CONTROVERSIAL changes to the county's libraries may be softened after the council announced it would be reducing the amount it plans to cut over the next three years.

Worcestershire County Council originally planned to slash £1 million from the county's library budget over the next three years but has announced it would now be reducing the cut to £800,000.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, leader of the county council, said no budget was ever cast in stone and the council realised the budget cut was "too high" after speaking with the public.

Cllr Geraghty said the consultation was "not about closing libraries" and was instead about preparing the service for the future.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, has toured the county's 23 libraries in recent months to speak to residents about what they want from their library.

The library consultation ends soon with the results forming a complete reshape of the county's library service.

As part of the changes, many of the county's 'bigger' libraries such as the Hive as well as libraries in Malvern and Evesham are unlikely to be affected.

But many of the other libraries such as St John's in Worcester, Warndon and Upton could all be handed over to district councils and other businesses, made self-service or have its opening hours cut.

The council has not ruled out complete closure but says it would only close libraries as a last resort and hopes to avoid closure by handing over the libraries to district councils and community groups as well as sharing buildings with other public bodies and businesses.

The authority is also open to the idea of making libraries staff-less which means finding and checking out books would become completely self-service.