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Kingsclere library future in doubt

Facility may have to opt for independence

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886637

Kingsclere library future in doubt

The future of Kingsclere Community Library has been thrown into doubt – with Hampshire County Council considering whether to continue supporting the facility.

The council closed the library in 2015, but it was later reopened by volunteers.

It is currently supported by the council, meaning it is visited weekly by a member of Hampshire Libraries staff, receives a frequent supply of books, a self-service terminal, a public computer, broadband connection and free public WiFi.

However, in plans to save £1.76m from the library budget, the council is proposing to pull that support.

That would mean the library could become independent and operate outside Hampshire’s library system, requiring it to be entirely managed by the local community – or face closure.

Kingsclere Library committee member Sarah Davis and volunteers Eileen Selsey and Humphrey Spaight expressed their concern about how the library would manage without the support of the county council, particularly the frequent supply of books.

Mrs Selsey said: “You can work out a system for issuing books, but we’d have a static collection of books and people won’t be interested.

“People will look around and nothing will have changed, and they’ll stop using it.

“The staff bring in new books and we can order in books and we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Mrs Davis said: “The library would be sorely missed if we don’t have it.

“People in the outlying villages use it, as well as Kingsclere residents.

“The volunteers would miss it, the customers would miss it and the village would miss it.

“A lot of the customers would find getting to Tadley a problem.”

Mr Spaight added: “The system works well now, and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Kingsclere Community Library is one of four libraries – classified as tier four libraries – potentially suffering the fate under the proposals, which would save the council £49,000.

The proposals are part of drastic plans by the local authority to balance its books, with 10 of the 48 libraries across the county threatened with closure.

The remaining 38 could have their opening hours reduced by 15 per cent, including Tadley Library.

Although there is still a possibility for all 48 Hampshire libraries to remain open, closures and reductions in opening hours look inevitable as the council considers ways to save the money.

The council has opened a consultation period on the proposed options and is inviting suggestions on other ways the money could be saved.

The consultation will close on March 18, with the authority stressing that no decision will be made until all consultation responses have been fully analysed.

A final decision on the proposals is expected to be made in summer 2020, followed by a further consultation on opening hours.

If approved, changes would be implemented in autumn 2020.

To view the information pack on the proposed plans and details of the consultation, visit https://documents. hants.gov.uk/consultation/libraries-info-booklet.pdf

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