BOURNEMOUTH will get libraries “fit for the 21st century” and at a reduced cost, councillors have promised.

A comprehensive review of the town’s libraries service has recommended the retention of all 12 libraries, along with the home library service.

Cabinet members unanimously agreed the proposals, which will see £1.7million of savings and extra income made over the next seven years.

This will be raised by increasing income through premises hire, fees and charges, staff restructuring by merging responsibilities and freezing vacant posts, reducing the annual stock budget and reducing printing, stationery and furniture costs.

Councillors also agreed to explore options for improving the library service in the future, including sharing library buildings with other information and advice agencies, reviewing opening hours, installing public Wi-Fi, using digital technology to promote the library service, installing coffee bars and drinks machines in some libraries and hiring out space for exhibitions and meetings.

Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for corporate policy implementation, said: “I can’t emphasise enough that this is a paper which recommends libraries for the future, well into the 21st century.”

And Cllr Michael Weinhonig said: “There is huge enthusiasm for hub working with the police and other partners.

“The future for libraries is, quite honestly, looking really exciting.”

He said library staff and volunteers already provided an excellent service, helping deal with enquiries on everything from council housing to benefit claims.

“This core service transformation adds value but you can’t put a price on the value added by the libraries to this council,” he said.