THREE public libraries in East Dunbartonshire are expected to be saved from the axe after new funding was found to keep them alive.

The fate of the libraries - around 40% of the local authority's complement - were discussed on Thursday night as the local authority met to set its budget and how it fills what they say is an almost £8 million shortfall.

In an 11th hour move, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat council administration has agreed £200,000 extra funds for its culture arm, the East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, which operates the library service to stave off any closure.

The Trust board had previously backed moves to shut Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton libraries to save £84,000 as part of cost-cutting plans, raising concerns.

Now the 11-man board, five of which are councillors, are now expected to revisit their decision.

HeraldScotland:

But Ann Davie, East Dunbartonshire Council's deputy chief executive for education, people and business has said the money would "mitigate any potential closure of its small libraries".

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) were among those who had urged the council not to take the option forward, saying: "We believe this may affect the local community’s ability to access an adequate public library service as required by the Local Government Act."

The decision comes two weeks after Aberdeen City Council scrapped plans to shut 16 of its 17 libraries to save £863,000 in a bid to make ends meet, in a move criticised by many locals.

The council had previously agreed 3.95 per cent rise in council tax bills.

READ MORE: Bid to save three public libraries in East Dunbartonshire that are facing the axe

The council’s latest funding package from the Scottish Government factored in a 3% increase, and local authority had said its budget funding gap threatened to grow to more than £41m over five years.

Joint council leader Andrew Polson said: "Our funding gap is in the context of over £87 million pounds being removed from our budget over the last 10 years and our medium-term financial planning projections show that between this coming financial year and 2023 a further £41 million pounds in savings will be required.

"Balancing the budget is a real challenge.

"However, in addition to bridging our funding gap, through efficiencies and cost reduction actions we have also incorporated an additional £200 thousand in transitional funding for the EDLC Trust, in part to support a review of cultural services in partnership with the Council, to include main and small libraries."

HeraldScotland:

CILIPS had earlier told the council in a letter: " A public library service makes an important contribution to national outcomes such as reducing inequality and improving literacy as well as providing a positive experience for local people and demonstrating the value a local authority places on its community.

"Libraries tackle social isolation and support mental health and wellbeing as evidenced by the Scottish Government. Libraries also play a key role in supporting the current digital strategies in Scotland and across the UK by providing free access for people unable to get online at home."

Measures to address the council's funding gap include  increasing fees and charges by 4%, which would affect school meals and burials,  to deliver additional income of just over £283,000 pounds and the introduction of on-street parking charge "in appropriate locations in town centres"  

The council also plan to make annual savings of £825,000 through a strategic review of Homecare Services, £275,000  through cuts to spending on school support services and £150,000 through a 'rationalisation' of children and families services.

It aims to save a further saving of £300,000 by rolling out a system of using private contractors for Health and Social Care Partnership services, which would mean paying for work based on actual time spent with clients rather than through advance commissioning.