LIBRARY services in Oxfordshire risk being “suffocated” if new cuts go ahead, campaigners have warned.

Proposals to save £1m by closing all five mobile libraries in the county, cutting the fund for books and reducing library staff were among £52.5m of possible savings suggested by Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday.

But Friends of Grove Library group member Eoin Garland warned the cuts would have a devastating effect and said he was concerned libraries would end up without staff.

The group campaigned against proposals to withdraw permanent staff from Grove Library in 2011 and helps provide volunteers to support the library’s one professional librarian.

Mr Garland said: “What is happening to libraries is that they are being fundamentally suffocated.

“If you take away librarians you are just left with a room full of books.

“Libraries affect a lot of people across society. In times of austerity they are a lifeline to people who are unemployed who are looking to extend or develop a CV.

“They provide a lifeline to elderly people in our community and they have been linked with good mental health. When you are elderly or infirm and you are living rurally and your mobile library stops coming out to you, that is it – you are done. Where will our libraries be 10 years from now?”

The county council has said the 43 non-mobile libraries in the county would remain open under the proposals, which will be consulted on until November 30.

Former Royal Navy commander Geoff Feasey, a former member of Friends of North Leigh Library, said he was worried the cuts would leave rural areas worse off.

The 85-year-old said: “I would like to know: are the urban libraries in the county going to take a fair share of the burden of cuts and is the closure of the mobile library service a fair and reasonable proportion of that?

“Mobile libraries are of an immense importance to some people. It is not just the stock of books. For many of us the library gives us the ability to get very rare and learned tomes delivered here.

“Some of us would find it very difficult to get in to Oxford to collect them .

“I could not be more enthusiastic about saying we should find a way to hold on to our rural libraries.”

The county council has proposed customer service advisers could be moved from their current base in County Hall in Oxford to libraries and other county council buildings around the county.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “There are more than 90 savings options to consider across many areas of the council’s services.

“We have options for savings in the library service but none of our 43 libraries would close.

“We want to make them our customer service ‘front door’ in Oxfordshire communities.”

After the public consultation closes on November 30 the proposals will be examined by county council committees and the cabinet.

The final budget plans will then be put to a vote on February 16.