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New chapter at Theale Library re-launch

Children's author Holly Webb asks residents to " cherish your lovely library"

THEALE residents celebrated the relaunch of their village library, which was threatened with closure just 18 months ago.

Young people and parents flocked to Friday’s event clutching copies of books to be signed by special guest, children’s author Holly Webb.

Mrs Webb, who lives in Tilehurst, is the author of , and and cut the ribbon to officially re-open the community facility

She said: “There is no greater honour for a writer than to open a library. As a child I wanted to be a librarian, because I thought all they had to do was read the books.

“Actually, librarians are amazing guides into whole new worlds, especially for children.

“Libraries are full of opportunities to discover new things, new places and new amazing characters. Please cherish your lovely library.”

The new-look library has refreshments available every day, along with a new area for relaxation, which includes newspapers, magazines and games, jigsaws, toys and colouring books.

It also includes a private study space with eight free-to-use computers.

Last year, as part of its plan to save £18.5m, West Berkshire Council announced proposals to close eight of the nine libraries, leaving just Newbury open.

It later amended the proposals, following government advice and public protests, to just closing the libraries at Wash Common and Theale.

Protesters gathered outside the Theale library, in Church Street, following the announcement, saying that children’s education would suffer.

But, following a needs assessment of the library service in West Berkshire, the council instead opted to cut library staff across the district and rely on volunteers and close only Wash Common library.

West Berkshire’s executive member for culture and environment, Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), said: “We were bowled over by the amount of people who came along to enjoy the event and celebrate their library and all it has to offer.

“There’s so much more to libraries than just books.

“They are a valuable space where communities can interact and are often the hub of a community.

“We want as many people as possible to enjoy and benefit from their local library and the people of Theale are clearly enjoying theirs.”

n To volunteer at libraries across West Berkshire, visit www.westberks.gov.uk/volunteer

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