Senior St Albans politicians fear the district’s libraries will be "simply window-dressing" if proposed cuts to services go ahead.

Hertfordshire County Council is consulting on wide-ranging changes to library services across the county as it looks to make about  £2.5 million of savings over the next three years.

Plans include axing mobile library services and implementing the ‘Inspiring Libraries’ strategy, which is based on each of Hertfordshire’s 46 libraries being placed in three distinct categories based on service demand.

In the smallest of these, the county council would offer self-service access to library service facilities through volunteer support.

Sandy Walkington, Liberal Democrat county councillor, said: "Here in St Albans the Maltings Library is the busiest in the county. It's always humming whenever I go in.

"So it's ominous when the last four words of the county's library strategy objectives read 'cost the taxpayer less'.

"Libraries must constantly develop their services and appeal but residents will be terribly let down if the brave vision of new services and facilities is simply window dressing with the real agenda being about cuts."

The libraries in St Albans and Harpenden, which had 458,841 visitors last year, would be classified in tier one under the proposals, and would be open longest and offer the broadest range of stock and services.

Marshalswick library would be in tier two, and would provide core library services and additional services based on local demand. During non-core opening hours, the libraries in this tier would be supervised by volunteers.

But London Colney, Redbourn and Wheathampstead would be classified as tier three libraries, which would become self service with staff assistance via a virtual librarian service.

Labour Councillor Jacob Quagliozzi said: "I'm concerned about the proposals for London Colney Library and encourage all residents to take part in the consultation.

"We need to send a clear message to the county council that our library is much valued by all groups in our community from children who are supported in their introduction to the wonderful world of reading by a great range of books, to people coming into use the computers, borrow books or just to read the newspaper.

"Libraries have a value, not just a cost."

Under proposals, the council want to include wifi printing, develop a virtual librarian service, introduce swipe card access and offer public access to tablets.

The council said their ambition is to increase income generation by £200,000-£300,000 per annum over the next three years, which represents an increase of around 25%.

Frances Button, cabinet member for libraries, said: "‘Inspiring Libraries’ is a fantastic opportunity to create a modern and sustainable library service at the heart of local communities.

"We want to continue the drive forward in digital technology and to develop further our partnerships with local residents, organisations and communities."

Hertfordshire County Council recently received £700,000 from the government to combine up to four part-time village fire stations with libraries.

The council said they would use the current consultation, which suggests Redbourn needs relocating or redeveloping, to help determine which libraries would be located.

More than 2,300 people have completed the consultation and there are a further 26 drop-in sessions being held at libraries before the consultation ends. To take part in the consultation visit: by December 7.

Feedback from the consultation will be used to create a final set of proposals to take to a cabinet meeting on February 10 where a final decision is expected to be made.