Hampshire library consultation ends

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A CONSULTATION on the library service in Hampshire has closed with the results due to be published in September.

Plans to shed jobs, axe mobile libraries and man some libraries with volunteers are threatened under £900,000 worth of cuts that will be made to the library service, which unions fear will leave the service “unsustainable”.

A total of 27 full-time posts, which include headquarters staff, library managers and outreach teams, face the axe.

Tory recreation and heritage chief Keith Chapman spoke after a task group was formed to shake up library services in the face of expected Government cut backs 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 today we would not put libraries where they are now.

“Over the years the library service put in place things that have never changed, and now 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.

Mobile stops are to be slashed by nearly a third. Those under threat include 26 in the New Forest.

The library outreach team, which promotes the use of the public 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.

Plans also include increasing library assistant hours, investing in ebooks and eAudio titles, as well as self-service technology and introducing more convenient opening hours.

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