SIXTY part-time jobs are at risk after a council agreed to withdraw £500,000 from 14 small libraries yesterday.

Much of the reduced spend is likely to come from job cuts – meaning up to 60 part-time staff face redundancy or a move to a different post in one of the county's main libraries.

Bosses stressed that compulsory redundancies would be a 'very last resort', saying many staff could be offered new positions.

Paula Buck, head of learning and culture at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “We'll be starting a full staff consultation. They've been very very patient through the process, it's been a very unsettling time.”

Community groups and volunteers have been asked to come forward to help run the 14 libraries, with county bosses looking to phase the process over two years.

More than 1,000 people have shown an interest in volunteering across the county. The council said it will 'put all its effort' into avoiding closures and each library would be given different levels of support depending on community involvement, size and usage.

Bosses envisage that some of the bigger libraries of the 14 could retain some paid roles.

The 'bigger and busier' library in Gerrards Cross looks set to be one of the first to make the switch to a community model in the autumn, with heavy involvement from the parish council.

Villagers in Chalfont St Peter have been 'less positive' about the plans, but bosses said they were still confident a 'partnership model' could be achieved.

There are 'differing views' in Great Missenden, but the council said there is potential for another organisation to share the library building.

Discussions are ongoing in Flackwell Heath, though there is some uncertainty about whether the library can retain its current base at Carrington Junior School. Part of the space may be used for school meals in future but county bosses said the library could still share the building.

Castlefield Library, which is less well-used than the others, looks likely to be given the most county support. Bosses are in talks about forging a partnership with the community centre.