EMOTIONS ran high at a meeting in Kingsclere when residents were told there is no chance of saving their library.
The village club, in George Street, was packed with almost 70 residents last Wednesday evening, all keen to make their voices heard.
But there was fury when they learned from Alec Kennedy, head of library operations at Hampshire County Council, that the final decision to close the facility had already been taken by the council.
One member of the public said: “This isn’t a consultation. This is a fait accompli.”
The meeting first heard from Mr Kennedy, that the decision was “all about budget”. The library costs around £20,000 to run each year, and the council expects to save between £16,000 and £18,000 by closing it down.
Mr Kennedy said: “It is really pleasing to see so many of you here tonight, taking an interest in the library. But that is not reflected in the use of the library over the last few years.”
He explained that only 11 per cent of people in Kingsclere ever use the library, and said it was one of the three most under-used libraries in the county.
But those who attended the meeting described the decision to close the service as “utterly disgraceful”.
Mr Kennedy was told that the opening hours of the library – currently 13-and-a-half hours a week – were not suitable for people who work, and others asked why there are cinema screenings at other libraries while theirs is closing.
Those gathered were told that by parish council chairman councillor Alan Denness that there are three options they could pursue – to object, “wave placards and make noise”, to open a community library run by volunteers, or to look into getting a mobile library which would pay regular visits to Kingsclere.
While a majority expressed an interest in opening a community library, a vocal minority argued the parish council should look into taking legal action over the impending closure.
The meeting was told that around 24 volunteers would be needed to make the option of running a community library a viable one and, of those present, around 18 said they would be prepared to volunteer.
The future of Kingsclere library is to be discussed at the next parish council meeting on March 31.