Oxfordshire county council has dismissed suggestions it may have to close some rural libraries as it seeks more than £1m in cuts from its cultural services budget.

Union chiefs voiced concerns that some of Oxfordshire’s 44 libraries may close as the council looks to make £1.36m in savings over the next three years.

County Hall’s review of its cultural services has identified money could be saved by letting local communities run their own libraries instead of the council and suggested others could be moved and housed within schools or other community facilities.

The review by the head of community services, Richard Munro, also recommended money be invested in ‘radio frequency tags’ for books – which would allow library users to check out their own books – and other unstaffed self-service facilities.

But the branch secretary of Unison in Oxfordshire Mark Fysh said: “It is a danger that the council will shut down libraries. The problem for cultural services is that it seems like a soft target.

“Because it is not a life-and-death service, the council think they can cut the service and people won’t notice. Library closures are a possibility and it would be rural libraries that would close.

“To close libraries in this county is political suicide and I’ve told the leader of the council that. If you bring in things like book tagging it’s bound to lead to job losses.”

County council leader Keith Mitchell has denied that any libraries will be closed or that any compulsory redundancies will be made in Oxfordshire’s libraries, museums or music services as part of the cuts.

The denial follows three redundancies made at council-run Cogges Farm Museum in Witney two weeks ago.

Shadow cabinet member for children Jean Fooks said: “We are worried about this. The music service is really important and the library is an absolutely essential service.

“It would be very short-sighted to restructure cultural activities.”

As part of its cost-cutting measures, the council has reduced staff in some mobile libraries from two people to one and hopes to save £245,000 at the central library when the Westgate Centre is closed for refurbishment.

Mr Mitchell said: “There are no plans to lose any libraries and it is simply untrue to suggest that this is the case.”

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “Oxfordshire County Council is committed to reviewing services to see if efficiencies can be found. Efficiencies do not automatically lead to cuts. Even if the council was not committed to such reviews, the Audit Commission and the Government would require it to conduct them.”