DISCUSSIONS are underway to find potential partners to take over the running of eight previously council-run libraries.

Plans were agreed earlier this month to retain only town and city centre libraries in Houghton-le-Spring, Washington and Sunderland.

But Sunderland City Council left the way open for talks with the voluntary, public and private sectors to oversee the running of the remaining eight library buildings, as community venues.

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These include the library at the Hetton Centre, at Hetton-le-Hole, and Shiney Row Library, on Chester Road.

This approach has already yielded success at the former Hendon library.

The plans were approved following consultation on the future of library services amid council budget cuts.

More than 50 people from groups interested in running library buildings as community venues turned up to an initial meeting to discuss their ideas last week.

Work is now progressing to develop these approaches.

Councillor John Kelly, council cabinet member for culture, said: “We have had expressions of interest from a number of community groups who are interested in running library buildings as community venues which would also offer books and digital library services.

“Following an initial meeting last week, we are going to be working closely with these groups over the next few weeks to help them develop their ideas further.”

Any community group interested in running their local library as a community venue should contact marie.brett@sunderland.gov.uk, for further information.