Stirling Council could close all but one of its 17 libraries in a cost-cutting drive, replacing them with mobile book vans.

In its budget saving proposals for 2023 the local authority says operating 17 libraries and two mobile ones costs it £2.4million per year.

While acknowledging that they are "valued community spaces", the plan states that footfall is significantly down since the pandemic.

Stirling Council has laid out two proposals, one of which would involve closing up to half of public libraries under its control.

While some communities would see theirs replaced with a mobile book van, others would have to travel to the nearest available library.

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It's estimated this proposal would save the authority £400k per year.

The other plan being put forward is to close all public libraries in the Stirling Council area, with the exception of the central library in the City of Stirling, with services replaced by mobile libraries across the council area to save £1.4m.

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) has written to the local authority urging it to "strongly reconsider" before budgets are finalised.

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The body states that footfall has increased in 2022 and 2023, and therefore to make a decision based on number before and after the pandemic "would be deeply unfair".

Concerns have also been raised due to the role libraries play in providing free internet access, the help they provide for job seekers, their role in tackling social isolation and the impact they have on literacy rates.

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While both plans under consideration would mean an increase in mobile libraries, the book vans are not accessible at a time which suits all users and cannot provide the range of services a public library can.

The CILIPS said in a letter to Stirling Council: "It is your legal duty as a Council to provide library services that adequately meet the needs of your community, so any closures should only be undertaken with the support of residents. If changes mean that someone cannot access services in the same way then this could also run counter to the requirements of the Equalities Act, so we would also ask that detailed Equalities and Economic Impact Assessments are undertaken.

"To undertake no meaningful consultation may mean that you have not met your requirements as a Council, and we would ask that you review this urgently. Recently in Aberdeen, a similar number of libraries were closed with no consultation, and this resulted in a legal challenge and a consultation being put in place and similar closure plans in North Lanarkshire were reversed after a political and public backlash.

"How much value a local authority attaches to its public libraries can often be a good indication of how much it values its people. We ask that you take these savings proposals no further and we would be happy to discuss this matter in greater detail should you wish."

A Stirling Council spokesperson said: “Stirling Council faces an estimated budget gap of £13 million in the next financial year, despite making significant savings of around £6 million in the current financial year. This is a situation mirrored at local authorities across Scotland.

“To make up this shortfall, the Council must make some tough decisions, which is why we are undertaking a Big Conversation with residents about how we negotiate this unprecedented financial challenge together.

“The proposals in the online survey are a key part of this engagement process. The survey gives people a chance to tell us the impact of each proposal on them and their community.

“The online survey is our third round of community engagement as part of our Big Conversation with residents on the budget, following drop-in sessions in August and September and current ‘roadshow’ events being held across the area."

“The responses will help inform the difficult decisions to be taken by councillors when the budget is set early next year.”