When Conservative county councillors were presented with a report last year setting out draft plans to withdraw funding from 44 libraries, they baulked at the idea.
They could predict what was in the offing: damaging headlines about the threat of closures to much-cherished village libraries, many of them in the party's heartlands, no matter what spin was put on it to present the shake-up as innovative and 'transfomational'.
It was an electoral liability they were not prepared to countenance, especially as the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the libraries in question would have come close to the next election. Library chiefs and the cabinet member responsible were sent way with a flea in their ear and told to have a re-think.
Now the report - accompanied by a presentation of frankly bewilderingly complex graphs - that caused a backbench revolt has been leaked.
KCC was anxious to keep it under wraps and had argued that the public interest in allowing politicians to debate policy options in private was greater than the public interest in disclosing it.
So what are we to make of the report? We already knew that the authority was being pressed into considering changes because of the tricky budget situation - and it bears out these suspicions by talking about the need to 'secure affordable local solutions' and 'deliver further revenue savings'.
A key element of KCC's plans was to offload libraries to third parties - voluntary groups, community groups, parish councils and those vague organisations known as 'social entrepeneurs'.
These would be paid an annual grant to maintain the library on behalf of the council although perhaps unsurprisngly, the report is silent on what may have happened had no-one come forward to take on the job. (In all likelihood, they would have shut).
The savings to KCC would have come from negotiations with these third parties to reduce costs on books, premises and IT. In other words, KCC's expectation was that organisations who took over the libraries would have had to have done the job for less.
So, are we to presume that this approach to Kent's libraries has been abandoned altogether? Actually no. When KCC came back with a new report about its approach to 'modernising' libraries last year, which was presented to councillors in public, virtually all these elements were retained: the idea of third parties taking over remains central, savings will have to be delivered, locality boards will be key in 'shaping the future'.
The only thing missing from the report was a list identifying which libraries Kent had in mind. KCC clearly has a conundrum. It has significantly more libraries than many other authorities and although £4m will be chopped from the budget between now and 2014, it is still not enough. Other ways of running the service are clearly being considered out of necessity.
One solution that could be under consideration involves the council's 'Gateway' centres, many of which contain libraries.
KCC has just confirmed it is reviewing these and among the options being considered is whether to put them out to tender and allow the private sector to run them. At the smaller end of the scale, watch out for reduced opening hours.
Either way, anyone who thinks that Kent will be able to preserve its network of libraries as they are now is probably being unrealistic.
You can read the confidential report here:
kcclibraries (540.77 kb)
kentlibrarylist.doc (24.50 kb)