People from across the borough have expressed concerns over the future of Barnet’s libraries.

Options have been laid out to help the council save £8million, which include closing libraries, reducing their size and making greater use of volunteers. 

Last week, the trade union Unison expressed concerns over the future of the library service.

Alasdair Hill, 29, who lives in Daws Lane, Mill Hill, said the proposals were “deeply worrying”.

He added: “As a father to a young daughter I use the library frequently for services that go beyond books. Libraries are vital hubs in the community that provide many amenities including play events for toddlers, internet access to local citizens and a place to study for our pupils and students.

“By ripping out these essential public spaces we risk destroying what little fabric that binds us together we have left in Barnet’s communities.”

Godfrey Manning, who lives in The Drive, Edgware, said he was concerned about the future of his nearest library.

Dr Manning volunteers to teach older people how to use computers, and said it was “mistaken” to suggest existing services can be replaced with an online version, as a lot of people do not know how to use a computer, or cannot afford one of their own.

He added: “My experience is that this section of the community finds it a genuine struggle and many of those who have attempted to start using a computer have chosen to drop out of the mentoring group, since they will simply never be able to grasp the intricacies and skills required.

“Libraries are not to be tampered with, but represent an essential service and focal point in the community and must be preserved intact.”

Adele Winston, who lives in Wood Street, Barnet, also expressed concern.

She said: “l believe that leaving the running of libraries to volunteers - that is, amateurs - displays an ignorance of the job that librarians are trained to do. It is a philistine attitude and hard to understand at a time when we are being bombarded with statistics showing that our children are becoming increasingly illiterate.”

Councillor Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, said: “Members of both parties have accepted that the children’s committee must deliver £8m of savings and the library service has to contribute its share to these savings.

“I am pleased that in option one we have a proposal that keeps all of Barnet’s libraries open and even extends opening hours by 50 per cent. We have no intention of closing libraries, so this is definitely my preferred option.

“I encourage residents to respond to the consultation to help shape the future of Barnet’s libraries, but when doing so to keep in mind the financial context in which we have to work.”

The future of the library service will be discussed at the children’s, education, libraries and safeguarding committee tomorrow evening at Hendon town hall.