THE majority of residents who took part in a borough-wide library consultation backed plans to use buildings more effectively, which includes relocating Atherton Library to the town hall.

Sixty-one per cent agreed and only 15 per cent disagreed with the building proposals that will also see Leigh Town Hall transformed and the Turnpike Centre developed, says Wigan Council.

Merging customer service officers with library staff and recruiting more volunteers to help deliver services are other proposed changes as the council looks to keep all 15 of the borough's libraries open despite being subjected to cuts of £160 million since 2010.

If the plans to transform library services are approved at this month’s cabinet meeting this will mean that residents will soon be able to get advice about their council tax while checking out a book.

Cllr Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for leisure, said: “During the budget consultation residents made it clear how much they value libraries, which is why we are working hard to protect them.

"Over the past few years libraries have become much more than a room filled with books, they have become a place where people meet and socialise and where children learn to love books.

"They really are the beating heart of the community.

"It is for those reasons that we think it would be better to house more services under the same roof.

"Not only will it make it easier for residents to access a number of services but it could also improve the library offer by extending opening hours.

“We want to protect the future of our libraries and we believe by doing this we can."

More than 2,419 residents took part in the consultation, which ran from November 14 to February 5 and asked residents to have their say on the current library services and suggest how they could be improved to make them more efficient.

Two-thirds of respondents said they want the borough's libraries to stay open.

The results also show that residents think front facing library and customer service staff should work together (64 per cent agreed, 12 per cent disagreed), volunteer engagement should be increased, including opportunities for community delivery, ownership and asset transfer (58 per cent agreed, 19 per cent disagreed) and the home delivery service should be run differently by recruiting volunteers (53 per cent agreed, 19 per cent disagreed).

There were three separate consultations, one for general members of the public, one for the home delivery service and one for staff.

The libraries that attracted the highest number of responses were Wigan Library (629 people), Leigh Library (432) and Atherton Library (248).

To see the full results and the proposals visit