Future uncertain for Kingsclere library

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr Keith Chapman Cllr Keith Chapman

KINGSCLERE library is under threat as Hampshire County Council looks to cut costs.

The library, in George Street, is one of three in Hampshire which has been earmarked for possible closure – but the community could still come to its rescue.

Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire’s executive member for culture and recreation, said the library is underused.

He said: “The licence for Kingsclere library is running out, and now is the time to re-examine the position of libraries in Hampshire.

“We will talk to the community to see if they are prepared to run the library for us.

“Another option is a mobile library, although they too are underused in many areas.”

Cllr Chapman said that other Hampshire libraries which are now community run have gone on to become very successful, adding: “In some cases, the opening hours have been extended after community groups took over.”

Hampshire Library Service is looking to cut spending by 12 per cent by 2015.

Cllr Chapman said: “We need to save money but this is not just a cost-cutting exercise.

“The way people use library services has changed with the introduction of things like iPads and Kindles, and we need to take this into consideration.”

Alongside the proposals to cease running the three libraries in Kingsclere, Grayshott and Milford-on-Sea, the council is also considering reducing the number of mobile library vehicles and the number of stops they make.

In total, the proposals would save the council £180,000.

A formal consultation on the future of Kingsclere library will begin in February.

Cllr Chapman said: “I am optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement with the local community.

“We will talk to the parish council and people who use the library before making any decisions.”

Kingsclere Parish Council will discuss the future of the library at its meeting on Monday.

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