The council is inviting the private sector to take over management of library services.

Wandsworth and Croydon Council are asking outside organisations to pitch new ideas on how to improve libraries and additional services they could offer, such as coffee bars, career advice or online movie streaming.

Each proposal will be benchmarked against the service levels offered by the existing library teams.

The move aims to generate savings through sharing overheads and buying power.

Core library services will remain free to use and the buildings would still be owned by the council, with councillors remaining in overall control of the library networks.

Wandsworth Council’s in-house library team will submit a bid to take over the management of libraries across both borough, which could generate savings through sharing management costs and buying power.

Councillor Jonathan Cook library spokesman for the council said: “The bedrock must be maintained - great books, comfortable surroundings and skilled staff, but innovation must be encouraged if they are to remain useful, attractive places.

“Five years ago our options were limited but now there is a developing and competitive marketplace out there with a lot to offer. If an outsider can do a better job at a lower cost then we won’t be afraid to take the first step."