THE contract which sees the running of Croydon's libraries handed over to a private company for the next eight years has been signed.
The new arrangements with John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), which start on October 1, are the result of a rethink of the borough's library set up following pressures on the council's budget. The original plan had been to save money by closing six branch libraries but following a massive public backlash, the council decided to opt for the privatisation solution instead.
The contract means all libraries will remain open, with the service undergoing a modernisation programme, involving the introduction of new technology to benefit staff and customers.
This includes self-service when borrowing or returning books and other items and introducing wi-fi in branches.
The council says it is also saving money on the overall budget, although the financial details of the contract are not revealed.
Councillor Tim Pollard, the council's cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: "Signing this contract means Croydon's libraries are now safe for the foreseeable future.
"At a time when all council services are coming under financial scrutiny, it's great to have negotiated an arrangement that not only keeps all our branches open, but will also see modernisation through the investment that is now planned."