THREE "landmark libraries" are at the heart of a new plan to revamp the service in Barnet, which could see two libraries closed down.

Under the plans revealed today, North Finchley and Friern Barnet libraries would be merged in the artsdepot in North Finchley, with a specialism in the arts.

Hendon and Chipping Barnet will also be classified in the same bracket, with “specialisms” in the arts, higher and further education.

However, Hampstead Garden Suburb will lose its site in Market Place, one of the costliest per visit to run in the borough, with a new partnership instead sought with The Institute to lend books.

The site, which is leased from a private landlord, is described as small and in poor condition in the document, which says more mobile library services will be sent to the area.

Nine leading libraries will have other council and partnership services co-located in them, similar to the Burnt Oak library model, with potential for a new site in the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration area.

Finchley Church End Library could be moved to a new building to provide more community space and work “in conjunction” with the proposed artsdepot site.

Grahame Park library would also be rebuilt under the plans as a link library, to provide a wider range services to cater for the community it serves.

The Child’s Hill area could also get a new link library to replace the Cricklewood Lane facility, with talks recommended with other services to find suitable partners.

Savings outlined in the plans total £1.41 million which includes plans to share back office functions and get rid of three sites, as well as shed 16 staff over three years.

The report suggests money generated from sales of sites at North Finchley and Friern Barnet would be reinvested on the new landmark site at the artsdepot, as well as improvements at the remaining branches.

It states: “It is also widely accepted that the budget constraints are very real and that the status quo is not sustainable.”

Ideas to boost income include renting out library space, online and postal rental of DVDs and books and “premium membership” which would include additional benefits.

The new plans will go out to a second round of public consultation for ten weeks from Monday, April 4, with focus groups and surveys being carried out alongside traditional methods to get “qualitative” feedback.

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