A NEW public consultation has been launched over the future of the district’s libraries service.

Bradford Council is seeking people’s views on how they want to see Keighley Library and others evolve in the years ahead.

The council said a consultation exercise held over the past 12 months had been a huge success, with more than 3,000 responses received.

But it added that the current model for libraries on its own was “not financially sustainable” in the long term.

Last year Bradford Council announced it would be cutting its libraries service budget by £1.05 million, raising concerns that provision would be decimated.

There was a huge backlash against the cuts plans and a number of strikes involving library staff were held, including action in Keighley.

But late last year the authority revealed that it would use £700,000 from its public health budget to support the service – making the cuts less severe than originally feared.

Now people have until March 15 to comment on the future shape of provision.

The council says that as well as offering traditional library services, any future provision should include “improving health outcomes, tackling poverty, addressing social isolation, assisting people back into employment and helping with school readiness”.

It has dismissed as “rumour” claims that the Keighley site could house a ‘health hub’, adding there are currently no concrete plans for how the libraries will change.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, executive member for healthy people and places, said: “We know how important libraries are to our communities and we have listened very carefully to all the views we have received from residents, staff and other stakeholders over the past 12 months.

“The funding from public health allows us to maintain our existing library offer and residents will still be able to access a local library in future. However, we still face the reality of years of cuts and cannot afford for the service to stand still and continue to operate in its current form.

“The changes we are proposing build on many of the things libraries already provide in terms of delivering wider council priorities, for instance, improving the health and wellbeing of residents.

“We will continue talking and listening to residents and our aim for the future is to provide a libraries service which meets the specific local needs of each community we serve.”

A series of drop-in sessions is planned as part of the consultation, including an event at Keighley Library – in North Street – on Wednesday, February 26, between 10.30am and 12.30pm. People can also learn more about the consultation and give their views at bradford.gov.uk/media/5711/librariesconsultationdocument.pdf.