Libraries in Buckinghamshire could be given a new lease of life if they are run by charity trusts, according to an expert.

Buckinghamshire County Council says "severe pressure" on budgets means they are looking at alternative methods of running the service – including handing over responsibility to charity trusts – in order to save £1 million.

The other options BCC outlined were to outsource the contract to an external organisation or to continue ‘as is’ – libraries funded by the taxpayer through the County Hall’s budget – an option which Cabinet Member Martin Phillips said was the “safest” option but library experts say isn’t possible.

Brian Furner, chairman of The Friends of High Wycombe Library, said: “Making the libraries into charity trusts is probably the most favourable option of the three.

“I think privatising the libraries would not wash with the public but it can’t carry on as it is – we are going downhill and libraries are facing further cuts.

“When High Wycombe library opened they had 70 staff – now they have 40 and only ten of those are permanent.

“At the moment I don’t think many staff are getting job satisfaction. I think putting more responsibility in their hands would improve moral.

“It would also give more flexibility for the libraries to respond to the public’s changing needs if they were more independent.”

Library Service Manager David Jones said this week the department, which has already found £2m savings in the past six years, needs to look more radically at the way things are done to save more money.

Opening hours at council-run libraries have already been cut in previous cost-saving measures.

Mr Furner added: “You have got to move forwards. I think there is something to be said for providing a much broader service.

“At one time people would go to the library to borrow a book but that is not the case anymore.

“To be successful they must keep reinventing themselves and keep up with technology. If they don’t they will fall by the waste side because people will go elsewhere.

“The libraries must keep control of costs and increase revenue in order to survive.

“No one wants to see libraries close completely. For many people it is the only opportunity to get a book to read.”

Bucks County Council has a legal obligation to provide library services to the county.