end up with even more static libraries than we started with.
“The council has also extended its deadline for expressions of interest, giving people until the end of January to put in a bid for their local library.”
Communities will receive a comprehensive support package, including more than £5,000 per year to put towards their running costs and ongoing professional advice.
Groups can also get a one-off grant of £15,000 to help set up their facility, with the Council maintaining the exterior of the buildings on which it has the freehold.
In addition, the council will continue to run the existing libraries at reduced hours for up to a year, giving volunteers plenty of time to lay firm foundations for the future.
This "fresh approach" was proposed in the light of an ongoing decline in usage and the need to save £2million per year.
Plans were then revised following a 13-week consultation, with a number of changes made to the original proposals in response to feedback.
Councillor Worth added: “One thing that was clear from the consultation was that rural communities valued their mobile services, so 146 more mobile stops were included in the revised proposals.
“Also, younger people said that they wanted to see online services developed further, so that is something we’re going to explore, and we believe it may be possible to increase the number of computers available in our council-run libraries.
"We realise there were some people who wanted services to remain as they are, but with £2million less to spend that just wasn’t possible.
“However, I’m confident that we can now continue to provide a comprehensive library service across the county, but one that gives much better value for money.
“I’d like to thank all those communities that have offered their support, and I look forward to working with them. I’m sure that together we can create a modern library service that’s tailored to local needs.”
Further information on the plans can be found at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation
Councillor Robin Hunter-Clarke, UKIP's member for Skegness South, said after the decision: "It is unbelievable that nine councillors out of the 77 elected members can decide and make a decision on something so important as our library service throughout our county when the people of Lincolnshire have rejected their proposals.
“It is disgraceful and things cannot continue like this.
“There is a clear democratic deficit which needs to be tackled and people must be made aware of this. The decision should have been made free and fairly by the full council.”