LIBRARY assistant posts in York have been axed to save £190,000 – but unions say the move risks “hollowing out” the city’s library service.

City of York Council has shed the equivalent of 10.9 full-time branch library positions – covering reading and information advisors and Saturday assistants – although it has said no compulsory redundancies will be necessary.

The authority must reduce its libraries and archive service budget by £250,000 this year, promising library services and opening times will not be affected.

However, the loss of the roles has been criticised by Unison, which fears fewer staff will harm residents’ access to information.

The job cuts will be met through voluntary redundancies and not filling vacant posts.

Libraries affected will be those in Bishopthorpe, Copmanthorpe, Dringhouses, Dunnington, New Earswick, Poppleton, Strensall, Huntington and York’s mobile library.

“We have invested in technology which increases our efficiency, such as self-issue machines which allow staff to be more customer-focused,” said Fiona Williams, head of library services.

“We are driving out all inefficiencies and streamlining our procedures, such as how we book our meeting rooms, which all saves staff time and allows us to meet budget cuts and keep all libraries open for the same number of hours. The new structure is now in operation and we are working with all staff to understand their new roles and ensure a smooth transition for the public.”

She said the remaining £60,000 in savings would be met through other efficiencies and reviewing contracts for work, adding some roles lost were those of staff who only worked three hours a week.

A Unison spokeswoman said: “We recognise the council’s difficult financial position, but any decision which means a comprehensive library service cannot be delivered leads to the hollowing out of that service.

“Residents will get less of a service than they did before.

“Libraries are not about self-issue machines, they are about free access to information as well as books.

“If libraries which previously had two people working there now only have one, it restricts that access.”