LIBRARIES across the county are to get self-service machines to cut costs and reduce staff.

The £600,000 project will allow customers to check out books themselves.

Oxford’s Central Library and Cowley Library will get the machines, which managers hope will cut queues.

Banbury Library installed the new system last month.

Oxfordshire County Council says that 11 full-time library service posts will not be replaced when staff leave after the machines are operating.

They will be installed in the following order: Witney, Didcot, Cowley, Oxford Central and Abingdon.

Council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The introduction of self-service facilities in libraries enhances visitors’ overall experience, by freeing up library space, cutting queuing time and by increasing the security of stock.

“This method has been introduced in other parts of the country and feedback shows that library users are positive towards self-service.”

The system will cost £600,000 to install and save about £190,000 a year, he said.

Mr Mabberley added: “Fewer staff are required in libraries with self-service facilities, as there’s no need for staff to conduct routine transactions.”

However, Liz Brighouse, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “This shows that all services are facing cuts and that everything is up for grabs.

“Savings need to be delivered and this appears to be a way of delivering libraries without librarians.”

She said: “At least there’s no suggestion at the moment that libraries are going to close.”

Didcot Library, in Broadway, will close on Saturday, December 4, at 4.30pm for installation of the system. It will reopen on Monday, December 13, at 1pm.

It is understood that some of the libraries in the programme, including Oxford’s Central Library and Abingdon, will not be equipped until next year.

The council warned earlier this month that it would have to make £155m savings by 2015 and that all services will be affected.

The bulk of the cuts, about £58m, will be made in the 12 months from April next year.