Sun, 19 Jul 2020
THE future of Kingsclere Community Library is to be decided this month.
Hampshire County Council bosses are expected to make a decision over the future of Hampshire’s 48 libraries in a meeting on July 28, with Kingsclere’s volunteer-run facility potentially losing its support.
This would mean losing its supply of books, self-service terminal, public computer, broadband connection and free public wifi, as well as its weekly visit by a member of Hampshire Libraries staff.
The library would have to become independent and operate outside Hampshire’s library system, requiring it to be entirely managed and funded by the local community – or face closure.
The move would be part of a county-wide effort to save the authority £1.76m, although the cutting of support for the council’s four community-run libraries would only save £49,000.
Elsewhere in Hampshire, up to 10 libraries could close, while the remainder could see a 15-per-cent reduction in their opening hours.
Executive member for recreation and heritage at the council Seán Woodward said the authority has now considered the feedback received during a public consultation and the recommendations will be published seven days before the meeting.
The increase in people joining the digital library service over the past months is also set to be taken into account, Mr Woodward said.
But he stressed that this will not change the proposals.
Mr Woodward said: “I am very grateful for the support that residents have shown during the lockdown period.
“We’ve seen an enormous increase in the number of people using our digital library services.
“Our staff have also been delivering online workshops and activities and staying in touch with our most vulnerable customers.
“These new and enhanced schemes offer new opportunities for people to access a wide range of library services, demonstrating a shift in the way people are using library resources.
“We expect this trend to continue and undoubtedly inform the proposals I will be considering around the future of the library service.”