USING volunteers to staff libraries would be an "insult" to professional librarians and would put the service at risk of becoming a "pile of books on a table", campaigners claim.

A group campaigning to protect Bracknell's community services from budget cuts has responded angrily to news the council are considering replacing paid librarians with volunteers rather than close the borough's nine libraries completely.

Around 30 per cent of those who responded to Bracknell Forest Council's consultation on the future of the library service said they would be willing to volunteer, but group DOCS (Defend our Community Services) say this would mean losing the abilities and stability of a professional work force.

In a statement, Val and Terry Pearce said: "Using volunteers instead of professional librarians will be an insult not only to them but also to the thousands of people who require their services. Volunteers with all their good intentions are no substitute for a professionally run library service. We do not wish to lose the abilities and the stability of a knowledgeable work force.

"There is a danger that libraries will become a pile of books on a table in a community centre or some other community building."

They added they will continue to fight against any cuts to the library services which are, they say, as important as churches and pubs in the community.

The proposals on the future of libraries followed a first round of consultation with residents and a second round of consultation was launched this week which will be close on Friday, December 16.

Last week, Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, corporate services and public protection, said: “The public’s response to the consultation was very enlightening and was very influential in determining how the council chose to balance the need to make substantial economies in its libraries whilst trying to provide services that residents want.

“Rather than close libraries, we are embarking on a journey which keeps them open but with a dependence on volunteers to help us do so."

Technology could help allow better access to facilities without the need for staff to be present at all times, he added.

Four public meetings are due to take place on the future of libraries, for dates and times visit,

A dedicated email address has been set up for any comments, questions or suggestions about the library service,