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Britain's public libraries will become the focus of bitter political battles and legal action this month as users fight to prevent mass closures. More than 400 libraries from the Isle of Wight to South Wales and Yorkshire face the axe as councils make difficult choices about the future of local services to meet government demands for £6.5bn of savings over two years. The number could double as half of all councils are yet to announce their money-saving plans.
Libraries face cuts of 20 to 30 per cent, which may mean that as many as one in five libraries and one in four full-time librarian jobs are at risk. This comes despite the fact more than 300 million books were borrowed last year. Tens of thousands of people use the internet in libraries every day.
London's Mayor last week announced plans to establish a trust of volunteers to run the capital's libraries, a third of which are under threat.