SOME of the town libraries could open for longer from the summer.

Despite deep cuts in Swindon Council’s budget, it has announced it will keep four of its largest libraries running for up to 14 hours more each week.

Coun Fionuala Foley (Con, Old Town), pictured, the cabinet member in charge of leisure, said they had managed to find the money by axing two library managers, and making some behind the scenes changes.

But she said they will not cut the number of books they buy or staff pay in order to make the changes, which are expected to begin in July.

She also said some mini-libraries could be in community shops, which would be supplied by the mobile library.

Asked if the fact that the libraries are now able to open for longer with less money meant that they were not being run very efficiently before she said: “It’s our officers rising to the challenge, doing things differently and taking on more pressure.

“To extend the service, there are fewer managers doing more work.

“I’d congratulate them, because they’re rising to the challenge that’s facing us: Reducing money, but wanting to ensure we have a library service fit for the 21st century.”

And the move has received a warm welcome from residents.

Keith Smith, 66, the chairman of the Highworth Community Partnership, said the Highworth library – one of the those getting its hours boosted – was integral to the community.

“It’s fantastic news,” he said.“We’re delighted they’re extending the hours and we’ll give them any support they need.

“It’s always busy. I’m in there on Wednesday mornings and out of 16 computers 14 of them are taken.

“It’s the same if you go in there after school. It’s a busy place.”

The four libraries to open longer are: West Swindon library, an extra eight and a half hours a week; North Swindon library – an extra 10 hours a week; Highworth library – an extra eight hours and Liden library – an extra 14 hours.

As for her intention to create mini-libraries in shops, Coun Foley said: “A village shop would have a library point. Why not?

“I want to start working with the local community and councillors to see whether we can locate any facilities that can take our books. It’s whichever communities don’t have a library service.

“It’s in areas we don’t have a library service at the moment, rural areas, Chiseldon, Blunsdon.

We just want library books to be more accessible.”

“The proposals are due to come before the next meeting of the council’s Conservative Cabinet on April 20.

The exact timetables for opening hours are not yet known.

Coun Foley said any businesses interested in hosting a library section should email her on