HEREFORD Library Users Group has said working with the council to explore options for future service delivery of a library in the city was a challenge it ‘could not refuse’.

Herefordshire Council’s cabinet agreed last week that the Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG) – working with other relevant stakeholders – would be invited to confirm by the end of February 2016, whether it wanted to work with the council to look at future options for a library in Hereford.

It would provide time, the cabinet was told, for discussions to take place to establish the 'community appetite' to pursue an alternative model of delivery – whether at the Broad Street site or an alternative.

John Hitchin, from the HLUG, said the group was ‘slightly overwhelmed’ but positive about the future.

“We are not used to leaping into fairly high-powered action but this is a challenge we can’t possible refuse,” he said.

“We are currently working on quite a detailed document. We feel extraordinarily positive about it but it’s a sizeable challenge.”

A temporary library is currently in place at Hereford's Town Hall but Mr Hitchin added that a more suitable location would be necessary as only a portion of stock was held there.

Cabinet also agreed to undertake works at the earliest opportunity to remove asbestos – which was discovered at the Broad Street building in September – at a cost of £86,000.

A consultant's report – reviewed by Public Health England's (PHE) Centre for Radiation Chemical and Environmental Hazards – found there was a 'negligible or very low' risk of potential exposure to asbestos fibres to members of the public visiting the building.

"Any potential exposures would possibly not be very much different to everyday background exposure to asbestos fibres in the general environment which we all experience," PHE said, adding that visits to the library were generally infrequent and relatively short.

"Health risk to the public visiting the library to be ‘negligible’ based on this evidence provided in the report."

Meanwhile, John Perkins, from the Save Our Libraries campaign, said although he welcomed news of the council's consultation with HLUG, he would be more enthusiastic if the cabinet understood the word 'consultation.'

"Using a holiday period when people are distracted is a sure way to produce a low response," he said.

"The city has now been without a library and museum service in Broad Street for three months and in this regard they are failing to meet their legal requirement of providing a 'comprehensive' library service as the temporary facilities are not fit for purpose."