Wirral Council is to consider spending £1m on an automated self-service system that will change the way people collect and return their library books.

Radio Frequency Identification would use new technology to replace the traditional way borrowed books are stamped with a return date.

The system requires a tag in each book which has a computer chip and antenna identifying each individual title.

When the library-user places the book on a receiver pad and inserts their library card into the card- reader, the system is updated and a receipt produced.

There is also a facility available which allows payment of fines or other charges.

A meeting of Wirral's cabinet next week will be asked to approve the system in all libraries where a business case for efficiency can be made.

A report to councillors says the total cost of installation, which could be up to £1m, would be funded from town hall reserves.

The document says the installation forms one element of a strategy of using new technology to enable the merger of libraries and One Stop Shops, creating savings of £1.7m "with no reduction of facilities or services."

Automation will free up library staff from a routine and time-consuming task. Staff can then "engage fully with customers requiring a more in-depth response which is a major step forward for the service."

The authority has already tendered for this system and Intellident has been awarded the contract over a four-year period.

Installation will go ahead on a site-by-site basis where there would be a reasonable return on investment in a timescale of up to four years.

Initially the system is being installed into New Ferry Library based at Grove Street Junior School.

The radio equipment on this site has been funded from the Merseyside Improvement and Efficiency Partnership.