DEVON County Council has described responses to its recent consultation on the future of Devon's library service as 'extremely positive'.

Never has the Council had such a level of responses to previous library consultations, in terms of numbers and quality of feedback, the Council says.

5,500 returned questionnaires; 2,500 attendees at local library drop-in sessions - 1,000 people at public meetings; as well as emails, letters and petitions that have been sent to the Council.

Results from them all are now being collated, digested, and deliberated over by senior Managers and Councillors, and will inform a report and recommendations that will go before the Council's Cabinet in October.

The 13-week consultation sought to find out people's opinions on proposals to remodel Devon's library service.

In the light of changing library use and decreased funding, the Council and its library service has had to consider different ways of saving money, whilst helping to ensure that its libraries develop in response to community needs.

In its consultation, the Council asked local communities to consider several proposals that could achieve this.

One proposal was to create a network of 22 'Devon Centres', which account for nearly 80 per cent of the Council's total library usage.

The Council has also been talking to users and non users of libraries across Devon about how 28 smaller, but still popular library services, can be sustained in future with more support from those communities as well as from the Council.

"We have never underestimated the strength of feeling and passion that residents feel for their library service," said Councillor Roger Croad, the Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for the library service.

"It's a passion that we understand and share whole-heartedly. If it were anything but, we would have been failing to deliver a service that people felt meets their community's needs.

"We have had a mountain of responses to the consultation, and from the meetings and discussions that I have attended, I am encouraged by the overwhelming level of support that groups and individuals are ready to give their local library.

"A full report will go before our Cabinet committee in October, outlining the consultation results and making recommendations about what the future library service will look like.

"Until then, we're looking with an open mind at the results and continuing our conversations with local groups."