Kingston Council will spend £500,000 upgrading all seven of the borough’s libraries to create a “modern and dynamic” service.
Work has already begun on Kingston Library, with council officials pointing to increasing visitor numbers compared to figures across the country as reasoning for the upgrade.
Self-service machines will replace the front desk at all seven libraries, which the council said will free up staff to promote “reading, listening and discovery” services.
Cllr Andrea Craig, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, said: “There are really exciting changes ahead that we will see our libraries transformed into welcoming, dynamic, spaces, capable of supporting a wide range of activities and users.
“At a time when other areas are seeing their library services diminish, Kingston's is thriving.
“Our residents continue to be avid book readers and borrowers; investing in a modern library service means we can continue to support their needs.”
In 2015 to 2016, the borough’s libraries welcomed 550,000 visitors, while online transactions rose to 110,000.
But the council has come under some criticism for spending £500,000 to upgrade libraries while other services are being cut.
Last month the council voted to increase the costs of adult care contributions, meaning elderly and disabled adults will now have to pay all their leftover funds towards social care.
Cllr Liz Green, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “The libraries are all vitally important but that seems like an awful amount of money when we don’t have it.
“You are spending on a refurbishment of the libraries, you are spending it on a live streaming system. I think it’s important accessible, but it’s not the time to be doing it.
“It’s certainly not in my mind the same priorities I would have.”
Kingston Library is scheduled to reopen in Spring next year.
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