THIRTY-eight public libraries will see their opening hours cut from January 2.

Facing cuts of nearly £190m, Durham County Council’s cabinet voted in July to reduce opening times to 36 hours a week at 11 town centre libraries and 20 hours a week at 27 community libraries.

More recently, officials have been asking borrowers how hours at their local library should be cut.

Now council chiefs have announced that those changes will come into force on Wednesday, January 2.

The mobile library service will also be reduced, so vehicles will only stop at communities more than three miles from a library building; and only once in each community.

The council’s Labour leaders say the changes will save nearly £1.5m a year and stop any libraries closing.

Councillor Maria Plews, cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “These changes are necessary if we are to make the savings required of us.

“I am pleased that we have been able to involve uses of the library service throughout the process, both in influencing our overall strategy and in deciding on specific opening times for their local facility.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes said his party had offered ways of paying to keep libraries open longer, including cutting the cost of councillors and directors, and these had been ignored by Labour.

Further information on the new library opening times, mobile library routes and more is available online at