COMMUNITIES have been urged to "fight for our local libraries and librarians" as the extent of a North Ayrshire Council 're-design' of the service has been revealed.

A source has claimed that proposals rubber-stamped at the authority's budget meeting in February will see the vital service slashed.

Papers for that crunch meeting said library opening hours would be cut by 20 per cent - a move which, alongside a planned 're-design' of the area's school library service, will save £450,000 during the current financial year.

It was expected that the two 're-designs' would lead to the loss of the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 9.5 posts on the council's payroll.

READ MORE: North Ayrshire Council agree on budget for 2024/25

Our source said: "North Ayrshire Council have recently announced to library employees that they're cutting library hours and jobs.

"Library employees all have to reapply for their jobs, and there will not be enough jobs to go round, so many redundancies are on the cards.

"Librarians are so scared for their jobs. All staff have been strictly warned not to tell the public until after the redundancies, when it's too late to stop anything."

It is understood that some local libraries will see the cuts in their hours run deeper than others.

READ MORE: Campaigners' pressure sees North Ayrshire pause school library cuts - for now

Our source claims that the current plan is to shut the library in Fairlie altogether and to significantly cut back on both staff numbers and opening hours at the facility in West Kilbride.

Irvine Times: Fairlie Library could close completely as part of the plans.Fairlie Library could close completely as part of the plans. (Image: Thomas Nugent/Geograph)

It's also understood that some libraries that are currently open for four full days each week, and every Saturday morning, will have their hours reduced to just two full days along with every second Saturday morning.

Similar discussions are expected around Garnock Valley libraries though no further detail was provided at this stage.

Together with reduction in staffing resources, it is expected that the service could face extreme challenges.

If local community that use the library were aware I know they'd put up a huge fight for their local library and librarians.

The source continued: "It would be impossible to continue to serve the current number of people on reduced hours and reduced staff.

"North Ayrshire is a pretty deprived area, and libraries are so heavily used for school visits, groups from cancer support to craft groups to free baby/kids classes.

"From schoolkids to elderly people, there's always people in for the free hot drink and heated safe space in the winter, advice and signposting for benefits support, computer support, literacy and general company and a friendly face.

"It's such a vital hub for the community. The council are clearly trying to shut it down all together as they've consistently reduced services over the past few years."

They added: "Staff are so scared to speak out because they fear for their jobs, but if local community that use the library were aware, I know they'd put up a huge fight for their local library and librarians."

We put our source's concerns to North Ayrshire Council, who said engagement is taking place with relevant parties to inform their decisions.

It is understood that factors such as current hours, ease of access to alternative resources and in particular staff rotas, where one member of staff covers two libraries, have driven the decisions to reduce hours in some places more than others.

The authority says there will be no enforced redundancies.

READ MORE: Around 100 staff volunteer to leave North Ayrshire Council

A spokesperson said: “We are currently engaging with the affected staff and also listening to a range of stakeholders.

"These discussions will inform our final decision and how we propose to make the necessary changes and redesign of our library service. We will provide full details when this process is complete.

“As per council policy, there are no proposed redundancies. North Ayrshire Council has a policy of no compulsory redundancies.

"Staff will have several options open to them, including moving into one of the new posts, redeployment or voluntary early release.

"We will be supporting employees throughout."

The council says library buildings will remain available for use by community groups, even outside the new opening hours.

The spokesperson continued: “Whilst the times that our libraries will be open and staffed will be reduced we will continue to work with key stakeholders, partners and community groups to make use of the asset whilst we are not open to the public.

"This already happens across the library service, and ensures that partners and the local community can use the asset to best meet local needs and are not tied by staff availability to open up.“