Library changes are not finished yet

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr Keith Chapman Cllr Keith Chapman

LIBRARY bosses say “all options are open” on the future of the service in Hampshire.

The statement came as a consultation closes on plans to shed jobs, mobile libraries and man some libraries with volunteers. The results are expected to be published in September.

But Hampshire recreation and heritage chief Councillor Keith Chapman could not rule out future branch closures on top of the announced cuts.

Cllr Chapman was speaking after a task group was formed to shake up library services in the face of expected Government cuts and changing times.

He said: “Our options are completely open. We are looking at other things and other models.

“If we were starting a library service from square one we would not put libraries where they are now.

“Over the years, things have never changed and we have a different way of accessing reading material.

More and more people are choosing to download books online and they have better access to reading material than ever before because of the Internet.”

The task group will deliver its proposals in the new year.

Under this year’s budget, £900,000 worth of cuts will be made to the library service which unions fear will leave the service “unsustainable”. A total of 27 full-time posts, which include HQ staff, library managers and outreach teams, face the axe.

Mobile stops are to be slashed and the library outreach team, which promotes the library service to playgroups, schools and community groups, is also to be disbanded. It is hoped that volunteers can step in and deliver books to people’s homes.

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