LIBRARIES should cut the number of books they stock by 80 per cent, says a Bournemouth councillor.

It is one of several potentially controversial proposals by Cllr Nick Rose, who believes his scheme will help to preserve the town's libraries.

Cllr Rose, who brought up his plans at a meeting of the borough's community committee earlier this month, is proposing that libraries do more to raise their own funding by becoming hubs for learning and activities - including charging parents for currently free 'wriggle and rhyme' sessions.

And he believes that through relatively small changes, such as introducing coffee shops and room rental, libraries could potentially raise more than £600,000 a year across the town.

"I am a children's author and I have run four businesses for 25 years so I understand how businesses are run and children, mums and books," he said.

"Our libraries are still in the 19th century and the are under threat if they don't change. I believe we can keep them all by bringing them into the 21st century."

Cllr Rose's proposal involves storing less popular books, up to 80 per cent of stock, off site to make room for expanded IT equipment, a coffee shop/café and a soundproofed activities area with a projector and other facilities for hire.

This, he says, could be used for film nights, tutoring, job classes and by clubs potentially outside office hours.

He suggests book covers should be scanned so they can be browsed online or in catalogue form, and that council customer services staff routinely attend libraries so residents can more access them.

Also Cllr Rose, who has written a series of children's books about Myro the Microlight, wants library staff to be paid directly by the public for their services, such as providing 'wriggle and rhyme' sessions for kids.

"I'm well aware this will cause an uproar but parents are happy to pay £3 for this sort of thing everywhere else," he said.

"Using the money we can provide a better service."

Bournemouth's library service has now been merged with that of Borough of Poole as a cost saving measure.

Cllr Rose said he has yet to receive a response to his proposal, initially mooted a year ago, from the borough.

"The leadership is minded to dismiss such input and rely on well-meaning cabinet members who are, in my opinion, in need of a fresh approach," he said.